I just found a review by Mathias Nilges, published earlier this year, of David Foster Wallace and “The Long Thing”: New Essays on the Novels (Bloomsbury, 2014), edited by Marshall Boswell. Nilges discusses at some length my contribution to the volume, “‘Then Out of the Rubble’: David Foster Wallace’s Early Fiction.” The review was published in the American Literary History Online Review, series ix, January 2017.
In the fourth issue of the new journal, C21: Journal of 21st-Century Writings, Mark West has written a nicely positive review of David Foster Wallace and “The Long Thing”: New Essays on the Novels (2014), edited by Marshall Boswell, in which I have an essay, “‘Then Out of the Rubble’: David Foster Wallace’s Early Fiction.” West also reviews Gesturing Towards Reality: David Foster Wallace and Philosophy (2014), edited by Robert K. Bolger and Scott Korb (somewhat less positively).
David Foster Wallace and “The Long Thing”: New Essays on the Novels, edited by Marshall Boswell, to which I have contributed an essay, “‘Then Out of the Rubble’: David Foster Wallace’s Early Fiction,” is set to appear 31 July 2014. This volume collects revised versions of essays from two special issues of Studies in the Novel from 2012 (44.3 and 44.4). I am delighted to be included in this excellent collection. See the blurbs at Bloomsbury’s site and read the first review from Publisher’s Weekly. It is reasonably priced right now, and Amazon has it listed in stock (before its release date . . .). Here is a description of the book:
Of the twelve books David Foster Wallace published both during his lifetime and posthumously, only three were novels. Nevertheless, Wallace always thought of himself primarily as a novelist. From his college years at Amherst, when he wrote his first novel as part of a creative honors thesis, to his final days, Wallace was buried in a novel project, which he often referred to as “the Long Thing.” Meanwhile, the short stories and journalistic assignments he worked on during those years he characterized as “playing hooky from a certain Larger Thing.” Wallace was also a specific kind of novelist, devoted to producing a specific kind of novel, namely the omnivorous, culture-consuming “encyclopedic” novel, as described in 1976 by Edward Mendelson in a ground-breaking essay on Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow.
David Foster Wallace and “The Long Thing” is a state-of-the art guide through Wallace’s three major works, including the generation-defining Infinite Jest. These essays provide fresh new readings of each of Wallace’s novels as well as thematic essays that trace out patterns and connections across the three works. Most importantly, the collection includes six chapters on Wallace’s unfinished novel, The Pale King, which will prove to be foundational for future scholars of this important text.
Table of Contents:
Marshall Boswell, “Preface.”
Part I: Wallace as Novelist
Adam Kelly, “David Foster Wallace and the Novel of Ideas.”
Toon Staes, “Wallace and Empathy: A Narrative Approach.”
Allard den Dulk, “Boredom, Irony, and Anxiety: Wallace and the Kierkegaardian View of the Self.”
Andrew Warren, “Modeling Community and Narrative in Infinite Jest and The Pale King.”
Part II: The Novels
Bradley J. Fest, “‘Then Out of the Rubble’: David Foster Wallace’s Early Fiction.”
Philip Sayers, “Representing the Entertainment in Infinite Jest.”
David Letzler, “Encyclopedic Novels and the Cruft of Fiction: Infinite Jest‘s Endnotes.”
Stephen J. Burn, “‘A Paradigm for the Life of Consciousness’: The Pale King.”
Conley Wouters, “‘What Am I, a Machine?’: Humans and Information in The Pale King.”
Ralph Clare, “The Politics of Boredom and the Boredom of Politics in The Pale King.”
Marshall Boswell, “Trickle-Down Citizenship: Taxes and Civic Responsibility in The Pale King.”
(It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted links, so some of this is already pretty dated, but heck . . it’s also been a jam-packed couple of weeks in the news.)
Nina Strochlic, “Britain’s Nuke-Proof Underground City.”
David Foster Wallace and “The Long Thing”: New Essays on the Novels, an exciting collection on Wallace’s work edited by Marshall Boswell (which I have contributed an essay to), just had its first review by Publisher’s Weekly. I’ll have a more detailed post about the book when it comes out later next month.
Michael Robbins has a great piece in this months Harper’s, “Destroy Your Safe and Happy Lives: A Poet’s Guide to Metal,” which, in the space of six pages, is able to reference John Milton, Rainer Maria Rilke, Black Sabbath, and Converge. I did not know that could be done. (Even R., who tends to abhor whenever anything loud and screamy even gets near our home’s turntable, enjoyed this piece.) Highlights of the short essay include: quoting a number of lines from William Blake’s “Proverbs of Hell” and commenting, “sounds pretty metal to me”; describing a Converge show where they “took over that space like a bellowing wooly rhino crashing into a Pleistocene clearing. . . . It’s war music” (a pretty accurate description); and some reflections on metal and capital: “Sometimes I wonder what metal would sound like after capitalism, or whether we would even need metal then. I wonder the same about poetry.”
More DFW stuff. Peter Finocchiaro, “What David Foster Wallace Got Wrong About Irony: Our Culture Doesn’t Have Nearly Enough of It,” which, strangely enough, is actually an interview with Jonathan Lear about irony (rather than an article specifically about DFW’s sense of irony). In my revised version of an essay that will appear in David Foster Wallace and “The Long Thing” (forthcoming July 2014), I make some similar points about the need for irony at the present time. That said, Lear seems to have a better handle on Wallace’s specific take on irony from the television essay than Finocchiaro, emphasizing that DFW was both a gifted ironist himself and that, in “E Unibus Pluram,” he is critiquing institutionalized irony, which I think all us post-ironists or new sincerity people would do well to heed, along with Lear’s acknowledgment that irony can actually be a from of earnestness: “There’s a very famous quote from Kierkegaard — or, I don’t know how famous it is, but it’s one of my favorites — where he said, it’s ‘only assistant professors’ who think irony can’t be a form of earnestness. Basically his claim is that irony when properly understood is a very high form of sincerity and earnestness, not its opposite. As he put it, it’s a real misunderstanding of what irony is to think it’s the opposite of earnestness toward commitment.” I feel the earnestness or “sincerity” of irony as it plays out in DFW’s work and thinking has been something that has been overlooked to the detriment of both our understanding of DFW and irony more generally.
Alex C. Madrigal and Adrienne LaFrance, “Net Neutrality: A Guide to (and History of) a Contested Idea.”
Dexter Filkins writes a letter from Iraq in The New Yorker, “What We Left Behind.”
And from the University of Pittsburgh’s great graduate student film blog, Kevin Flanagan on “Introduction to Applied Airport Studies.”
As I have been lax in posting things, yesterday I posted a bunch of links on recent stories regarding the NSA. Today I’m posting links of more general interest. I’ve tried to organize them by category.
The biggest story I have not had time to address were the diplomatic talks regarding Iran’s nuclear program. So here are some links to that.
On 5 November 2013 Reuters reported that Iran, Israel, and Middle East countries “took part in a meeting two weeks ago about prospects for an international conference on banning nuclear weapons in the Middle East.”
Right on the verge of a nuclear agreement, perhaps the biggest event in nuclear nonproliferation in my lifetime, Bob Mendez fights Obama on imposing new sanctions on Iran, as do fifteen other democrats. More here.
Though from today: progress in nuclear talks.