Summer 2019 Links

I had the privilege of meeting Richard Siken when I was quite young–an undergraduate at the University of Arizona–and he gave me lots of good advice on the poetry world (and life), conversations I still cherish. Please help him out.

Stroke Recovery Fund for Poet Richard Siken.


Nuclear and Environmental

Alenka Zupančič, “The Apocalypse Is (Still) Disappointing.”

James Livingston, “Time, Dread, Apocalypse Now.

Ted Nordhaus, “The Empty Radicalism of the Climate Apocalypse.”

Jessica Hurley and Dan Sinykin, eds., Apocalypse, special issue of ASAP/Journal.

Frame, Apocalypse.

Brad Plumer, “Humans Are Speeding Extinction and Altering the Natural World at an ‘Unprecedented’ Pace.”

Damian Carrington, “Why The Guardian Is Changing the Language It Uses about the Environment.”

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Review of David Foster Wallace and “The Long Thing”

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.

Review of David Foster Wallace and “The Long Thing” at C21: Journal of 21st-Century Writings

David Foster Wallace and the Long ThingProduct Details

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”

David Foster Wallace and the Long Thing

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.”

July Links

(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.”

Forthcoming book: Fabienne Colignon’s Rocket States: Atomic Weaponry and the Cultural Imagination.



Lindsay Abrams, “The Ocean Is Covered in a Lot Less Plastic Than We Thought–and That’s a Bad Thing.”

James West, “What You Need to Know About the Coming Jellyfish Apocalypse.”

Brad Plumer, “Oklahoma’s Earthquake Epidemic Linked to Wastewater Disposal.”

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End of the Year Links

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.”

Temporary nuclear pact.

UN nuclear inspectors in Iran.

“Iran, from Enemy to Ally.”

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.

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“Then Out of the Rubble”: The Apocalypse in David Foster Wallace’s Early Fiction

I just received in the mail today the first volume of the two-part special issue Studies of the Novel is devoting to the novels of David Foster Wallace, edited by Marshall Boswell, in which my essay, “‘Then Out of the Rubble’: The Apocalypse in David Foster Wallace’s Early Fiction,” appears. Check it out (esp. if you have Project Muse access). There are some excellent other essays from Allard den Dulk, David Letzler, Adam Kelly, and Philip Sayers as well.

A (Little) Bit of DFW Archival Nonsense

(Note: for many the following may not come as news whatsoever, as the important events occurred in 2004 and 2009 respectively.  For the rest, enjoy.)

Just read Jay Murray Siskind’s review of Boswell’s Understanding DFW and DFW’s Oblivion, “An Undeniably Controversial and Perhaps Even Repulsive Talent,” from a 2004 issue of Modernism/modernity.  And the thing is, it took me all of, oh, four seconds to realize that this review was “written” by the same Jay Murray Siskind who so famously described the Most Photographed Barn in America in Don DeLillo’s White Noise.  What is so incredible about this very small “hoax,” is that it took almost 5 years–and many serious citations of the review by graduate students, mind you–for anyone to notice it, namely Mark Sample over at Sample Reality.  (Also read about it here and here and here.)  Even more surprising w/r/t this “hoax” is the clear fact that Hal Incandenza is referenced as an author in the first footnote!  For anyone working on DFW to not notice this, nor, perhaps even more criminally, to not read footnotes in an article on DFW (!), well. . . .

Sample and others are clear to point out that this “Littlest Literary Hoax” suggests some fairly dark things about academic publishing and scholarship–i.e. did anyone actually read the article in the first place (or does anyone even read literary scholarship much at all, for that matter); that more people have responded in the electronic realm (i.e. no published self-account in Modernism/modernity); and that a whole army of grads and undergrads referenced the article w/o any awareness whatsoever of White Noise (seriously, isn’t White Noise, like, as close to required pomo reading as it gets [w/ the exception, say, of Beloved]?  Like Cont. Am. Lit.’s version of Relativity for Physicists?).  But, then again, I wonder how many people, like myself, quickly caught the hoax, laughed a bit to themselves, found it clever, and immediately suggestive of a whole host of interesting pomo/popomo(/not to mention mo) debates that DFW is so clearly involved in, and then simply moved on, for it was essentially nothing more than a (fairly good and funny) book review–these various (fictional) readers not feeling the need, unlike my current self, to comment much further on it in any other forum.

Either way, though, the archival implications of this are fairly interesting, if for no other reason than DFW’s clear affinity for DeLillo; my own sense is that the very explosive archival nature of DFW’s work almost calls forth or demands that Hal Incandenza enter into the real world of ideas through a footnote to some obscure and (clearly) overlooked academic article.  Hyperachivization indeed.  (Also, Incandenza’s title is telling: How I Conquered Analysis: Ten Ways to Dupe Your Therapist [Elisingborg: Yorick Press, 1998], or perhaps a better title would be: Ten Ways to Dupe Literary Scholars Who Clearly Haven’t Read Enough (of What They’re Supposed to be Getting Paid to Read) and Didn’t Even Get the Hamlet! References in the Footnote.)

Anyway, just thought I’d (re-)share.   And now, (back) to the archive, and step on it!