The Howling Fantods your source for all things David Foster Wallace reports that Wallace's final novel, The Pale King, may be delayed until autumn 2010. Meanwhile, you can console yourself by pre-ordering the forthcoming DFW bio, Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A (Road) Trip into the Life, Work, and Mind of David Foster Wallace, by David Lipsky.
David Foster Wallace died a year and seven weeks ago today. And now he's really starting to hit his stride. Here are a few other developments:
David Foster Wallace the Movie
The film version of Wallace's second story collection, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, is out in the U.S. but not, alas, in the UK. The film has gotten mixed reviews. Chuck Wilson in the Village Voice writes:
"Everything I write ends up being about loneliness," said the late writer David Foster Wallace, trying to get at the core of his Brief Interviews With Hideous Men. In a dizzying whirl of language, Wallace's fictional men explain how they feel about the women they've loved or, more often than not, have failed to love.
It's easy to see why actors would be drawn to Wallace's Hideous Men monologues: They're funny, profane, often scarily intense, and, at all times, deeply emotional. Yet, Wallace was not writing a play. He was writing fiction. Wallace used language often ornately academic as a kind of protective padding for his interviewees, and the reader, at his own pace, must dig deep to find the essential truths.
The stilted storytelling that results [in the film] often rings false, and in the end, the monologues delivered by some very good actors (Timothy Hutton, Bobby Cannavale, Josh Charles), who come across as first-year theater students acting out scenes from their favorite novels don't add up to much. If Krasinski had an overarching theme in mind be it the loneliness that Wallace spoke of, or something else we're not getting it.
Here's the trailer if you want to watch that.
David Foster Wallace the Populist Movement
You probably missed the recent Infinite Summer when "endurance bibliophiles from around the world read Infinite Jest over the summer of 2009, June 21st to September 22nd. A thousand pages ÷ 92 days = 75 pages a week. No sweat." Greg Carlisle, author of Elegant Complexity: A Study of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, wrote one of the great wrap-up pieces: Reading Infinite Jest Changed My Life (and Now It Will Change Yours):
Reading Infinite Jest was the most extraordinary reading experience of my life.
Since finishing Infinite Jest, I have read just about everything Wallace has ever written and have also been motivated to read Barth and Pynchon and an author I'd never heard of, William Gaddis. It is a crime that Gaddis is not as revered an American author as Faulkner or Hemingway or anybody you want to name. I have been motivated to read a 600-page anthology of Modern and Postmodern philosophy (although it took me 14 months). I ordered a Vollmann anthology after reading a Wallace interview. As my wife reminded me when I read this to her, I don't get nauseous anymore, only nauseated. I own and frequently consult Garner's Modern American Usage, a treasured gift from my mother-in-law. I tell my students (and everyone else, too) that not using that final serial comma before the conjunction is just insane and irresponsible. I think This Is Water is one of the most amazing, beautiful things I've ever read and am considering just taking entire class periods at the end of the semester to read it to students. When I want to be a jerk in public, the phrase "this is water" runs through my head and I get calm. Reading Infinite Jest changed my life, and now it's going to change yours. I promise you.
David Foster Wallace the Field of Critical Studies
In just a couple of weeks, a one-day conference called Footnotes: New Directions in David Foster Wallace Studies will be held in New York City. Sessions include "Allegory and Symbolism in 'Westward the Course of Empire Takes its Way': Postmodern Disclosure Disclosed", "Democracy in America: David Foster Wallace's Political Essays", "From the Abyss: James O. Incandenza and the Films of Infinite Jest", "Reading Infinite Jest through Heidegger's 'The Question Concerning Technology'", and "Taboos, Discourse, and New Media: Blogging the Death of David Foster Wallace".
Even though I don't think anyone I know in NYC will go to this, I'm jealous that they can. But then again maybe you'll find yourself free on November 20, Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment.