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Conversations with David Foster Wallaceby Stephen J. Burn
Synopses & Reviews
Across two decades of intense creativity, David Foster Wallace (1962-2008) crafted a remarkable body of work that ranged from unclassifiable essays, to a book about transfinite mathematics, to vertiginous fictions. Whether through essay volumes (A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, Consider the Lobster), short story collections (Girl with Curious Hair, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, Oblivion), or his novels (Infinite Jest, The Broom of the System), the luminous qualities of Wallace's work recalibrated our measures of modern literary achievement. Conversations with David Foster Wallace gathers twenty-two interviews and profiles that trace the arc of Wallace's career, shedding light on his omnivorous talent
Jonathan Franzen has argued that, for Wallace, an interview provided a formal enclosure in which the writer "could safely draw on his enormous native store of kindness and wisdom and expertise." Wallace's interviews create a wormhole in which an author's private theorizing about art spill into the public record. Wallace's best interviews are vital extra-literary documents, in which we catch him thinking aloud about his signature concerns--irony's magnetic hold on contemporary language, the pale last days of postmodernism, the delicate exchange that exists between reader and writer. At the same time, his acute focus moves across MFA programs, his negotiations with religious belief, the role of footnotes in his writing, and his multifaceted conception of his work's architecture. Conversations with David Foster Wallace includes a previously unpublished interview from 2005, and a version of Larry McCaffery's influential Review of Contemporary Fiction interview with Wallace that has been expanded with new material drawn from the original raw transcript.
"Spanning Wallace's 20-year career, from 1987 until his suicide in 2008, this collection of interviews and profiles sheds light on a man as intricately constructed as his fiction. While thematic repetitions are inevitable when the subject matter overlaps — many of the interviews concern Wallace's ambitious and critically lauded 1996 novel, Infinite Jest — on the whole each encounter with the author provides another piece of the puzzle. Larry McCaffery's 1993 interview from the Review of Contemporary Fiction is the most in-depth and also the most academic, but its discussion of the writer's struggle to balance the story's needs with the writer's need to be admired ('Hey! Look at me! Have a look at what a good writer I am! Like me!') is fascinating. Despite his eloquence, Wallace often underscored his distaste for interviews, touring, and practically anything else that made him the center of attention, a fact that curiously correlated with his insistence that good writing acts as an 'an anodyne against loneliness.' About himself he said, with some chagrin, 'I'm an exhibitionist who wants to hide, but is unsuccessful at hiding; therefore, somehow I succeed.' The final, posthumous Rolling Stone profile, 'The Lost Years and Last Days of David Foster Wallace,' is even more heartbreaking when read as both the coda of the book and of a life." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Contemporary discussions on nonfiction are often riddled with questions about the boundaries between truth and memory, honesty and artifice, facts and lies.and#160; Just how much truth is in nonfiction?and#160; How much is a lie? Blurring the Boundaries sets out to answer such questions while simultaneously exploring the limits of the form.
This collection features twenty genre-bending essays from todayand#8217;s most renowned teachers and writersand#8212;including original work from Michael Martone, Marcia Aldrich, Dinty W. Moore, Lia Purpura, and Robin Hemley, among others. These essays experiment with structure, style, and subject matter, and each isand#160;accompanied by the writerand#8217;s personal reflection on the work itself, illuminating his or her struggles along the way. As these innovative writers stretch the limits of genre, they take us with them, offering readers a front-row seat to an ever-evolving form.
Readers also receive a practical approach to craft thanks to the unique writing exercises provided by the writers themselves. Part groundbreaking nonfiction collection, part writing reference, Blurring the Boundaries serves as the ideal book for literary lovers and practitioners of the craft.and#160;
Conversations with the author of A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, and Infinite Jest
About the Author
Stephen J. Burn is associate professor of modern and contemporary literature at Northern Michigan University--Marquette. He is the author of Jonathan Franzen at the End of Postmodernism; Intersections: Essays on Richard Powers; and David Foster Wallace's "Infinite Jest": A Reader's Guide.
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