Synopses & Reviews
Finally back in print — David Foster Wallace and Mark Costello's exuberant exploration of rap music and culture.
Living together in Cambridge in 1989, David Foster Wallace and longtime friend Mark Costello discovered that they shared "an uncomfortable, somewhat furtive, and distinctively white enthusiasm for a certain music called rap/hip-hop." The book they wrote together, set against the legendary Boston music scene, mapped the bipolarities of rap and pop, rebellion and acceptance, glitz and gangsterdom. Signifying Rappers issued a fan's challenge to the giants of rock writing, Greil Marcus, Robert Palmer, and Lester Bangs: Could the new street beats of 1989 set us free, as rock had always promised?
Back in print at last, Signifying Rappers is a rare record of a city and a summer by two great thinkers, writers, and friends. With a new foreword by Mark Costello on his experience writing with David Foster Wallace, this re-release cannot be missed.
"Costello and Wallace's pioneering study is a dazzling performance: informative, provocative, funny and brilliantly written, an intellectually wired style combining subtle and original thought with great wit, insight, and in-your-face energy." Review of Contemporary Fiction
"Self-conscious about their outsider status and given to lamenting how hard it is to get people on the rap scene to talk to dorky white people....Mark Costello and David Foster Wallace have nonetheless delivered...the only theoretically interesting book on rap." The Village Voice
"Two educated white guys do the right thing by scoping out 'The Meaning of Rap' without pretending to know everything about it....Signifying Rappers is both a cogent explication of rap and a cutting, revealing parody of overinflated pseudointellectual rap criticism." Seattle Weekly
About the Author
Mark Costello, who worked as a federal prosecutor, is the author of the National Book Award Finalist Big If. He lives in New York.
David Foster Wallace was born in Ithaca, New York, in 1962 and raised in Illinois, where he was a regionally ranked junior tennis player. He received bachelor of arts degrees in philosophy and English from Amherst College and wrote what would become his first novel, The Broom of the System, as his senior English thesis. He received a masters of fine arts from University of Arizona in 1987 and briefly pursued graduate work in philosophy at Harvard University. His second novel, Infinite Jest, was published in 1996. Wallace taught creative writing at Emerson College, Illinois State University, and Pomona College, and published the story collections Girl with Curious Hair, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, Oblivion, the essay collections A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, and Consider the Lobster. He was awarded the MacArthur Fellowship, a Lannan Literary Award, and a Whiting Writers' Award, and was appointed to the Usage Panel for The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. He died in 2008. His last novel, The Pale King, was published in 2011.