Books I Was Never a Fan of David Foster Wallace
posted by September 16 at 15:53 PMon
One of the most brutal articles I wrote for The Stranger was not a review of a play (as my fondest detractors might suspect) but a cruel vivisection of David Foster Wallace’s Everything and More: A Compact History of ∞. I stand by my verdict: It is a shitty, useless book.
But even I, DFW hater extraordinaire, felt compelled to pay tribute in that review to a grammatical quirk the man just couldn’t quit:
Everything is the first volume in the “Great Discoveries” series, through which the publisher, W. W. Norton & Company, intends to “bring new voices to the telling of stories of scientific achievement.” Which goal, as DFW’s habitual syntax would have it, is somewhat suspicious.
He does it within the first 600 words of the Rolling Stone John McCain story Paul linked to:
In October of ‘67 McCain was himself still a Young Voter and flying his 23rd Vietnam combat mission and his A-4 Skyhawk plane got shot down over Hanoi and he had to eject, which basically means setting off an explosive charge that blows your seat out of the plane, which ejection broke both McCain’s arms and one leg and gave him a concussion and he started falling out of the skies right over Hanoi.
I never had a class in grammar as a kid, which neglect almost certainly condemned me to a life spent obsessing over the subject. So, my question for grammarians and those with access to Ask a Librarian: What do you call this construction? An adjectival dependent pronoun followed by—err, I’m getting lost here—a relative clause? Are any of those things even things? Is my “which neglect” proper above, or do you have to have some version of “neglect” in the original sentence?
I’m confused. And I’m really sad that David Foster Wallace isn’t around to answer my question.