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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Why You Should Care About David Foster Wallace (If You Don’t Already)

posted by on September 16 at 13:17 PM


I’ve already written about why I was so sad about David Foster Wallace’s death. But if you don’t know much about DFW, or you’ve only read (or tried to read) his fiction, there are some things you really ought to read.

Harper’s has benevolently posted a number of Foster Walllace’s essays for free on their website. They’re PDFs, so if you work in an office-type environment, you might be able to pass them off as work. I wholeheartedly recommend “Shipping Out: On the (nearly lethal) comforts of a luxury cruise,” which would eventually become the title essay in A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again. The others are very good, too. The whole page, if read in its entirety, practically serves as a free e-book primer for the Foster Wallace initiate who doesn’t want to do the morbid dance of going to a bookstore and asking for the work of a recently deceased author. You’ve gotta love the internet.

And this essay at Rolling Stone, about one week he spent with the John McCain presidential campaign of 2000, is the one I call “one particularly important essay about John McCain that every American should be required by law to read before November 4.” The essay was recently republished as a book called McCain’s Promise, and it has a foreword that’s very useful in contextualizing the 2000 McCain with the 2008 McCain. You should read this essay, in one of its forms, soon.

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I'm sorry, but I can't stop thinking that McCain's owners had DFW killed.

Posted by whatevernevermind | September 16, 2008 1:28 PM

Wow. "...the people are cheering not for him so much as for how good it feels to believe him." Doesn't it kind of contextualize the 2000 McCain with the 2008...all of them?

Posted by tomasyalba | September 16, 2008 1:53 PM

Thanks for the links to his writing. I suppose I am in the minority, but I don't think I had ever heard of DFW, at least consciously. And so all this coverage has sort of depressed and surprised me, because I feel like I missed something great.

Posted by Brad | September 16, 2008 2:07 PM

if i read it, will it make me want to vote FOR mccain? because i don't want to now.

Posted by max solomon | September 16, 2008 2:09 PM

I am currently engrossed in the article... did I read this in 2000? I must have. I remember now why I was excited about McCain then... and it's only the more depressing given the person he has become.

Posted by Julie in Chicago | September 16, 2008 2:10 PM

I wonder if there's video of him and the line that DFW says he used to say at every town hall:

I may have said some things here today that maybe you don't agree with, and I might have said something things you hopefully do agree with. But I will always. Tell you. The truth.

That would be some great video to pair with the McCain is a lying liar meme in an ad.

Posted by Julie in Chicago | September 16, 2008 2:37 PM

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