David Foster Wallace Archive

Stories Strangely Told: Big Want

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The way we most often talk about it desire is an aspect of character. Which is all fine, really, until we slam into those desires so bullish in their insistency that no longer can we play like we own them.

Novels Where the Digressions Are Half the Point

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Of all the reasons to read a novel, plot tends to be the most compelling. Yet atmosphere, ideas, humor, the construction of a well-turned-out sentence--all these are also incentives to keep turning pages.

Stories Strangely Told: Stories That Break Their Molds

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There are stories that break from patterns, and stories that pull so hard at their stitching that they unravel themselves in the process.

A Transformative Act: Words Become Music—An Interview with Composer Eric Moe

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Eric Moe is a pianist with a penchant for eclectic harmonies, provocative rhythms, melody lines that curl and cling to the listener’s ear. He’s also developed, over the course of a rich career, a kind of perfect pitch for incorporating text to music.

The Bricklayer, the Atheist, and David Foster Wallace

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There is this wonderful pseudo-parable in Infinite Jest, about 150 pages in, that a State Farm claims agent, murrayf, shares through internal Interlace-System email with his friends at work.

Feminism by Way of Tragic Misogyny in Brief Interviews with Hideous Men

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In social justice activism, offensive rhetoric is considered a form of toxic pollution. Language shapes our culture, society, and schema for thinking about different groups, and so can never be considered harmless.

Titles: A Typography

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I’ve always had a wretched time titling my writing. It’s the last thing I do with any piece, and not without a lot of deep sighing. In panic mode I have a rattling tendency to latch on to songs; just in the short history of my posts here, I’ve

INFINITE JEST as Performance Art

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I was at Punta della Dogana in Venice when I first saw Ryan Trecartin’s Center Jenny. The movie was projected on the wall and brooded over Lizzie Fitch’s sculptures: lawn chairs and picnic benches chained to golf course-quality grass like a scary garden party. The film itself follows a

A Knack for Names

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I once read (though the source is now lost to me) that the names of the characters in a novel do the work of telling the reader what world he’s in. Musicality, characterization, hints at a character’s gender, ethnicity, and social status—all of these are important in a name.

The Saving Thing

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Mark Twain called humor “the great thing, the saving thing,” and indeed I have yet to meet the person who doesn’t like to laugh. Why, then, aren’t a greater number of humorous stories published in literary journals? Why don’t more humorous books—or films, for that matter—win prizes? “In the