Infinite Summer

Formed in the summer of 2009 to read David Foster Wallace's masterwork "Infinite Jest".
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 Post subject: DFW's essays // "Consider the Lobster"
PostPosted: Wed Jun 17, 2009 2:52 am 
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Hey guys, I've been switched onto David Foster Wallace very recently (within the past year I guess) and admittedly I am a huge huge geek about his writing already. Just finished reading his collection of essays in "Consider the Lobster" - also posted my review of it in my personal blog at http://aeverywhere.blogspot.com/ - and was wondering if anyone else has read it. I'm excited to get deep into the DFW discussion this summer. :mrgreen:

Also, recommendations for which of his other works to tackle next? I'm reading Infinite Jest of course, but I can't ever seem to read just one book (or 2... or 3) at a time. Especially since Infinite Jest is a veritable tome to lug onto the Metro. Or I'm your stereotypically frail, literate type, who knows. I've heard good about "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again." Word?

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 Post subject: Re: DFW's essays // "Consider the Lobster"
PostPosted: Wed Jun 17, 2009 7:27 am 
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I've read that collection and really liked it. That's what turned me on to DFW and what made this Infinite Jest project attractive to me. The only other DFW I've read is his Kenyon graduation address, which has recently been published as This is Water. I read it online back when it was still easy to find.

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 Post subject: Re: DFW's essays // "Consider the Lobster"
PostPosted: Fri Jun 19, 2009 11:41 am 
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A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again is just as good (and as wildly varied) as Consider the Lobster if you want to continue with his non-fiction works. Obviously you'll be spending a lot of time with DFW the novelist this summer, but I think it's important to be familiar with his short fiction, too. His short stories are different yet than his novels and journalistic pieces. I think Brief Interviews with Hideous Men is a good place to start with the short stuff, though the stories in Oblivion (his most recent collection of stories) truly showcase him at the height of his powers. "Good Old Neon" and "Another Pioneer" are two of my favorite short stories of all time.


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 Post subject: Re: DFW's essays // "Consider the Lobster"
PostPosted: Fri Jun 19, 2009 1:14 pm 
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Thanks for that, Dan. I'll add those to my list. I might not get to them until after IJ. But, if there's a lull in the action, you never know.

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 Post subject: Re: DFW's essays // "Consider the Lobster"
PostPosted: Fri Jun 19, 2009 3:07 pm 
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Thanks for the recs! I'll probably give his short fiction a go.

It seems I can't get enough DFW since discovering him. My friend (who is also tackling IJ this summer) just sent me "Shipping Out," an article by Wallace for Harper's Magazine about his experience aboard a luxury cruise. Fun read:
http://www.harpers.org/media/pdf/dfw/Ha ... 007859.pdf

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 Post subject: Re: DFW's essays // "Consider the Lobster"
PostPosted: Sat Jun 20, 2009 7:52 am 
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That's actually the same as the title piece from A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, only the book restores it to it's 90+ page original form. I still chuckle out loud when I think of the ninja room cleaners and "Video-Camera Man." 8-)


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 Post subject: Re: DFW's essays // "Consider the Lobster"
PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2009 6:39 pm 
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I'm in the midst of A Supposedly Fun Thing.... The title essay is just absolutely fantastic, and most notably one of the most lol-worthy pieces of writing I've ever read. At this point, the man could have written 100 pages detailing his morning bowel movement and I'd be on board.


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 Post subject: Re: DFW's essays // "Consider the Lobster"
PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 3:56 pm 
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Consider the Lobster, is a very entertaining essay and DFW include a reference to the ethicist Peter Singer. The essay's name is after a reference to the ethical considerations of killing animals for food.

I have always marvelled at DFW's unswerving and deep exploration of concepts (especially with his characters in I.J.). However, on this essay, I was somewhat disappointed that he didn't go further with the issue animal rights - which is fertile territory for creative writing.

Still a good essay, so not a complaint. I suppose I was left wanting 'more' from him on this particular work.


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 Post subject: Re: DFW's essays // "Consider the Lobster"
PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 4:35 pm 
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Hmm, at the risk of sounding too vigorous a DFW apologist, I think it is important to remember that the essay was written as an assignment by Gourmet magazine to write about the lobster festival. From that perspective, I don't think there are very many people who would claim that "not going far enough" is one of its flaws. Rather, how uncompromisingly far he lets his inquiry go from such an almost mundane starting point is much more striking. Supposedly, Gourmet received a lot of pretty horrified letters after the article ran. Here's one article you can check out on the piece's origins:

http://www.observer.com/2008/media/jocelyn-zuckerman-remembers-editing-dfws-consider-lobster-gourmet#


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 Post subject: Re: DFW's essays // "Consider the Lobster"
PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 6:12 pm 
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Quote:
I think Brief Interviews with Hideous Men is a good place to start with the short stuff, though the stories in Oblivion (his most recent collection of stories) truly showcase him at the height of his powers. "Good Old Neon" and "Another Pioneer" are two of my favorite short stories of all time.


I couldn't agree more - absolutely. Having read IJ halfway - and stopped - read his short story collections (titles mentioned above) and back to rereading IJ from the beginning again. Couldn't think of a reason not to read these in conjunction with.


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