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Archive for September 2008

David Foster Wallace

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David Foster Wallace

David Foster Wallace

David Foster Wallace was a prolific American novelist, essayist, journalist, etc., who hanged himself on Sept. 12 at the age of 46.  While Wallace, author of such works as Infinite Jest and A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, died a literary titan of Roth or Updike ilk, his death will no doubt continue the unfortunate trend of authors whose untimely deaths recontextualize their works.  I am one of the thousands (and thousands more to come) who have only discovered Wallace’s works in the wake of the author’s death, and I can only wonder what it was like to read these works when their source was still living.

It’s almost cliched, to note the fallacy of literary critics’ predictable textual detective work when an author takes his own life (if you were wondering, the answer appears to be chronic depression and a catastrophic change in meds).  Yes, the impulse is to look for answers in his work, as if buried somewhere in the jungle of Infinite Jest’s footnotes was a note titled, ‘Noose: The Final Solution,’ and yes, this does seem ridiculous.  But that won’t stop anyone from scratching the itch, and it’s a particlarly tenacious itch in the case of DFW because here’s the thing: it is really hard to see ‘suicide’ in between his lines.  Compared to someone like Hemingway, whose literary career was like one long (good) suicide note, David Foster Wallace’s writing is full of energy and enthusiasm, even when he dwells on the paranoia and futility of modern living (which he does, a lot).  This, ultimately, was Wallace’s exemplary virtue as a writer: the ability to discuss moral and sociopolitical conundrae with unflinching wit and excitement.  I can only assume he was as interesting to read alive as he is dead.

Consider the Lobster,” Wallace’s now-famous piece for Gourmet magazine about the Maine Lobster Festival.

Derivative Sport in Tornado Alley,” the first essay in the collection, A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again

And in 2001 Wallace wrote an absolutely amazing piece on John McCain for Rolling Stone.  Log off of G Chat, close that Excel window, and read this piece right now.

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Written by Peter Kelly

September 26, 2008 at 3:43 pm

Simon Rich

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Simon RIch

Simon RIch

“Always open with a joke,” is what somebody probably said once.  So for my first trick, I present a few links with short comedy scenarios written by 22ish year old writer Simon Rich.  RIch is an awkward dweeb (see above) who has released one book, “Ant Farm”, which Jon Stewart (as is mentioned in every single blurb about Rich and even on the front of his book) called “hillarious.”  I’ve never found the context of that quote, but I am willing to support it.  Simon Rich writes mostly about everyday ironies, which is to say he writes mostly about childhood, since clusters of irony seem particularly prevalent in that region of life.  He has been published in the New Yorker and now writes for Saturday Night Live, which, when you think about it, should make you feel pretty pathetic.

The Wisdom of Childern (From the New Yorker)

Play Nice (Also from the New Yorker)

Animal Tales (He’s like the Donald Trump of getting jokes in the New Yorker)

For contrast, a pretty dull puff piece on the man from New York Magazine

Note: I just noticed that RIch has released another book called Free Range Chicken, but since I haven’t read it it really doesn’t exist for our purposes.

Written by Peter Kelly

September 24, 2008 at 2:58 am

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“Yes.”

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Is this a blog?  “Yes.  It is.”

What kind of a blog is this?  “The kind where a guy (whose name is Me) posts things for you to read during your boring, awful, tedious work day.”

Oh yeah?  “Yeah.  Work safe things that will ‘make you think,’ or ‘laugh,’ or ‘close the browser and never come back.'”

What gives you the right?  “Freedom.”

Written by Peter Kelly

September 22, 2008 at 11:49 pm

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