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Infinite Press

Megan Buskey

A guide to the buzz surrounding David Foster Wallace.

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In our spring issue, we published an In Essence item on the growing amount of academic scholarship on the work of David Foster Wallace, the lauded American novelist behind Infinite Jest (1996) who hanged himself in 2008. Since we finished that issue, the number of pieces on Wallace has multiplied prodigiously. That’s no surprise, as Wallace’s highly-anticipated posthumous novel, The Pale King, had a publication date of April 15. Where is the budding Wallace fan to start? Here are a few pieces I particularly enjoy on Wallace’s complex life and career:

* Critic Jon Baskin published an elegant account of Wallace’s place in the literary pantheon in The Point.

* Writer John Jeremiah Sullivan’s piece on The Pale King in GQ is sad, funny, and tremendously insightful—one of the best essays on literature I’ve read in recent memory.

* Bookworm host Michael Silverblatt had Wallace on his radio show a number of times over the years. Silverblatt is a famously attentive reader and a probing but kind interviewer—the conversations between the pair made me want to read everything Wallace ever wrote.

* Maria Bustillos visited the newly-opened Wallace archive at the Henry Ransom Center at the University of Texas, Austin, and produced a fascinating report on a private Wallace pastime: reading (and scribbling comments throughout) self-help books. (If the archive sounds familiar, you may have seen an image we plucked from it for the Portrait page of the Winter ’11 issue.)

What else would you recommend on DFW?

 
Photo credit: Jake Mohan, via flickr