Archive for the ‘books’ Category


December 7, 2008



Before twitter

December 2, 2008


By David Foster Wallace.  From:



September 25, 2008

So Wallace committed suicide on 9/12.  Hung himself.

The number of posthumous appraisals written in the short time between then and now is staggering.

Tried keeping up for a bit, but good luck.

If you’re wondering why all the fuss, there’s an exhaustive catalogue of what’s been written so far here.  Dig in.

My personal favorite, by far, was the live eulogy performed by the Available Light crew (plus special guest, Artie Isaac, whose thoughts on DFW you can read here, along with a mini-review in the comments from Advergirl, who obviously knows her lit) as part of the Independents’ Day festival last Saturday on Gay St.

I’d forgotten how funny Brief Interviews with Hideous Men could be.

And how it felt the first time to read (and re-read, a couple times, alternately flipping from the story to the inside blurbs to the back cover’s author pic and back, before going on, trying to make sense) that opening scene from Infinite Jest, my intro to Wallace.

A book which, for a while, I re-read about once every other year.  Losing myself.  Again.  With characters people like Pemulis and that sideways, ‘drine-fueled glance; Lenz with those rats; Poor Tony.  Big Don Gately.  Picking up on stuff I’d missed before.

And then which book I also raved frothingly about to anybody who’d listen.  Friends, family.  People who LOVE to read!  I’d corner them: Read this. And, yet, to this day, I only know of one person whom I recommended/gave the book to who ever actually finished it.  The rest couldn’t hack it or just didn’t get it and gave up.

On some of the most spectacular writing.  Ever.

Anyhow, all that came flooding back on Saturday, at Due Amici, with ALT’s performance.  And though I was lathered up pretty good with sunblock because of the skin thing — and, yes, some did get in my eye, thank you — I’ll confess that there were a couple real tears interspersed in there, somewhere.

And, in my more self-directed moments, I like to think the performance was in some way for/because of me.

So thanks, Matt, regardless if it was or wasn’t.

I’m just glad to finally know an actual fellow Wallace fan in the flesh.

we think

March 13, 2008

from charles leadbeater.

r.i.p. mailer

November 16, 2007

out of town last weekend without access to wifi or the usual media, i didn’t even know norman mailer passed away saturday until it was alluded to in yesterday’s dispatch (haven’t cracked open the cover of this week’s new yorker yet but i’m sure there’s a postscript). [ed. note: there is, and they nailed it.]

but set aside for a moment what you know or think you know about mailer “the performer,” as the new yorker puts it, and consider his work. of course, he often appeared as a third-person character in his own work, so maybe that’s an impossibly tall order. forget that. the two are inseparable. both, equally fascinating.

instead, consider armies of the night, his nonfiction account of his participation in the 1967 anti-vietnam march on the pentagon. genre-wise, the nonfiction categorization of this book is often preceded with “creative” or “literary,” and it’s certainly nothing if not high art. mailer’s in full command of his writerly faculty and trenchant wit here — this book’s hilarious — and his powers of observation and eye for detail have never been keener. nor his sense of self. the egotistical “tragicomic hero” is on full display and i love every minute of it.

here’s some typical mailer on mailer, excerpted from chapter 2:

All right, let us look into his mind. It has been burned out by the gouts of bourbon he has taken into himself the night before (in fact, one of the reasons he detests napalm is that he assumes its effect on the countryside is comparable to the ravages of booze on the better foliage of his brain) however, one can make too much of a hangover, these are comic profits which should perhaps be reinvested—his headache is in truth not thunderous so much as definite and ineradicable until late afternoon, when whiskey wastes half-cleared, he will feel legitimized to take another drink. In the meantime, he must stir his stupefied message center into sufficient activity to give him a mind to meet the minds he would encounter this day, for this day, Friday, was—you will recall—the occasion on which he would lend the dubious substance of his name to those young men brave enough, idealistic enough, (and doubtless vegetarian enough!) to give their draft cards back to the government on the steps of the Department of Justice. Mailer detested the thought of getting through the upcoming hours.

armies of the night won the pulitzer prize and the national book award in ’68. go read.