DAVID FOSTER WALLACE OCTET PDF

Academics explain David Foster Wallace to me. First, the flyers were defaced. This was mid-October — post-Weinstein, pre-C. Wallace taught at ISU for nearly a decade; he wrote almost all his major works there, including the behemoth Infinite Jest. This stuff had been public knowledge for years all of the above is drawn from D. Edel, a big, soft-voiced Chicagoan with thick glasses and a graying beard, spent five years as a military linguist before going to ISU to get his Ph.

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David Foster Wallace was a maximalist. His masterpiece, Infinite Jest, is a 1,page, polyphonic epic about addiction and obsession in millennial America. His journalism and essays, about television and tennis, sea cruises and grammar, always swelled far beyond their allotted word counts cut for publication, he restored many of them to their full length when they were collected in book form.

To experience a Wallace story is often also to experience someone making an agonised attempt to write a story. This was nothing new, of course: the postmodernists of the s were committed to metafiction, the literary technique of self-consciousness that puts the lie to realism, making the audience constantly aware that what they are reading is an artificial construct.

He believed that a movement that had taken shape to unmask the hypocrisies of mass culture had come to lend them an insidious power: once advertising became knowing and ironic, the postmodernist game was up. Wallace began attempting to move beyond irony towards a new sincerity, although he struggled with how to achieve this. The novella that ends the collection, Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way, is a tortuously long assault on postmodernism that paradoxically satirises the strategies of metafiction by employing an encyclopaedic array of metafictional strategies — skilfully enough that it could easily be taken for a piece of metafiction itself.

It was a horror show. It is possible to see Wallace as an artist who grew less certain of what he was doing the longer he did it, but at the same time becoming increasingly certain that this uncertainty was where he should focus his energy. It is this decision, and the scrupulousness with which Wallace pursued it, that can make areas of his work so tricky to engage with.

His second collection, for example, Brief Interviews With Hideous Men , is a brilliant book that is very difficult to enjoy. They are ouroboros-like stories that consume themselves at the same time as we consume them. In Octet, Wallace is working himself to just such a standstill. The misgivings catalogued and explored in Octet are, as Norfolk noted, sincere. This idea of human connection, and whether it is even possible, is present right through his work, from the early story Little Expressionless Animals onwards, but its most urgent interrogation comes in his final and darkest collection, Oblivion The story operates on several different levels: as an adult, the narrator reflects on the day in when he and three classmates were apparently held hostage by an unhinged supply teacher; in fact the narrator was unaware of being a hostage, because he was deeply involved in his habitual pastime of authoring a mental comic strip, the images of which appeared in the reticulate mesh of the classroom windows.

He means the everyday sorrow of it, the smallness of its pleasures against the vastness of its mundanity, and the fear that this is his birthright. This account, in tandem with numerous other glancing references to disappointments and misfortunes scattered throughout the story, is the capstone to a profoundly sorrowful work of fiction.

Flipping the entropy of stories like Octet, or Adult World parts I and II — where the story begins coherently only to become more and more unconventional until it atomises — here, unexpectedly, it is mimesis that comes to dominate a narrative that for much of its length has been fragmented and surreal. To be willing to sort of die in order to move the reader, somehow.

Relationships are fractured, parasitic, and often the cause for psychic pain and disturbance; sex is furtive or coercive. But it is also a deeply moral body of work. Its difficulties, and many of its cruelties, exist for specific reasons. Facebook Twitter Pinterest. Topics David Foster Wallace A brief survey of the short story. Short stories Fiction blogposts. Reuse this content. Order by newest oldest recommendations. Show 25 25 50 All. Threads collapsed expanded unthreaded. Loading comments… Trouble loading?

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David Foster Wallace was a maximalist. His masterpiece, Infinite Jest, is a 1,page, polyphonic epic about addiction and obsession in millennial America. His journalism and essays, about television and tennis, sea cruises and grammar, always swelled far beyond their allotted word counts cut for publication, he restored many of them to their full length when they were collected in book form. To experience a Wallace story is often also to experience someone making an agonised attempt to write a story. This was nothing new, of course: the postmodernists of the s were committed to metafiction, the literary technique of self-consciousness that puts the lie to realism, making the audience constantly aware that what they are reading is an artificial construct. He believed that a movement that had taken shape to unmask the hypocrisies of mass culture had come to lend them an insidious power: once advertising became knowing and ironic, the postmodernist game was up. Wallace began attempting to move beyond irony towards a new sincerity, although he struggled with how to achieve this.

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Academics explain David Foster Wallace to me

Having sat through graduate courses on Postmodernism and Critical Theory, I know the feeling—really—and yet I find Wallace to be one of the more approachable, humanistic purveyors of post-post-whatever meta-fictional experimentation. We get 4 such quizzes, numbered two are labelled 6 and 6A. Number 8 is skipped. And 9 begins with a direct address to the reader:.

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