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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Obligatory DFW Post

Ibrahim N. Abusharif of The Millions wrote a brilliant aticle about reading the David Foster Wallace edited edition of the 2007 edition of The Best American Essays in Qatar.

This is my favorite quote:

"As an essayist and novelist, Wallace had a skilled hand at shrewd deconstruction—someone who can take apart, for example, cultural staples of leisure, like a county fair or cruise trip, to reveal what he sees as stifling banality that distracts and sedates."*

It is this ability to deconstruct everyday things, especially in his nonfiction, that makes DFW so entertaining for me**. He was curious about everything, and he followed his curiosity into the most interesting corners of thought, never forgetting to bring the reader along for the ride. I'm so glad that he left such a large, and dense, body of work to peruse and argue about for a long time to come.

You can read the essay here.

*Second favorite quote is this one from DFW himself: “In sum, to really try to be informed and literate today is to feel stupid nearly all the time, and to need help.”
**E.g. In Consider the Lobster there is an essay in which he uses a review of a dictionary in order to launch into a massive exploration of lexicography, usage, authority, and the descriptivism vs. prescriptivism debate.