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Posts Tagged ‘david foster wallace’

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(by paula scher at nytimes.com)

follow the link for a lovely essay on the evolution of narcissistic, aggressive, sexual masculinity in great male authors’ prose.

[ stefanie ]

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i continue to make my way through the aforementioned a supposedly fun thing i’ll never do again by david foster wallace, deterred only momentarily by a four-day backpacking trip where daylight was spent hiking up mountains not reading books. now i am back in civilization, and back to ravenously eating up every word davey f walls puts down.

in his essay “e unibus pluram: television and u.s. fiction” he quotes a dude named lewis hyde (oh man, how i love the footnotes) as saying “irony has only emergency use. carried over time, it is the voice of the trapped who have come to enjoy their cage.” adbusters, eat your heart out.

he also shares a passage by novelist don delillo, whom i am now inspired to read as soon as i finish this book and then infinite jest because really how can i consider myself an obsessed fan of dfw without reading his biggest book i mean really i should be ashamed of myself.

this is from delillo’s 1985 white noise:

several days later murray asked me about a tourist attraction known as the most photographed barn in america. we drove twenty-two miles into the country around farmington. there were meadows and apple orchards. white fences trailed through the rolling fields. soon the signs started appearing. THE MOST PHOTOGRAPHED BARN IN AMERICA. we counted five signs before we reached the site . . . we walked along a cowpath to the slightly elevated spot set aside for viewing and photographing. all the people had cameras; some had tripods, telephoto lenses, filter kits. a man in a booth sold postcards and slides — pictures of the barn taken from the elevated spot. we stood near a grove of trees and watched the photographers. murray maintained a prolonged silence, occasionally scrawling some notes in a little book.

“no one sees the barn,” he said finally.

a long silence followed.

“once you’ve seen the signs about the barn, it becomes impossible to see the barn.”

he fell silent once more. people with cameras left the elevated site, replaced at once by some others.

“we’re not here to capture an image. we’re here to maintain one. can you feel it, jack? an accumulation of nameless energies.”

there was an extended silence. the man in the booth sold postcards and slides.

“being here is kind of a spiritual surrender. we see only what the others see. the thousands who were here in the past, those who will come in the future. we’ve agreed to be part of a collective perception. this literally colors our vision. a religious experience in a way, like all tourism.”

another silence ensued.

“they are taking pictures of taking pictures,” he said.

. . . “what was the barn like before it was photographed?” he said. “what did it look like, how was it different from other barns, how was it similar to other barns? we can’t answer these questions because we’ve read the signs, seen the people snapping the pictures. we can’t get outside the aura. we’re part of the aura. we’re here, we’re now.”

he seemed immensely pleased by this.

david foster wallace has much to say about delillo. lots of intruguing insightful ideas. i will not tell you what they are. i am such a literary tease, eh? you should really, really really read this book.

[ stefanie ]

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these are some books we’ve read in the past year or so that have made an impression on us. all titles on the list guarantee many hours of delectable literary enjoyment. some of them are lifeeee chaaaanging. oprah shmoprah; here are our recommendations.

a supposedly fun thing i’ll never do again by david foster wallace

the dharma bums by jack kerouac

the unbearable lightness of being by milan kundera

what is the what by dave eggers

the electric kool-aid acid test by tom wolfe

be here now by ram dass

the omnivore’s dilemma by michael pollan

rant by chuck palahniuk

ham on rye by charles bukowski

the book of imaginary beings by jorge luis borges

[ stefanie ]

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