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September 24, 2008

CAAF: Morning coffee

David Foster Wallace appreciations, remembrances and re-prints abound right now. A few addenda you may have missed: The syllabus to a Literary Interpretations class he taught at Pomona (via Book Bench; via Crooked House); the text to the commencement address he gave at Kenyon College in 2005 (if you're at all interested in DFW you've probably already read this one but it merits a re-read); and an old interview he gave to Amherst College's alumni magazine, where he talks about his five-draft method.

If you didn't catch it at the time, I also urge you to go read author Erin Hogan's fine piece on Wallace, which appeared in this space last Friday. Erin notes that DFW didn't use footnotes to appear clever but "because they are the closest approximations in a literary form to the mass of nonlinear parenthetical thoughts that is the monkey brain of all of us doing its job," an observation that made my monkey brain cough up these two footnoted thoughts:
1. It was strange, wasn't it, how the layout of "The Host" in The Atlantic, in which the footnotes were color-coded and looked like molecular globules floating on the page, was an almost too-literal progression of this idea of diagramming thought on paper.
2. I've always thought DFW cold-mugged Wittgenstein's Mistress for parts of Infinite Jest, particularly David Markson's technique of having a character's (seemingly) abandoned thoughts re-surface as non sequiturs in later pages. Very rhythmic, like a swimmer surfacing then disappearing then resurfacing again. If it hasn't already been done, someone should write a paper on that.

Posted September 24, 2008 1:00 AM

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