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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Both Flesh and Not: Essays

I love David Foster Wallace. I love his love of vocabulary, of grammar, of sentence structure. I love the way he plays with our understanding of it all. So here are the essays of Both Flesh and Not.

Mr. Wallace's collection (well, the one the publisher put together anyway) runs the gamut from his love of tennis to his outward contempt for people who use words incorrectly. One essay excoriates those who choose to use words such as "if" and "individual" in incorrect forms. It's hard not to love him. His guest editor introduction to The Best American Essays 2007 is reprinted here under the title, "Deciderization 2007 - A Special Report" which I just adored through every word, period, and comma. Honestly, I could have ended the book after the second essay, "Fictional Futures and the Conspicuously Young," reprinted from The Review of Contemporary Fiction in 1988. I, too, have issues with the mid-80's trio of Family Dancing, Less Than Zero, and Bright Lights, Big City that (for the most part) align with Wallace's convictions. I fell even deeper in love with the writer three sentences into this essay and could have died happy just then and there.

I think David Foster Wallace is one of those writers with whom you either fall in love or quickly come to despise. I love the riddle that is his writing, so much in fact that I am taking the whole year to read Infinite Jest. I have adored his books of essays and I can't wait to read more. His way around a sentence is nothing short of marvelous and frankly, awesome. "Federer Both Flesh and Not" is a riot in the way that this man could take his love of a sport and heighten it to a level worth of a Pulitzer.

His final essay in this collection, "Just Asking," reprinted from a 2007 edition of The Atlantic, stunned me with its honest and forthright of our government and our blindness to everyday sacrifices. Want to know of what I speak? Read the book.

What a loss to the literary community, and anyone who loves a smart read. I am thankful to have found his words.


Yours to own. Kindle version on left, hard copy on right.
 

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