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Works by
David Foster Wallace
(Writer)
[February 21, 1962 – September 12, 2008 (Suicide)]

Profile created August 25, 2009
Essays
  • Consider the Lobster: And Other Essays (2005)
    Do lobsters feel pain? Did Franz Kafka have a funny bone? What is John Updike's deal, anyway? And what happens when adult video starlets meet their fans in person? David Foster Wallace answers these questions and more in essays that are also enthralling narrative adventures. Whether covering the three-ring circus of a vicious presidential race, plunging into the wars between dictionary writers, or confronting the World's Largest Lobster Cooker at the annual Maine Lobster Festival, Wallace projects a quality of thought that is uniquely his and a voice as powerful and distinct as any in American letters.

  • A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments (1997)
    This exuberantly praised--and uproariously funny--first collection of nonfiction pieces by one of the most acclaimed and adventurous writers of our time--the author of "Infinite Jest"--"reconfirms Mr. Wallace's stature as one of his generation's preeminent talents" ("New York Times") 5-city author tour.

Fiction
  • The Pale King (2010) (Incomplete at the time of his death.)

  • Infinite Jest (1996)
    A gargantuan, mind-altering comedy about the Pursuit of Happiness in America Set in an addicts' halfway house and a tennis academy, and featuring the most endearingly screwed-up family to come along in recent fiction, Infinite Jest explores essential questions about what entertainment is and why it has come to so dominate our lives; about how our desire for entertainment affects our need to connect with other people; and about what the pleasures we choose say about who we are. Equal parts philosophical quest and screwball comedy, Infinite Jest bends every rule of fiction without sacrificing for a moment its own entertainment value. It is an exuberant, uniquely American exploration of the passions that make us human - and one of those rare books that renew the idea of what a novel can do.

  • The Broom of the System (1987)
    Published when Wallace was just twenty-four years old, The Broom of the System stunned critics and marked the emergence of an extraordinary new talent. At the center of this outlandishly funny, fiercely intelligent novel is the bewitching heroine, Lenore Stonecipher Beadsman. The year is 1990 and the place is a slightly altered Cleveland, Ohio. Lenore’s great-grandmother has disappeared with twenty-five other inmates of the Shaker Heights Nursing Home. Her beau, and boss, Rick Vigorous, is insanely jealous, and her cockatiel, Vlad the Impaler, has suddenly started spouting a mixture of psycho- babble, Auden, and the King James Bible. Ingenious and entertaining, this debut from one of the most innovative writers of his generation brilliantly explores the paradoxes of language, storytelling, and reality.

Non-fiction
  • This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life (2009)
    Only once did David Foster Wallace give a public talk on his views on life, during a commencement address given in 2005 at Kenyon College. The speech is reprinted for the first time in book form in This is Water. How does one keep from going through their comfortable, prosperous adult life unconsciously? How do we get ourselves out of the foreground of our thoughts and achieve compassion? The speech captures Wallace's electric intellect as well as his grace in attention to others. After his death, it became a treasured piece of writing reprinted in The Wall Street Journal and the London Times, commented on endlessly in blogs, and emailed from friend to friend.

    Writing with his one-of-a-kind blend of causal humor, exacting intellect, and practical philosophy, David Foster Wallace probes the challenges of daily living and offers advice that renews us with every reading.

  • McCain's Promise: Aboard the Straight Talk Express with John McCain and a Whole Bunch of Actual Reporters, Thinking About Hope (2008)
    Is John McCain "For Real?"

    That's the question David Foster Wallace set out to explore when he first climbed aboard Senator McCain's campaign caravan in February 2000. It was a moment when Mccain was increasingly perceived as a harbinger of change, the anticandidate whose goal was "to inspire young Americans to devote themselves to causes greater than their own self-interest." And many young Americans were beginning to take notice.

    To get at "something riveting and unspinnable and true" about John Mccain, Wallace finds he must pierce the smoke screen of spin doctors and media manipulators. And he succeeds-in a characteristically potent blast of journalistic brio that not only captures the lunatic rough-and-tumble of a presidential campaign but also delivers a compelling inquiry into John McCain himself: the senator, the POW, the campaign finance reformer, the candidate, the man.

  • Everything and More: A Compact History of Infinity (2003)
    One of the outstanding voices of his generation, David Foster Wallace has won a large and devoted following for the intellectual ambition and bravura style of his fiction and essays. Now he brings his considerable talents to the history of one of math's most enduring puzzles: the seemingly paradoxical nature of infinity. Is infinity a valid mathematical property or a meaningless abstraction? The nineteenth-century mathematical genius Georg Cantor's answer to this question not only surprised him but also shook the very foundations upon which math had been built. Cantor's counterintuitive discovery of a progression of larger and larger infinities created controversy in his time and may have hastened his mental breakdown, but it also helped lead to the development of set theory, analytic philosophy, and even computer technology.

  • Up, Simba! (2000)
    In February 2000, Rolling Stone magazine sent David Foster Wallace, "Not a Political Journalist," on the road for a week with Senator John McCain's campaign to win the Republican nomination for the presidency. They wanted to know why McCain appealed so much to so many Americans, and particularly why he appealed to the "Young Voters" of America who generally show nothing but apathy.

    iPublish is bringing out the "Director's Cut" (three times longer than the RS article) of this incisive, funny, thoughtful piece about life on "Bullshit One" (the nickname for the press bus that followed McCain's Straight Talk Express. Election 2000 is (finally) over, and this eBook; with its information about what we know, don't know, and don't want to know about the way our political campaigns work; is more relevant than ever.

  • Signifying Rappers: Rap and Race In the Urban Present (1990) with Mark Costello

Short Stories
  • Oblivion: Stories (2004)
    In the stories that make up Oblivion, David Foster Wallace joins the rawest, most naked humanity with the infinite involutions of self-consciousness--a combination that is dazzlingly, uniquely his. These are worlds undreamt-of by any other mind. Only David Foster Wallace could convey a father's desperate loneliness by way of his son's daydreaming through a teacher's homicidal breakdown ("The Soul Is Not a Smithy"). Or could explore the deepest and most hilarious aspects of creativity by delineating the office politics surrounding a magazine profile of an artist who produces miniature sculptures in an anatomically inconceivable way ("The Suffering Channel"). Or capture the ache of love's breakdown in the painfully polite apologies of a man who believes his wife is hallucinating the sound of his snoring ("Oblivion"). Each of these stories is a complete world, as fully imagined as most entire novels, at once preposterously surreal and painfully immediate. Oblivion is an arresting and hilarious creation from a writer "whose best work challenges and reinvents the art of fiction" (Atlanta Journal-Constitution).

  • Brief Interviews with Hideous Men (1999)
    An exuberantly acclaimed collection of twenty-two stories that combine hilarity and an escalating disquiet as they expand our ideas of the pleasures fiction can afford. Wallace was recently selected by Time as one of the four outstanding young American writers. The hardcover was a bestseller on the Independent, the Los Angeles Times, the Boston Globe, and the San Francisco Chronicle bestseller lists.

  • Girl with Curious Hair (1989)
    This collection could possibly represent the first flowering of post-postmoderism: visions of the world that re-imagine reality as more realistic than we can imagine. A compelling presence of a holograph and the up-to-the-second feeling of the most advanced art.

Other
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