Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

Ruth Reichl On David Foster Wallace's "Consider The Lobster": "He Argued Over Every Edit"

"He and I had a huge fight about the editing of that piece…. We even fought about that title."

Over on New Books In Food, hosted by Allen Salkin, Ruth Reichl talks about the editing of David Foster Wallace's "Consider The Lobster" for Gourmet. Reichl had worked to get Wallace to cover something for ages, and finally he settled on a lobster festival. And then… he returned with a piece that was mostly about the agony a lobster must feel: "Is it all right to boil a sentient creature alive just for our gustatory pleasure?" Chaos ensued. Advertisers ran.

You can listen to the whole episode here, in which Reichl discusses everything from New York City hot dogs to James Beard to the history of Gourmet to her writing cabin. Mmm, writing cabin.

6 Comments / Post A Comment

LondonLee (#922)

I worked at The Atlantic when Wallace wrote a (terrific) feature for them about talk radio. According to our managing editor he was a sweetheart to deal with.

True: Whenever the books section reviewed something about WWII or The Holocaust (which was often), BMW pulled their ads for that issue.

Matthew Phelan (#10,133)

@LondonLee I would really like to talk about this BMW thing via email, just sayin'.

LondonLee (#922)

@Matthew Phelan They were just very sensitive about it given their history. I was in the art dept so couldn't tell you any details, it just became a running joke: "Oh, Ben has reviewed another WWII book! Ad sales will be pissed!"

dailyny (#3,326)

"Apparently he didn't drink."

@LondonLee, Wow. Me too.

gggreggg (#272,976)

re: boiling lobsters.
we always made sure the pot of water was at a rolling boil and put the lobster in headfirst to make for nearly instant death and minimal pain.

barnhouse (#1,326)

That was such a great argument (people who eat lobsters would read it.)

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