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On Inside David Foster Wallace's Private Self-Help Library

What you said, Alsy. Very much. Award-winning short stories, award-winning essays, articles on topics as varied as gourmet eating to Roger Federer (which I believe also won an award), books ranging from fiction to explorations on math, hip-hop, etc. He didn't win a MacArthur Award for nothing (and certainly not posthumously).

But -- for some reason -- DFW brings reactions similar to Michael's out in some people. If you don't like him: fine, of course. DFW isn't for everyone. But I'd recommend his Federer article, his cruise ship essay or his "This Is Water" commencement speech before completely turning your back on him. He will go down as a very potent voice for a certain segment of the late 20th/early 21st century global population.

Posted on April 11, 2011 at 12:08 pm 0

On Inside David Foster Wallace's Private Self-Help Library

My tribute to DFW is to be a bit of a nerd here and point out that I think this is close but not quite on the mark. These words do not describe themselves but neither do words like inflamed, vertiginous, smelly, gaseous, blinding, or any word for any color (unless, I guess, you write the word in ink that matches the word itself; green written in green ink, for example). I think the list is more about words whose meaning is in direct opposition to some aspect of the word's DNA (be it length, sound, or spelling). Foreign is an English word. Not foreign at all. The word obscene is fairly proper as is vulgar. Et cetera. DFW talks about this quality of certain words in one of his works -- maybe it's in the Lipsky book. It's a great reminder of how much he loved language.

Posted on April 7, 2011 at 9:22 am 0

On Inside David Foster Wallace's Private Self-Help Library

Yes. This. DFW actually refers to this quality of certain words and has a term for them. I can't remember it off-hand. But it wasn't necessarily negative. It was just an interesting quality that these words share -- their meanings are in seeming contrast to their architecture (be it spelling or pronunciation).

Posted on April 6, 2011 at 5:00 pm 1