Monday, November 26, 2012

Winning serve

Both Flesh and Not by David Foster Wallace

It’s been four years since the American novelist David Foster Wallace took his own life at the age of 46. The Wallace industry has been busier since his death than it ever was while he lived. In 2009 it gave us This is Water, a padded-out version of a graduation address he delivered in 2005. His undergraduate Philosophy thesis was published in 2010. In 2011 we had his big posthumous novel, the characteristically brilliant but annoying The Pale King. D. T. Max’s biography, Every Love Story is a Ghost Story, came out earlier this year. 

Now we have Both Flesh and Not, a compilation of Wallace’s uncollected non-fiction. Mark that word “uncollected.” Wallace published two books of essays during his lifetime: A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again (1997) and Consider the Lobster (2005). The bulk of this new book consists of early essays that Wallace chose not to reprint in those volumes. In almost every case it isn’t hard to see why ... [read more]