Fiction

Infinite Jest | ,

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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 next step in fiction...Edgy, accurate, and darkly witty...Think Beckett, think Pynchon, think Gaddis. Think." --Sven Birkerts, The Atlantic.

Literary Collections

The David Foster Wallace Reader | David Foster Wallace

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Where do you begin with a writer as original and brilliant as David Foster Wallace? Here -- with a carefully considered selection of his extraordinary body of work, chosen by a range of great writers, critics, and those who worked with him most closely. This volume presents his most dazzling, funniest, and most heartbreaking work -- essays like his famous cruise-ship piece, "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again," excerpts from his novels The Broom of the System, Infinite Jest, and The Pale King, and legendary stories like "The Depressed Person." Wallace's explorations of morality, self-consciousness, addiction, sports, love, and the many other subjects that occupied him are represented here in both fiction and nonfiction. Collected for the first time are Wallace's first published story, "The View from Planet Trillaphon as Seen In Relation to the Bad Thing" and a selection of his work as a writing instructor, including reading lists, grammar guides, and general guidelines for his students. A dozen writers and critics, including Hari Kunzru, Anne Fadiman, and Nam Le, add afterwords to favorite pieces, expanding our appreciation of the unique pleasures of Wallace's writing. The result is an astonishing volume that shows the breadth and range of "one of America's most daring and talented writers" (Los Angeles Times Book Review) whose work was full of humor, insight, and beauty..

Biography & Autobiography

Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story | D. T. Max

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The acclaimed New York Times–bestselling biography and “emotionally detailed portrait of the artist as a young man” (Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times) In the first biography of the iconic David Foster Wallace, D.T. Max paints the portrait of a man, self-conscious, obsessive and struggling to find meaning. If Wallace was right when he declared he was “frightfully and thoroughly conventional,” it is only because over the course of his short life and stunning career, he wrestled intimately and relentlessly with the fundamental anxiety of being human. In his characteristic lucid and quick-witted style, Max untangles Wallace’s anxious sense of self, his volatile and sometimes abusive connection with women, and above all, his fraught relationship with fiction as he emerges with his masterpiece Infinite Jest. Written with the cooperation of Wallace’s family and friends and with access to hundreds of unpublished letters, manuscripts and journals, this captivating biography unveils the life of the profoundly complicated man who gave voice to what we thought we could not say..

Literary Collections

The Narrative Game: The Reading of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest as Play | Rainer Holl

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In 1996, David Foster Wallace published his second major novel 'Infinite Jest' that changed not only our understanding of what literature can do but, also the way we read literature. Despite its age, the book has not lost a single bit of its fascination, its actuality, and its academic appeal. With its hundreds of characters, thousands of pages, hundreds of endnotes and myriads of different perspectives, sub-plots, and narrative digressions, 'Infinite Jest' was, and still is, an extraordinary challenge for its readers as well as literary critics. One interesting question related to Wallace's work is to what extent readers are able to establish, and defend their own way of approaching literature, their natural reading habits, their personal boundaries, and their ‘readerly authority’ that are challenged by their discourse with the book. The author shows in how far the reader of 'Infinite Jest' has to get involved in this work of play, how it affects the way they read the book, and how the idiosyncratic reading experience finally becomes an integral part of the whole book itself..

Fiction

The Broom of the System | David Foster Wallace

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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..

Literary Collections

Both Flesh and Not | David Foster Wallace

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Brilliant, dazzling, never-before-collected nonfiction writings by "one of America's most daring and talented writers." (Los Angeles Times Book Review). Both Flesh and Not gathers fifteen of Wallace's seminal essays, all published in book form for the first time. Never has Wallace's seemingly endless curiosity been more evident than in this compilation of work spanning nearly 20 years of writing. Here, Wallace turns his critical eye with equal enthusiasm toward Roger Federer and Jorge Luis Borges; Terminator 2 and The Best of the Prose Poem; the nature of being a fiction writer and the quandary of defining the essay; the best underappreciated novels and the English language's most irksome misused words; and much more. Both Flesh and Not restores Wallace's essays as originally written, and it includes a selection from his personal vocabulary list, an assembly of unusual words and definitions..

History

Paradise Now | Chris Jennings

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For readers of Jill Lepore, Joseph J. Ellis, and Tony Horwitz comes a lively, thought-provoking intellectual history of the golden age of American utopianism—and the bold, revolutionary, and eccentric visions for the future put forward by five of history’s most influential utopian movements. In the wake of the Enlightenment and the onset of industrialism, a generation of dreamers took it upon themselves to confront the messiness and injustice of a rapidly changing world. To our eyes, the utopian communities that took root in America in the nineteenth century may seem ambitious to the point of delusion, but they attracted members willing to dedicate their lives to creating a new social order and to asking the bold question What should the future look like? In Paradise Now, Chris Jennings tells the story of five interrelated utopian movements, revealing their relevance both to their time and to our own. Here is Mother Ann Lee, the prophet of the Shakers, who grew up in newly industrialized Manchester, England—and would come to build a quiet but fierce religious tradition on the opposite side of the Atlantic. Even as the society she founded spread across the United States, the Welsh industrialist Robert Owen came to the Indiana frontier to build an egalitarian, rationalist utopia he called the New Moral World. A decade later, followers of the French visionary Charles Fourier blanketed America with colonies devoted to inaugurating a new millennium of pleasure and fraternity. Meanwhile, the French radical Étienne Cabet sailed to Texas with hopes of establishing a communist paradise dedicated to ideals that would be echoed in the next century. And in New York’s Oneida Community, a brilliant Vermonter named John Humphrey Noyes set about creating a new society in which the human spirit could finally be perfected in the image of God. Over time, these movements fell apart, and the national mood that had inspired them was drowned out by the dream of westward expansion and the waking nightmare of the Civil War. Their most galvanizing ideas, however, lived on, and their audacity has influenced countless political movements since. Their stories remain an inspiration for everyone who seeks to build a better world, for all who ask, What should the future look like? Praise for Paradise Now “Uncommonly smart and beautifully written . . . a triumph of scholarship and narration: five stand-alone community studies and a coherent, often spellbinding history of the United States during its tumultuous first half-century . . . Although never less than evenhanded, and sometimes deliciously wry, Jennings writes with obvious affection for his subjects. To read Paradise Now is to be dazzled, humbled and occasionally flabbergasted by the amount of energy and talent sacrificed at utopia’s altar.”—The New York Times Book Review “Writing an impartial, respectful account of these philanthropies and follies is no small task, but Mr. Jennings largely pulls it off with insight and aplomb. Indulgently sympathetic to the utopian impulse in general, he tells a good story. His explanations of the various reformist credos are patient, thought-provoking and . . . entertaining.”—The Wall Street Journal “As a tour guide, Jennings is thoughtful, engaging and witty in the right doses. . . . He makes the subject his own with fresh eyes and a crisp narrative, rich with detail. . . . In the end, Jennings writes, the communards’ disregard for the world as it exists sealed their fate. But in revisiting their stories, he makes a compelling case that our present-day ‘deficit of imagination’ could be similarly fated.”—San Francisco Chronicle.

Humor

A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again | David Foster Wallace

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In this exuberantly praised book - a collection of seven pieces on subjects ranging from television to tennis, from the Illinois State Fair to the films of David Lynch, from postmodern literary theory to the supposed fun of traveling aboard a Caribbean luxury cruiseliner - David Foster Wallace brings to nonfiction the same curiosity, hilarity, and exhilarating verbal facility that has delighted readers of his fiction, including the bestselling Infinite Jest..

Fiction

Oblivion | David Foster Wallace

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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..

Fiction

The Pale King | David Foster Wallace

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The agents at the IRS Regional Examination Center in Peoria, Illinois, appear ordinary enough to newly arrived trainee David Foster Wallace. But as he immerses himself in a routine so tedious and repetitive that new employees receive boredom-survival training, he learns of the extraordinary variety of personalities drawn to this strange calling. And he has arrived at a moment when forces within the IRS are plotting to eliminate even what little humanity and dignity the work still has. The Pale King remained unfinished at the time of David Foster Wallace's death, but it is a deeply compelling and satisfying novel, hilarious and fearless and as original as anything Wallace ever undertook. It grapples directly with ultimate questions--questions of life's meaning and of the value of work and society--through characters imagined with the interior force and generosity that were Wallace's unique gifts. Along the way it suggests a new idea of heroism and commands infinite respect for one of the most daring writers of our time..

Fiction

Girl With Curious Hair | David Foster Wallace

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Remarkable, hilarious, and unsettling re-imaginations of reality by "a dynamic writer of extraordinary talent" (New York Times Book Review). David Foster Wallace was one of America's most prodigiously talented and original young writers, and Girl with Curious Hair displays the full range of his gifts. From the eerily "real," almost holographic evocations of historical figures such as Lyndon Johnson and overtelevised game-show hosts and late-night comedians to the title story, in which terminal punk nihilism meets Young Republicanism, Wallace renders the incredible comprehensible, the bizarre normal, the absurd hilarious, the familiar strange..

Fiction

Brief Interviews with Hideous Men | David Foster Wallace

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In this thought-provoking and playful short story collection, David Foster Wallace nudges at the boundaries of fiction with inimitable wit and seductive intelligence. Wallace's stories present a world where the bizarre and the banal are interwoven and where hideous men appear in many guises. Among the stories are 'The Depressed Person,' a dazzling and blackly humorous portrayal of a woman's mental state; 'Adult World,' which reveals a woman's agonized consideration of her confusing sexual relationship with her husband; and 'Brief Interviews with Hideous Men,' a dark, hilarious series of imagined interviews with men on the subject of their relations with women. Wallace delights in leftfield observation, mining the absurd, the surprising, and the illuminating from every situation. This collection will enthrall DFW fans, and provides a perfect introduction for new readers..

Fiction

Night at the Fiestas: Stories | Kirstin Valdez Quade

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Winner of the 2015 National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Prize "[A] sparkling debut collection…features dreamers and schemers whose lives pulsate with wild hopes, hard luck, stunning secrets, and saving grace." —Elle With intensity and emotional precision, Kirstin Valdez Quade's unforgettable stories plunge us into the fierce, troubled hearts of characters defined by the desire to escape the past or else to plumb its depths. The deadbeat father of a pregnant teenager tries to transform his life by playing the role of Jesus in a bloody penitential Passion. A young man discovers that his estranged father and a boa constrictor have been squatting in his grandmother’s empty house. A lonely retiree new to Santa Fe becomes obsessed with her housekeeper. One girl attempts to uncover the mystery of her cousin's violent past, while another young woman finds herself at an impasse when she is asked to hear her priest's confession. Always hopeful, these stories chart the passions and obligations of family life, exploring themes of race, class, and coming-of-age, as Quade's characters protect, betray, wound, undermine, bolster, define, and, ultimately, save each other..

Biography & Autobiography

Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself | David Lipsky

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NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE, STARRING JASON SEGAL AND JESSE EISENBERG, DIRECTED BY JAMES PONSOLDT An indelible portrait of David Foster Wallace, by turns funny and inspiring, based on a five-day trip with award-winning writer David Lipsky during Wallace’s Infinite Jest tour In David Lipsky’s view, David Foster Wallace was the best young writer in America. Wallace’s pieces for Harper’s magazine in the ’90s were, according to Lipsky, “like hearing for the first time the brain voice of everybody I knew: Here was how we all talked, experienced, thought. It was like smelling the damp in the air, seeing the first flash from a storm a mile away. You knew something gigantic was coming.” Then Rolling Stone sent Lipsky to join Wallace on the last leg of his book tour for Infinite Jest, the novel that made him internationally famous. They lose to each other at chess. They get iced-in at an airport. They dash to Chicago to catch a make-up flight. They endure a terrible reader’s escort in Minneapolis. Wallace does a reading, a signing, an NPR appearance. Wallace gives in and imbibes titanic amounts of hotel television (what he calls an “orgy of spectation”). They fly back to Illinois, drive home, walk Wallace’s dogs. Amid these everyday events, Wallace tells Lipsky remarkable things—everything he can about his life, how he feels, what he thinks, what terrifies and fascinates and confounds him—in the writing voice Lipsky had come to love. Lipsky took notes, stopped envying him, and came to feel about him—that grateful, awake feeling—the same way he felt about Infinite Jest. Then Lipsky heads to the airport, and Wallace goes to a dance at a Baptist church. A biography in five days, Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself is David Foster Wallace as few experienced this great American writer. Told in his own words, here is Wallace’s own story, and his astonishing, humane, alert way of looking at the world; here are stories of being a young writer—of being young generally—trying to knit together your ideas of who you should be and who other people expect you to be, and of being young in March of 1996. And of what it was like to be with and—as he tells it—what it was like to become David Foster Wallace. "If you can think of times in your life that you’ve treated people with extraordinary decency and love, and pure uninterested concern, just because they were valuable as human beings. The ability to do that with ourselves. To treat ourselves the way we would treat a really good, precious friend. Or a tiny child of ours that we absolutely loved more than life itself. And I think it’s probably possible to achieve that. I think part of the job we’re here for is to learn how to do it. I know that sounds a little pious." —David Foster Wallace.

Literary Collections

Consider the Lobster | David Foster Wallace

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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 John McCain's 2000 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..

Self-Help

This Is Water | David Foster Wallace

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In this rare peak into the personal life of the author of numerous bestselling novels, gain an understanding of David Foster Wallace and how he became the man that he was. 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..

Literary Criticism

David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest | Stephen J. Burn

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Infinite Jest has been hailed as one the great modern American novels and its author, David Foster Wallace, who committed suicide in 2008, as one of the most influential and innovative authors of the past 20 years. Don DeLillo called Infinite Jest a "three-stage rocket to the future," a work "equal to the huge, babbling spin-out sweep of contemporary life," while Time Magazine included Infinite Jest on its list of 100 Greatest Novels published between 1923-2006. David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest: A Reader's Guide was the first book to be published on the novel and is a key reference for those who wish to explore further. Infinite Jest has become an exemplar for difficulty in contemporary Fiction-its 1,079 pages full of verbal invention, oblique narration, and a scattered, nonlinear, chronology. In this comprehensively revised second edition, Burn maps Wallace's influence on contemporary American fiction, outlines Wallace's poetics, and provides a full-length study of the novel, drawing out the most important themes and ideas, before surveying Wallace's post-Infinite Jest output, including The Pale King..

Music

Signifying Rappers | Mark Costello,David Foster Wallace

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Finally back in print--David Foster Wallace and Mark Costello's exuberant exploration of rap music and culture. Living together in Cambridge in 1989, David Foster Wallace and longtime friend Mark Costello discovered that they shared "an uncomfortable, somewhat furtive, and distinctively white enthusiasm for a certain music called rap/hip-hop." The book they wrote together, set against the legendary Boston music scene, mapped the bipolarities of rap and pop, rebellion and acceptance, glitz and gangsterdom. Signifying Rappers issued a fan's challenge to the giants of rock writing, Greil Marcus, Robert Palmer, and Lester Bangs: Could the new street beats of 1989 set us free, as rock had always promised? Back in print at last, Signifying Rappers is a rare record of a city and a summer by two great thinkers, writers, and friends. With a new foreword by Mark Costello on his experience writing with David Foster Wallace, this rerelease cannot be missed..

Poetry

Saving Daylight | Jim Harrison

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"Jim Harrison is a writer with immortality in him." --The Times (London).

History

War Plan Red | Kevin Lippert

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It's known as the world's friendliest border. Five thousand miles of unfenced, unwalled international coexistence and a symbol of neighborly goodwill between two great nations: the United States and Canada. But just how friendly is it really? In War Plan Red, the secret "cold war" between the United States and Canada is revealed in full and humorous detail. With colorful maps and historical imagery, the breezy text walks the reader through every aspect of the long-simmering rivalry—from the "Pork and Beans War" between Maine and Newfoundland lumberjacks, to the "Pig War" of the San Juan Islands, culminating with excerpts from actual declassified invasion plans the Canadian and U.S. militaries drew up in the 1920s and 1930s. A perfect gift for history buffs (and Canadians and Americans alike), War Plan Red offers up a new wrinkle in the ever-evolving history of North American continental relations..