DFW remembered at Slate, by me and others: plus, juvenilia

Slate has posted a series of short essays on David Foster Wallace, including mine, in which I write about the debt DFW’s language owes to his background in mathematics.

Also, courtesy of wallace-l, what might be Wallace’s first published story, scanned from a 1984 issue of an undergrad literary magazine at Amherst: “The Planet Trillaphon As It Stands in Relation to the Bad Thing.” The style is recognizably an underdeveloped version of Wallace’s; what’s surprising me here is the strong taste of Salinger in sentences like “a hospital to which I was sent ever so briefly following a really highly ridiculous incident involving electrical appliances in the bathtub about which I really don’t wish to say a whole lot.” As far as I can recall there’s not a particle of Salingeriness in DFW’s entire body of adult work.

wallace-amherst_review-the_planet (.pdf file)

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3 thoughts on “DFW remembered at Slate, by me and others: plus, juvenilia

  1. Dave says:

    I think, at least by Onion standards, that this counts as a tasteful tribute: http://www.theonion.com/content/news/nascar_cancels_remainder_of_season

    I bet a large percentage of the writers there are admirers of his work.

  2. Em says:

    I loved what you wrote. The difference between math and writing is that with writing there never is one answer, so the doubts can plague you forever.

  3. No Salinger, really? I’ve always thought the footnotes in Seymour were the antecedent to DFW’s. And his Kenyon speech is largely a reworking of Zooey imitating Buddy on the phone with Franny at the end of Zooey–no? I mean, he does the ‘Fat Lady is Jesus’ thing almost verbatim.

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