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Consider The Lobster: Essays and Arguments Paperback – 1 Dec 2005


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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus (1 Dec. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349119511
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349119519
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,743,398 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

David Foster Wallace wrote the acclaimed novels Infinite Jest and The Broom of the System and the story collections Oblivion, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, and Girl With Curious Hair. His nonfiction includes the essay collections Consider the Lobster and A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, and the full-length work Everything and More. He died in 2008.

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Review

He is eloquent, scathing, precise and very funny (INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY)

Wallace's voice comes zinging off the page, reinforcing the school of thought that says he's some type of maybe-genius doing something they haven't invented a word for yet (SUNDAY TELEGRAPH)

A writer of virtuostic talents who can seemingly do anything (NEW YORK TIMES)

Wallace is a superb comedian of culture . . . his exuberance and intellectual impishness are a delight (James Woods, GUARDIAN)

Book Description

A brilliant and hilarious new collection of essays from the award-winning author of the bestseller INFINITE JEST.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Jon Vollestad on 14 Feb. 2006
Format: Paperback
I love Wallace's novels and short stories, but in my opinion his intellect sometimes impedes his storytelling. I like my books smart, but Wallace's footnotes and in-jokes and surely-you-all-know-this-as-well-as-I-do type en passant references can be a bit over the cerebral top. But what can be annoying in fiction, works far better in the essay format. His quirky and brainy and alienated reporter persona seems to me a perfect position from which to comment on the current state of affairs in such diverse spheres as porn, literature, US language, electoral campaigns, lobster festivals and conservative talk radio. His hyper-reflexive analyses are wonderfully mind-bending, his command of language supreme, and his uneasy embeddedness in real-world situations both touching and very very funny. Wallace at his essayistic best rewires your synapses and vastly expands your neural nets. You should definitely go for it.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A. Ross TOP 500 REVIEWER on 4 Nov. 2006
Format: Paperback
I've never read Wallace, mostly because his best known work ("Infinite Jest") is so long. But I tend to like writers that digress and use footnotes for asides, so I thought maybe this collection of ten essays would give me enough of a taste to know if I should check out his other stuff. Ranging in length from 7 to 80 pages, the essays all appeared previously (albeit often truncated) in various magazines such as Harper's, The Atlantic, Gourmet, Rolling Stone, Premier, etc. They can be roughly categorized into three categories: brief review, personal piece, and long in-depth topical examination.

The brief reviews generally tend to take an item and use it as a staging area for discussing something more interesting than the given subject. For example, in "Certainly the End of Something or Other", Wallace uses his review of John Updike's novel Toward the End of Time to highlight the general narcissism and shallowness of writers such as Updike, Philip Roth, and Norman Mailer. His 20-page review of Joseph Frank's biography of Dostoevsky is largely dedicated to making a larger point about literary criticism, and his 25-page review of tennis player Tracy Austin's autobiography is similarly dedicated to identifying the fundamental problem of sports memoirs. I have to admit that the essential point of the shortest piece, "Some Remarks on Kafka's Funniness", eluded me.

The two more personal pieces are strikingly different, but in each one gets a vivid impression of Wallace working through his own feelings. In, "The View From Mrs. Thompson's", he uses 13 pages to recount his own September 11 experience in Bloomington, Indiana.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By I K CREASEY on 31 July 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If you are thinking of buying the Kindle edition there are two things you should know:

1) The essay "Host" is not included in electronic editions of the book, although it is included in physical editions.

2) David Foster Wallace's style includes extensive use of footnotes, and on older Kindles it's somewhat fiddly to navigate to footnotes and back.

For these reasons, this particular book is probably best read in hard copy.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Leyla Sanai on 14 Dec. 2007
Format: Paperback
I finished Consider The Lobster by the US writer David Foster Wallace a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately, it's now back at the library, so I can't refer to it when writing this, but I wanted to sing the praises of DFW a little. OK, a lot.

DFW first came to my attention when his epic novel Infinite Jest was published in 1996. I was blown away by the irreverence and wit of this author; the way he wore his attitude on his sleeve like a young Martin Amis. To my shame, a demanding job meant I put the book aside because I couldn't give it the attention it deserved, but I'm going to tackle it again sometime when my arm muscles are strong.(The paperback edition runs to 1080 pages of teeny tiny type.)

Subsequently, I forgot about him for a few years. Then, a couple of years ago,I borrowed Brief Interviews With Hideous Men from the library. This is one of DFW's collections of short stories, and I highly recommend it. He brings to life several ghastly characters who will make you laugh and cringe simultaneously.

One attribute of DFW's that I find unique to him is that he makes an art form of being long winded. He is a master of the footnote, and often, there's a footnote on every page in his work, with the footnote being as long as the page. Yet he is never tedious to read - on the contrary, he is refreshingly easy to consume, partly due to his dazzling ability to write and partly because there's something endearing about the way he has to explain every little point. The latter attribute means that he leads off on tangents the whole time, and the tangents have tangents too. (I'm not joking - sometimes the footnotes have footnotes). But he is definitely worth discovering.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Eileen Shaw TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 11 Sept. 2009
Format: Paperback
Erudite, prolix, exhaustive and entertaining, David Foster Wallace bends his impressive intellect to some vagaries of American life in this delightful, but demanding, book. I would not recommend it to anyone who wants a quick read, or anyone not prepared to think hard while reading.

Foster Wallace is addicted to footnotes and in the last piece in this book he tries another method of interjection with arrows to squares dotted around the text, which I found exhausting to read in a peculiar and resigned-chuckle-inducing manner. Some people will throw the book across the room at this point. However, what he has to say, regardless of his sometimes irritating textual tricks, is always, always interesting. He is formidably loquacious, forbiddingly clever and also damned smart with the sort of wit that creeps up and stabs you in the back. He is an enfant terrible, albeit one who teaches English to undergraduates. He is also a deeply original thinker and an absolute delight.

In this book he discourses upon: the `soft-core' porn industry in America; why Kafka is funny; the usage and abusage of American English (perhaps the most fascinating essay I have ever read (yes, really!)); watching 9/11 unfold on a neighbour-lady's television; the pallidity of sports biographies; following John McCain on the hustings; whether or not lobsters can feel pain (they can); Joseph Frank's books about Dosteovksy; and a radio shock-jock's late-night phone-in programme.

Personally I feel my life is the poorer for not having a huge anthology of Foster Wallace's essays to hand to be able to read whenever I want to feel cheered and hopeful for the human race. However, he is not an easy read. You need to want this kind of discourse in your life. You need to enjoy a voice in your ear saying, nothing is easy, nothing is simple, and there is very little about life that doesn't deserve much deeper consideration than it is ordinarily given.
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