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Conversations with David Foster Wallace (Literary Conversations) [Paperback]

Stephen J. Burn

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Book Description

1 Jun 2012 Literary Conversations
Across two decades of intense creativity, David Foster Wallace (1962-2008) crafted a remarkable body of work that ranged from unclassifiable essays to a book about transfinite mathematics to vertiginous fictions. In essay volumes (A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, Consider the Lobster), short story collections (Girl with Curious Hair, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, Oblivion), and his novels (Infinite Jest, The Broom of the System), the luminous qualities of Wallace's work recalibrated our measures of modern literary achievement. Conversations with David Foster Wallace gathers over twenty interviews and profiles that trace the arc of Wallace's career. Jonathan Franzen has argued that, for Wallace, an interview provided a formal enclosure in which the writer "could safely draw on his enormous native store of kindness and wisdom and expertise." Wallace's interviews create a wormhole in which an author's private theorizing about art spills into the public record. His best interviews are vital extra-literary documents in which we catch him thinking aloud about irony's magnetic hold on contemporary language, the pale last days of postmodernism, and the delicate exchange that exists between reader and writer. At the same time, his acute focus moves across MFA programs, his negotiations with religious belief, the role of footnotes in his writing, and his multifaceted conception of his work's architecture. Conversations with David Foster Wallace includes a previously unpublished interview from 2005 and a version of Larry McCaffery's Review of Contemporary Fiction interview with Wallace that has been expanded with new material drawn from the original raw transcript. Stephen J. Burn, Marquette, Michigan, is associate professor of modern and contemporary literature at Northern Michigan University in Marquette. He is the author of Jonathan Franzen at the End of Postmodernism; Intersections: Essays on Richard Powers; and David Foster Wallace's "Infinite Jest": A Reader's Guide.

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Conversations with David Foster Wallace (Literary Conversations) + Both Flesh And Not + Every Love Story is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace
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Product details

  • Paperback: 210 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Mississippi (1 Jun 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1617032271
  • ISBN-13: 978-1617032271
  • Product Dimensions: 22.6 x 15 x 1.5 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 262,168 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Stephen J. Burn is associate professor of modern and contemporary literature ay Northern Michigan University.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars  14 reviews
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nice Compilation of Interviews 2 April 2012
By Ronald Smith - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I had previously read Lipsky's DFW book and thought that gave me plenty of insight into DFW. I was wrong.

Mr Burn does a wonderful job with this compilation of interviews of DFW. They are in chronological order so you can somewhat see his thoughts evolve.

Before I bought this book, one night my wife and I played the "who would you invite to dinner?" game. Of course I said DFW. This book made him come alive as if he was talking to me. His insights and ways of thinking were phenomenal. And what a sense of humor! Several of his lines would be great titles for short stories. In fact, I plan on using one of them.

What his sister said about imagining DFW before the fateful moment will stick with me and my two dogs forever

For me, there are four people that left this life too soon: John Lennon, Kurt Cobain, Freddie Mercury and David Foster Wallace. I miss all of you!
22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought Food 19 April 2012
By Steven753 - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I'm unsure why the hardcover edition is so fantastically expensive; this book must have seen a very narrow printing. Buy the paperback.
Despite the $ though, this is a nice little addition to the slip stream of Wallace Studies slowly growing since '09. DFW could talk. The conversations in here are lucid, on point, honest, and laden with an urgency rarely found in authorial chats. Plus it's nice to have all of the important interviews and talks bound in a single volume.
But mostly this book is bittersweet. It helps us understand the individual better, but mostly adds to the Cult of Personality surrounding him post-mortem. I imagine this collection will become another valued citation at the end of theses about Infinite Jest or The Pale King. There seems like a lot of critical stuff on Wallace out there right now that tries to link his personal and interview material to explications of his fiction, as if somehow Wallace was the sole carrier of his works' meaning and import.
Still, it's interesting to read what he had to say about lit theory and reading culture in America. There are little details throughout that offer up some good thought food (e.g. it's written that Wallace was raised an atheist, which flies in the face of his emphasis on personal religious moorings in IJ and TPK). But in the end it all starts to feel a little like desperation on the reader's side. Another volume to help us understand Him, but if I'm not mistaken we enjoy Wallace because of his fiction and essays, and that's exactly where the focus ought to remain.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interviews are always good. 15 Jun 2012
By W. Sinclair - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I have read nearly almost everything David Foster Wallace has published. If you enjoy DFW, then I suggest you read this collection and the David Lipsky book. David Lipsky shows you DFW the person, but this book shows you his ideas about what fiction is or should be. A great read and a necessity for DFW fans. Well worth the money. What you don't learn from Lipsky you will find here.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wallace is one of the bigger writers of the last years. 23 Aug 2012
By Edoardo Angeloni - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It's no very easy to talk about the significate of the Wallace work and about his role in the actual literature.
This book has the form of dialogues, but the importance of those interviews is related to particular aspects of the Wallace intelligence.
There are many possible keys of lecture whom can be read here, but I prefer to select only some characteristics.
One is the particular attention for the mathematics, which is utilized as model but also as reference.
Therefore we can remember the interesting role of Wallace into the movement of Post-modern,as we can find in the pages of the author.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Insight into Wallace 29 May 2013
By FattyMcFatters - Published on
The other reviews on this book have already captured its essence. I'm just appending my own 5-star rating in agreement with them. This collection is superb - only one or two of the essays/interviews were dry. The last sentence had me crying for a good half-hour. Highly recommended.
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