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The Legacy of David Foster Wallace (New American Canon) [Paperback]

Samuel Cohen , Lee Konstantinou

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Book Description

15 Jun 2012 New American Canon

Considered by many to be the greatest writer of his generation, David Foster Wallace was at the height of his creative powers when he committed suicide in 2008. In a sweeping portrait of Wallace's writing and thought and as a measure of his importance in literary history, "The Legacy of David Foster Wallace "gathers cutting-edge, field-defining scholarship by critics alongside remembrances by many of his writer friends, who include some of the world's most influential authors.

In this elegant volume, literary critics scrutinize the existing Wallace scholarship and at the same time pioneer new ways of understanding Wallace's fiction and journalism. In critical essays exploring a variety of topics--including Wallace's relationship to American literary history, his place in literary journalism, his complicated relationship to his postmodernist predecessors, the formal difficulties of his 1996 magnum opus "Infinite Jest," his environmental imagination, and the "social life" of his fiction and nonfiction--contributors plumb sources as diverse as reader recommendations, professional book reviews, the 2009 "Infinite Summer" project, and the David Foster Wallace archive at the University of Texas's Harry Ransom Center.

The creative writers--including Don DeLillo, Jonathan Franzen, George Saunders, Rick Moody, Dave Eggers, and David Lipsky, and Wallace's Little, Brown editor, Michael Pietsch--reflect on the person behind the volumes of fiction and nonfiction created during the author's too-short life.

All of the essays, critical and creative alike, are written in an accessible style that does not presume any background in Wallace criticism. Whether the reader is an expert in all things David Foster Wallace, a casual fan of his fiction and nonfiction, or completely new to Wallace, "The Legacy of David Foster Wallace" will reveal the power and innovation that defined his contribution to literary life and to self-understanding. This illuminating volume is destined to shape our understanding of Wallace, his writing, and his place in history.

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""The Legacy of David Foster Wallace" is a necessary book--it will find a place in virtually every university and college library across the land. Surely it will be among the first critical works consulted by any scholar or student venturing into the work of Wallace and will interest the more ordinary, if unusually ambitious, reader as well."--Mark McGurl, author, "The Program Era""

About the Author

Samuel Cohen is an associate professor and the director of graduate studies in the University of Missouri's Department of English. He is author of the Choice Outstanding Academic selection "After the End of History: American Fiction in the 1990s" (Iowa, 2009) and author of two textbooks, "50 Essays: A Portable Anthology" and "Literature: The Human Experience" (with Richard Abcarian and Marvin Klotz). He is currently at work on a book project, "What Comes Next: Recent American Fiction and the Question of Canon Formation." Lee Konstantinou is an ACLS New Faculty Fellow in the English Department at Princeton University. He has published a novel, "Pop Apocalypse: A Possible Satire," and he is completing a literary history of irony after World War II. His writing has appeared in the" Believer," "boundary 2," "io9," and the" Los Angeles Review of Books."

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.8 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a good beginning to what will surely be a long conversation 30 Mar 2013
By J. Castillo - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
not all of the essays were good. there were a couple whose insights were nowhere near worth the trouble of wading through the academic language the authors use. but most of the essays have interesting things to say, and the eulogies that divide up the book are beautiful. the one by george saunders is especially good. if you're a wallace-head, this will be an enjoyable book.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For Wallace's Strongest Fans 2 Dec 2012
By Stephen - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The target for this book is primarily scholars, but it also offers much to those like me who simply love Wallace's work. As sometimes happens with scholarly analyses, the prose in some of the essays is turgid, with some jargon. But one can work through that and find great insights and ideas. Highly recommended!
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For the Many Followers of David Foster Wallace's Work and Brief Life 2 Jan 2013
By Suzanne Mcnear - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Anyone interested in David Foster Wallace's work should read Samuel Coen's thoughtful look at Wallace's life.The picture presented here is critical in the best sense, compassionate, informative, heartbreaking. Cohen gives one a fuller picture of Wallace that many of us, devoted followers of his work, may or may not have had. We see his long struggle with mental illness, his early years, his college years, his development as a writer, his friendships, his dedication to his students, his generosity of spirit, and his work, always the work, the work. . . With Wallace there is so much more one would like to know, the absurd desire to speak to him that accompanies out sense of loss. And so this consideration of his legacy is a treasure to be placed beside The Pale King, our last amazing gift from the writer himself.
4 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful 23 Aug 2012
By Eric Chamberlain - Published on
The collection offers insight into the man and his most important work. Consider it essential reading for all true Wallace fans.
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