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Quack This Way: David Foster Wallace & Bryan A. Garner Talk Language and Writing [Paperback]

Bryan Garner , David Foster Wallace , L.W. Montgomery

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Book Description

25 Oct 2013
David Foster Wallace was at the center of late-20th-century American literature, Bryan A. Garner at that of legal scholarship and lexicography. It was language that drew them together. The wide-ranging interview reproduced here memorializes 67 minutes of their second and final evening together, in February 2006. It was DFW’s last long interview, and the only one devoted exclusively to language and writing.

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About the Author

It was an accidental friendship if ever there was one. David Foster Wallace was at the center of late-20thcentury American literature, Bryan A. Garner at that of legal scholarship and lexicography. It was language that drew them together, and it was DFW who reached out to BAG. It was DFW who penned “Authority and American Usage,” the encomium to Garner’s dictionary of American usage. The 95- page essay appeared first in Harper’s in abridged form and in its full-length version in Consider the Lobster. It was an auspicious beginning for their friendship. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  10 reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful Wisdom from One of Modern History's Best Writers 26 Oct 2013
By Bruce Keener - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I am a DF Wallace-alholic, so any book that promulgates David's wisdom is, to me, a must-read. This is a must-read.

Setting that aside, though, I would also consider this a must-read for anyone who wants to be an impactful writer. Dave's insights on what makes for effective writing are based on many years of his writing novels and nonfiction pieces that opened our minds in new ways, made us laugh, made is think, and sometimes scared us stiff. His key insight is one you have probably heard from him before: write for the reader and respect who you are writing for. Even though I had heard these chunks of wisdom from him before, it is still worth the price of the book to have them packed into the transcript of an interview in which the interviewer is none other than Bryan Garner. Bryan asked Great questions. David provided Superb answers.

This is a quick read, so quick that you could, as I did, initially conclude that this has the highest cost per word of any book you've ever purchased. The type is fairly big (not uncomfortably so) and the transcript format is such that the text on a typical page takes up not much more than half the page. When I first thought about this, I thought, Well, Garner *is* a lawyer, after all. But then I decided who cares? I got everything out of the book I could hope for AND Garner is giving all the proceeds from the book to The Harry Ranson Center, which houses the DFW library. So now, after thinking it through, my purchase was an investment, not a cost. (Also, Garner is very big on selecting a typography that is reader-friendly, and it turns out that a relatively large text with relatively narrow content field is the best typography.)

Great book. Many thanks to Bryan Garner for putting it together.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A quick read I am sure to come back to again 4 Nov 2013
By Jacob A. Walker - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a transcript of an interview between Bryan Garner and David Foster Wallace. The original interview lasted less than 90 minutes, and won't take you as long to read. But I've just completed my first read, and I've highlighted so many nuggets that I am certain I will want to go back and re-read this a few more times. The conversation between Garner and Wallace is riveting - revealing as much about Wallace's thoughts on writing as it does his own peculiar personality.

One of many gems I enjoyed: After commenting about how he used to laugh with his mother about the ridiculousness of the phrase "Save up to 50% and more!" in a local advertisement, Wallace notes that it is "possible that [the phrase] has been shown statistically to increase your ability to memorize the 50%. The point is not that this is okay. I think it's damaging to the language as a beautiful thing, and to interhuman communication, but I've stopped thinking that it's just idiots who weren't paying attention in eighth grade and don't know how to do this stuff."

I am grateful that Garner has provided us with this wonderful interview. Complete with its heartfelt introduction, it is a great addition to Wallace's legacy. One can only hope Garner takes Wallace up on his suggestion to write Garner's Dictionary of Dialectal English Usage: "[A]dvertising English, bureaucratic English, corporate English, hipster English . . . because I will bet that just trying to figure out some of the codes and motives behind them would just be fascinating." If he does, there is no doubt about the book's dedication.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a great, and mind you, short read on language usage 24 Jan 2014
By DFWQ - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Made me think a fair bit about how I write and speak. Additionally, when dfw was talking about synonyms, I began to worry about my slippery memory, and how I would feel when my vocabulary begins to thin. He is articulate enough in everyday conversation, that it made me wonder why I even bother to write. An existential crisis worth the five stars.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A provocative exchange on language and The Writing Life 20 Dec 2013
By Legal Writing Pro - Published on Amazon.com
Extended interviews often feel stilted on the page, but this one is anything but. Garner asks all the right questions, and DFW's personality and passion both shine through. You can sense that DFW was a superb professor and not just a word fiend and one of the great modern American novelists. If you're looking for clues about DFW's depression and eventual suicide, you may be disappointed, but if you enjoy intelligent exchanges about the language wars or novel-writing, you will love this interview.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you love language, usage, or writing, read this. 1 April 2014
By Carter A. Edman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A fascinating conversation between two people who know language better than almost anyone. So much insight packed into such a short book.
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