4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Wallace's Second Team,
Amazon Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Both Flesh & Not (Paperback)
Perhaps the most striking fact about David Foster Wallace (1962-2008), apart from his stratospheric intelligence, was the range of his interests. How many writers capable of writing a history of the mathematics of infinity would also find it worthwhile to produce an 160 page work on rap music? Who else with the ability to provide a summary of Wittgenstein's private language argument could also analyse the market for hardcore pornography?
During his lifetime, Wallace published two collections of essays, A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again (1997) and Consider The Lobster (2005). It is difficult to convey the flavour of these books, but if you wanted a preview I'd suggest having a look at one of the videos of the author reading his work on YouTube (for example, the 28 minute video 'Another Random Bit'.)
Wallace was certainly an uneven writer, and some of his work is infected by the pretentious diction of Academic English. Nor was he a particularly successful critic: his least interesting essays are those dealing with other writers.
But his best work (for example, the pieces on the Illinois State Fair and cruise liners in A Supposedly Fun Thing) is truly remarkable, as good as anything that Orwell wrote.
Both Flesh and Not (2012) collects fifteen essays which appeared in various American periodicals between 1988 and 2007. The range of topics is characteristically diverse - tennis, fiction, cinema, Wittgenstein, mathematics - although the average standard is perhaps lower than in the first two collections. In a sense, this is not surprising: the essays in Both Flesh and Not are (for the most part) those that were not selected for inclusion in the earlier collections. As such, they are, in a sense, the Second Team.
Still, they are well worth reading. Wallace is one of the few recent writers of whom one seriously wonders if he was a genius.