Monday, December 28, 2009

CONSIDER THE LOBSTER by David Foster Wallace

Color me surprised. After more than a decade of being disappointed by the works of David Foster Wallace, I've finally discovered one that I can, more or less enthusiastically, recommend. The quality of the nonfiction pieces collected in Consider the Lobster, along with those in his earlier collection A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, suggests that Wallace should probably have jettisoned his baggy and rather unoriginal fictional experiments in favor of the kind of original journalism and criticism exemplified here. In these occasional pieces (on the 'adult' film industry and its euphemisms; John Updike (whose name sounds like an adult film industry euphemism); dictionaries; Joseph Frank's monumental Dostoyevsky biography; the 2000 McCain campaign, etc.) Wallace was finally able to bring his prose up to the level of his thought--a considerable achievement, given that his previous works all left me with the impression of a guy who thinks better than he writes. Damned if I'm not starting to miss the dude now. He should've lived longer and written more.

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