After having DFW on my TBR for ages, I finally got my hands on a copy but sadly I DNF and I ask myself;WTF?
But seriously; David Foster Wallace is one of those writers that is surrounded by an aura of intellect and profoundness. People talk about reading him like it’s a conquest. Well people speak about Proust the same way, like it’s major achievement and that those that manage it are better people. Not so; we who have read Proust know that he isn’t that difficult, in fact very funny, and as life changing as it can be it doesn’t really make us morally superior, and I will never act like it does. In fact I’ve gone on and on, here,there and everywhere, about how Proust really is a jolly good fellow who isn’t difficult to read at all; he just has a different idea of how long a sentence should be( he was French; what do you expect?). But I digress, this was supposed to be about DFW and my failure to finish.
So simply put; I don’t fear Wallace, and I still don’t, because I’m not a complete idiot and he wasn’t the most intelligent man to ever walk the earth( which is either Stephan Hawking, who doesn’t actually walk but has a wheelchair, or whoever started putting sea salt in chocolate. Genius pure and simple). Point is I should be able to make sense of DFW. And I do. I’ve concluded that I started in the wrong end however.
The problem for me with this collection of essays, of which I read about half before I needed to return it to the library, was that so many of the didn’t feel relevant here and now. I will absolutely advocate reading his essays but maybe start with something else, or buy this book and read it very slowly.
The titel essay, about taking a cruise, was fun. And an essay about consumption of popular culture felt poignant. A fair few of his essays are published online but reading “Consider the lobster” on screen when so much happens in the footnotes for which I have to scroll cirka 8 years is insufferable. He loves footnotes, I love footnotes. But they don’t translate well to the online-format (hence my over use of parenthesis,”also” and semi-colons). But again that wasn’t the story her (although it is very much in the meandering vein of Wallace.)
Another dilemma I’m faced with is the scarcity of DFW at Stockholm libraries; he is in the catalogue but noted as “missing”. His books have probably been stolen, or read to they fell apart and no new copies have been bought. In addition, and I hate to admit this, maybe this is at the outer limits of my english, also because it’s american admittedly. I attempted Pynchon in english once; failed. I get more out of it in translation.
So the moral of the story is this; Wallace ins’t an enigma of a writer wrapped in a conundrum. Well worth reading but you might consider doing so in your native tongue.
Things mentioned in this post;
DFW=David Foster Wallace
DNF=did not finish
TBR= To be read
WTF= what the f&/k