Bret Easton Ellis’ Vendetta Against David Foster Wallace, Explained

If you follow the book publishing news cycle, which seems to make a story out of Bret Easton Ellis’ every tweet-storm, then you’ve probably read about the author’s recent fulmination against David Foster Wallace. But in case you missed it, here’s a delightful sample: “DFW is the best example of a contemporary male writer lusting for a kind of awful greatness that he simply wasn’t able to achieve. A fraud.” So, what brought that on? While Ellis doesn’t always need a personal reason to lash out, it turns out that in this case, he may well have had one.

Salon has published a piece by Gerald Howard, an editor who worked with both men, that explains the vendetta. According to him, the title story from Wallace’s Girl With Curious Hair was “an obvious and expert parody of Bret Ellis’ affectless tone and subject matter,” although its famously cagey author denied it when Howard confronted him. The editor feels sure that Ellis was aware of the swipe. “At the moment, the Wallace style is dominant and that is what drives Bret Ellis nuts,” Howard concludes. Especially if you’re the type to relish literary rivalries, you’ll want to visit Salon and read the entire account.