David Foster Wallace

30 Writers’ Invaluable Advice to Graduates

Graduation season is fast approaching, the time of the year when some of our favorite writers are tasked with summing up the wisdom to be accrued from the process of growing up in ten succinct minutes of witty truth. These days, a successful graduation speech has the very real chance of going viral, and then living forever as a book: from David Foster Wallace’s This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, About Living a Compassionate Life to Neil Gaiman’s Make Good Art, the best graduation speeches are finding a new life. This crop includes the brand-new Congratulations, By the Way: Some Thoughts on Kindness by George Saunders, a pretty-in-print encapsulation of his 2013 Syracuse Graduation speech. It’s reason enough to collect 30 of the best, wisest, and pithiest pieces of advice from the greatest writers to attempt the graduation… Read More

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Flavorwire Interview: The Hold Steady’s Craig Finn on Writing for Middle-Aged Bros, Slogging Through ‘Infinite Jest,’ and the ‘Fargo Rock City’ Movie

There are few bands left quite like the Hold Steady, and even fewer frontmen like Craig Finn. He’s the Hemingway of modern indie rock bros, known for his quick turns of phrase and his drawn-out tales about nights that are hard to remember (and the substances that fueled them). At 42 and with six Hold Steady albums under his belt, these days Finn comes across more as the Springsteen everyman when it comes to chronicling a distinctly American life. This week, as the Hold Steady release Teeth Dreams, we spoke to Finn, discussing writing about troubled women for large crowds of rowdy men, what he wish he’d known about tour buses when he was young, how long it took him to read Infinite Jest, his favorite rock bios and new albums, and what’s going on (or rather, what’s not going on) with his screenplay adaptation of Chuck Klosterman’s Fargo Rock City. … Read More

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What Would Plato and David Foster Wallace Talk About? A Conversation With Rebecca Newberger Goldstein

In Rebecca Newberger Goldstein’s Plato at the Googleplex: Why Philosophy Won’t Go Away, Plato comes screaming into the 21st century. What Goldstein does in this college course of a book is quite audacious and charmingly goofy; she imagines what it would be like if Plato were on a book tour, today, in our modern world — and it would be quite a journey: sparring with fake Tiger Moms at the 92nd St. Y, fake Bill O’Reillys on Fox News, and giving out agony aunt advice to the lovelorn. … Read More

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Listen to 15 Literary Icons Reading Their Own Work

One of the most important experiences you can have with your favorite author is to hear them read aloud from their works. But many of us will never get the chance to see our most beloved writer in the flesh. So, after the jump is a collection of 15 writers — some alive, some long gone — reading their own words (all fiction, with the exception of William Faulkner, whose Nobel Prize speech is included because it’s now often taught alongside his novels and stories, and Joan Didion’s memoir, The Year of Magical Thinking).  … Read More

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Toni Morrison, Wallace Stegner, and 10 Other Fiction Writing Teachers

The discussion on whether or not it’s any help to give a university your money, or funds you don’t have that you end up borrowing, so you can sharpen your skills as a writer will no doubt be reignited in the coming days and weeks with the release of the book MFA vs NYC: The Two Cultures of American Fiction. In truth, it’s a discussion that was going on long before the publication of the book, and one that will probably continue for years after the book comes out. Yet the one thing that is difficult to look past is how much studying with a teacher whose books or articles you respect can actually be a boost to your own work. … Read More

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50 Novels Guaranteed to Make You a Better Person

It’s a new year, and resolutions are flying left and right. Here’s one that’s always on everyone’s mind, beginning of the year or no: how to be a better person. Well, since science keeps proving that reading literary fiction accomplishes that very fact, why not attack a novel in order to spruce up your heart and mind? Click through for 50 novels to make you kinder, cleverer, more productive, and a whole lot more open to the experience of… Read More

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Literary Snobs: A Ranked Taxonomy

2013 is going out with a bang of literary snobbishness. The latest round comes via John Gallagher at The New Republic, railing against “Hollywood DFW” and the “terrible, terrible idea” of Jason Segel portraying the late David Foster Wallace in a film adaptation of David Lipsky’s Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself. He just can’t imagine such a thing as Saint Wallace being portrayed on screen, especially by an actor mostly known for his comedic roles. How dare they get an funnyman to commit this act of literary sacrilege! Exposing people to Wallace’s work who might have otherwise never known about it? Seriously, just who do they think they are? … Read More

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What Would It Take to Make Jason Segel an Acceptable David Foster Wallace?

As The Awl pointed out, Twitter had a mini-explosion today when the news broke that Jason Segel will be playing David Foster Wallace opposite Jesse Eisenberg’s David Lipsky in a movie version of Lipsky’s Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip With David Foster Wallace. The reasons cited for the freakout tend to vary: some think that a guy who starred in and wrote the Muppets’ latest film doesn’t have any business playing the Infinite Jest author (we call those people snobs); others fall into the “They don’t really look anything alike” camp; and then there are those who would throw up their hands and shriek “Too soon!” in response to a film coming out about an author whose suicide is still very fresh in our minds. … Read More

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