David Foster Wallace

50 Books to Cure Heartbreak

Heartbroken? Left alone? Depressed? And right before the holidays? Never fear, because this is no end-of-year list — it’s a list to cure that broken heart of yours. Now, there are as many ways to mend a broken heart as there are to break one, but hopefully this list will contain something for everyone, whether you prefer to muffle pain with laughter, or might take some hope in a happy ending, or just need to wallow. After all, as James Baldwin said, “You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.” So here you go, gang: 50 cures for love, all $25 or less. … Read More

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10 Literary Holiday Gifts for 2014

Thesauruses, usage guides, high-proof alcohol: there is no shortage of useful literary gifts for 2014, whether they’re as expensive as the rarest book or as cheap as a pencil. With this in mind, we’ve pulled together ten of the best possible goods for your literary or writerly or editorially-inclined loved ones, because book culture doesn’t have to end at the book and begin with book fetishism. Sometimes literary culture can begin with a book in a tiny sweater. … Read More

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50 Novels Featuring Famous Authors as Characters

With not one, but two novels featuring Jane Austen, one featuring the ghost of Dorothy Parker, and a third about Virginia Woolf and her sister hitting shelves soon, it seemed like a good time to survey the entire “writer-as-character” category of novels. Who are the most popular fictionalized writers? It’s no surprise to see a ton of Shakespeares, Dickenses, and Brontës scampering with pens through the pages of other peoples’ novels. But a graphic-novel Susan Sontag? Cranky Robert Frost? Witty Alexander Pope? These are some of the delights we uncovered for your reading… Read More

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Longform You Have to Read: The Truth About David Lynch and ‘Twin Peaks’

In a world where you have more options for satisfying longform reading than ever, your friends here at Flavorwire are taking the time once a week to highlight some of the best that journalism and longform has to offer. Whether they’re unified by topic, publication, writer, being classic pieces of work, or just by a general feeling, these articles all have one thing in common: they’re essential reading. This week, we’re going to get Lynchian. … Read More

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‘Infinite Jest,’ Recreated in Lego by an 11-Year-Old

This might be the best thing you’ll see on the internet all day. Earlier this year, English professor Kevin Griffith and his 11-year-old son Sebastian started Brickjest, a project in which they aimed to “translate” David Foster Wallace’s postmodernist classic Infinite Jest into Lego form. The final product has some 100 images, each of Lego scenes created by Sebastian based on his father’s descriptions. According to their website, the pair “first envisioned translating David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest into Lego after reading The Brick Bible, by Brendan Powell Smith. Wallace’s novel is probably the only contemporary text to offer a similar challenge to artists working in the medium of Lego.” Well, they certainly met the challenge. After the jump, check out a few of the best scenes, and then head on over to Brickjest to see the whole project. … Read More

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50 Essays Guaranteed to Make You a Better Person

It’s hard to be a person in the world today — or, really, any day, but today’s what we’ve got. Humans are striving creatures, and also empathetic ones, so most of us are always looking for an opportunity to improve ourselves, even in tiny, literary ways. We’ve already established that novels can make you a better person, but of course, novels also take you down a long winding road to get there. If you’re looking for a more direct shot to the heart, try an essay. After the jump, you’ll find 50 essays more or less guaranteed to make you a better person — or at least a better-read one — some recommended by notables of the literary and literary nonfiction world, some recommended by yours truly, incessant consumer of the written word. Don’t see the essay that changed your life? Please do add it to the list. … Read More

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As Film and TV Steal Its Narrative Thunder, Literature Has to Do What Only Literature Can Do

This morning at The Guardian, Thomas McMullan wrote about how “challenging writing” is growing in popularity, at least if the prizes being awarded to experimental novels — like Eimar McBride’s debut novel A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing — are any indication. This, obviously, is heartening news for anyone who bemoans the general dumbing-down of so much pop culture, or just anyone who loves weird, difficult writing and wants to read more of it. … Read More

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25 Great Pieces of Life Advice From Literature

Everyone could use a bit of advice now and then. But what if you’re the type who eschews all human contact and prefers to converse only with characters in your books? Well, er, then even they might not be able to help you. All kidding aside, as any avid reader will know, many of the great works of literature are filled with wisdom, which you could do worse than to take to heart — especially in these back-to-school weeks, a time when a little extra advice can always help. Here, you’ll find a few nuggets of humanhood as doled out by literary (read: fictional!) characters who know a thing or… Read More

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50 Great Books You’ll Never Read in School

Back-to-school time is upon us, and for many, that means reading for pleasure will give way to burning through that syllabus. Classrooms, especially high school classrooms (college classes are becoming so weird and specific nowadays that you could read just about anything in them), suffer from the “classic effect” — which is exactly what it sounds like. Not that there’s anything wrong with literary classics, and they definitely should be read, but there’s so much more out there. And when you consider the fact that one-third of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives — well, it would be nice if they had a little more to go on than The Great Gatsby. After the jump, find a selection of books you’ll (probably) never read in high school, but should still read, and add your own favorite anti-schoolbooks to the list in the comments. … Read More

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Where Is Today’s Literary Brat Pack?

Thirty years ago today, Vintage Books published Bright Lights, Big City, a semi-autobiographical, cocaine-fueled journey through ‘80s New York written by a 29-year-old Jay McInerney. Three years later, McInerney was famously anointed (or condemned) by the Village Voice as part of the “literary brat pack,” alongside Bret Easton Ellis and Tama Janowitz and a selection of other orbiting talents. … Read More

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