December means a lot of things. Our normally latent shopping gene starts itching like crazy, mint-flavored coffee starts sounding like a good idea, and every single media outlet (ourselves included) puts up their “best of” everything lists. Well, ’tis the season. In an effort to distill all those year’s end book round-ups — and let’s face it, be a little meta — we looked at 16 lists from 14 media organizations and counted up the books that tickled the most critics this year. Turns out, they had quite a few differing opinions — on those 16 lists alone, we noted more than 150 unique titles — but also agreed across the board on a few knock-outs. After the jump, feast your eyes on the most popular books of the 2012 best book list season — and let us know if you agree with consensus or think the world’s gone mad in the comments. … Read More
The newly released big biography of David Foster Wallace, entitled Every Love Story is a Ghost Story and written by New Yorker scribe D.T. Max, gives a nitty-gritty look at Wallace as a troubled, tortured artist and human being. But DTM on DFW is also a primer on the growth of this particular writer — throughout the text we get mentions of the exact books Wallace read, and when, and how they formed his style. Here are just eight of them (one is a short story), along with the relevant excerpt from Max’s book. Follow along to become the next David Foster Wallace — or maybe just a little more well-read. … Read More
We already know about the complicated friendships between David Foster Wallace and his famous friends — Mary Karr, Jeffrey Eugenides, Jonathan Franzen, Mark Leyner — but in this excerpt from D.T. Max’s forthcoming biography Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace, we get a glimpse into a… Read More
Another month, another stack of books in our must read pile. For fiction addicts, we have an unusual amount of non-fiction on our list this month — maybe it’s an aftereffect of so much delicious (but oh so sugary) beach reading, or maybe it’s just that we can’t resist subjects as compelling as George Orwell’s diaries, Paul Auster’s memoir, and D.T. Max’s biography of David Foster Wallace. But don’t worry, we have plenty of novels and short stories this month as well, for a well-rounded month full of fine literature, fascinating lives, and some hilarious missives to boot. Click through to check out our list of the books we’re most excited about this August, and let us know which ones you’ve been itching to read in the comments. … Read More
In addition to an excerpt from his final novel, the New Yorker has a long profile of David Foster Wallace online today. D.T. Max delves into the psychopharmacological shifts that preceded Wallace’s suicide in September of last year, and manages to draw an original portrait of his life without presenting the same facts that every other profile has trotted out during the flurry of posthumous hype. Some of us have been reading about Wallace and his work for years — going on a decade now — and it remains a thrill to find a previously undiscovered “chunklet” of info, to use a word coined by the man himself.
The most striking chunklet in Max’s profile, at least for some one whose all-time desert-island novel is Infinite Jest, is that the primary female character, Joelle Van Dyne, is based on the poet and memoirist Mary Karr. … Read More