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David Foster Wallace

15 articles
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Federer as Religious Experience

On the joys of watching the winningest tennis player of all time play live at Wimbledon.

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All That

A child's difficult obsession with a toy cement mixer.

It was a simple toy—no batteries. It had a colored rope, with a yellow handle, and you held the handle and walked pulling the cement mixer behind you—rather like a wagon, although it was nowhere near the size of a wagon. For Christmas, I'm positive it was. It was when I was the age where you can, as they say, 'hear voices' without worrying that something is wrong with you. I 'heard voices' all the time as a small child. I was either five or six, I believe. (I’m not very good with numbers.)

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Longform Fiction Pick: "Late Night"

Recounting an appearance on Letterman.

For a daily short story recommendation from our editors, check out Longform Fiction or follow @longformfiction on Twitter.

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Late Night

Recounting an appearance on Letterman.

Close up, he looked depressingly young. At most, 35. He congratulated me on the series' renewal, the Emmy nomination, and said my network had handled my unexpected pregnancy well on the show's third year, arranging to have me seen only behind waist-high visual impediments for 13 straight episodes.

"That was fun," I said sarcastically. I laughed dryly.

"Big, big fun," Letterman said, and the audience laughed.

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Brief Interviews With Hideous Men

A one-sided interview about a one night stand and a detailed, harrowing story about a sexual assault.

"That it was a titanic struggle, she said, in the Cutlass, heading deeper into the secluded area, because whenever for a moment her terror bested her or she for any reason lost her intense focus on the mulatto, even for a moment, the effect on the connection was obvious—his profile smiled and his right eye again went empty and dead as he recrudesced and began once again to singsong psychotically about the implements in his trunk and what he had in store for her once he found the ideal secluded spot, and she could tell that in the wavering of the soul-connection he was automatically reverting to resolving his connectionary conflict in the only way he knew. And I clearly remember her saying that by this time, whenever she succumbed and lost her focus for a moment and his eye and face reverted to creepy psychotic unconflicted relaxation, she was surprised to find herself feeling no longer paralyzing terror for herself but a nearly heartbreaking sadness for him, for the psychotic mulatto. And I’ll say that it was at roughly this point of listening to the story, still nude in bed, that I began to admit to myself that not only was it a remarkable postcoital anecdote but that this was, in certain ways, rather a remarkable woman, and that I felt a bit sad or wistful that I had not noticed this level of remarkability when I had first been attracted to her in the park."

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Signifying Rappers

Inside North Dorcester’s RJam Productions studio, where Nate and Gary Smith churn out rap demos for $500/tape.

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The Weasel, Twelve Monkeys And The Shrub

Covering a presidential candidate and the people who cover presidential candidates aboard the press buses Bullshit 1 and Bullshit 2 on the 2000 John McCain campaign trail.

From The Longform Guide to the Campaign Trail on Slate.

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Incarnations Of Burned Children

Two parents react to their child's accidental scalding.

"The Daddy was around the side of the house hanging a door for the tenant when he heard the child's screams and the Mommy's voice gone high between them. He could move fast, and the back porch gave onto the kitchen, and before the screen door had banged shut behind him the Daddy had taken the scene in whole, the overturned pot on the floortile before the stove and the burner's blue jet and the floor's pool of water still steaming."

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Backbone

A stand-alone piece of the manuscript that became The Pale King, this story details a young boy's mysterious and doomed obsession.

"During the five weeks that he was disabled with a subluxated T3 vertebra—often in such discomfort that not even his inhaler could ease the asthma that struck whenever he experienced pain or distress—the heady enthusiasm of childhood had given way in the boy to a realization that the objective of pressing his lips to every square inch of himself was going to require maximum effort, discipline, and a commitment sustainable over periods of time that he could not then (because of his age) imagine."

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Host

On conservative radio host John Ziegler and “the strange media landscape in which political talk radio is a salient.”

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The String Theory

A footnoted inquiry into the physics and metaphysics of tennis.

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“You Get to Decide How You’re Gonna Try to See It”

The author comments on the medium of the graduation cliché while still advancing it:

Of course the main requirement of speeches like this is that I'm supposed to talk about your liberal arts education's meaning, to try to explain why the degree you are about to receive has actual human value instead of just a material payoff. So let's talk about the single most pervasive cliché in the commencement speech genre, which is that a liberal arts education is not so much about filling you up with knowledge as it is about "teaching you how to think". If you're like me as a student, you've never liked hearing this, and you tend to feel a bit insulted by the claim that you needed anybody to teach you how to think, since the fact that you even got admitted to a college this good seems like proof that you already know how to think.

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David Foster Wallace Interviewed by Dave Eggers

“The writer/speaker has certain political convictions or affiliations, and proceeds to filter all reality and spin all assertion according to those convictions and loyalties. Everybody’s pissed off and exasperated and impervious to argument from any other side.”

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David Lynch Keeps His Head

A “fanatical Lynch fan from way back,” David Foster Wallace visits the set of Lost Highway, never actually talks to the director, and writes a profile.

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Consider the Lobster

A trip to a lobster festival leads to an examination of the culinary and ethical dimensions of cooking a live, possibly sentient, creature.