Category Archives: Literature

Infinite Summer

For all of y’all literary types who fancy big, sprawling books…it doesn’t get much bigger, or more sprawling than this within contemporary letters (well, maybe this, but…): Join in and read one of the great texts from the late David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest. With groups on the Twitter and the Facebook helping with motivation there is no better time than the present.

People say stuff like this out of the side of their mouth all the time, but this book changed my life, introduced me to a different way of viewing the world, tied me to other people in a way no other book has done. Yes, there are over a thousand pages here, but contrary to what many critics have said, there is not a word out of place, nothing superfluous here, I promise. Thanks, Dave, we miss you.

Infinite Summer

(pic from wikipedia)

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Color Coded Library

If you know me, you know that I like books a little bit. I form little forts of them around me wherever I sit. Gift and a curse, I assure you. Reading a lot of the books tends to make it a little embarrassing when you go over someone’s house for the first time, because you have to obsessively scan the shelves while trying to engage in witty banter. The whole shebang’s an ordeal. However, you can go to libraries and stare at the books and no one can tell you from the homeless people. Designer Valeri Madill has created a nice color coding system for libraries, and methinks it would do a lot more for the Carnegie than the cafe section, or whatever it is.

(Thanks Yanko)

DFW Cartoon

So there’s this great little comic strip/site called pictures for sad children, and I received this link from my David Foster Wallace obsession/nerdfest/mailing list. I love it.

DFW cartoon

Chabon and Sedaris in Pgh

Every once in a while, Pittsburgh attracts talent who actually come back and visit and what not. Michael Chabon, Pulitizer Prize winner for The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, will be at Joseph Beth Booksellers at the South Side Works on Friday, May 2nd at 7pm, signing the paperback of his The Yiddish Policemen’s Union. Ordinary peeps can get tickets starting April 28th. I saw Mr. Chabon at the Waldorf a few years back, amongst a great group of authors and speakers (Peter Jennings, Alice Sebold), and he just blew me away. It’s great when such a talented individual is so down to earth, and it will be nice to see him again…Plus, he has some history in the Burgh, if you didn’t know.

Yiddish

Also, David Sedaris, as well as brilliant person and funny as hell, is at Joseph Beth’s on June 8th at 2pm. (Check out the J. Beth’s Blog for updates.)

DFW and Gender Theory

So…occasionally, since leaving the academe (heh) I still read some gender theory, and I’m somewhat interested in what has taken post-modernism’s place at the table of critical humanities discussion (seriously, stop talking about Freud and Derrida for about 50 years, you’ll come back to Freud smarter, and forget who Derrida was). Since I am a crack-fiend when it comes to David Foster Wallace, I found this book somewhere on my carpet (no, but really, can’t afford it, anyone want to get me a gift?): Becoming the New Man in Post-Postmodernist Fiction – Portrayals of Masculinities in David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest and Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club (for the low, low price of $64, Amazon will get it to you (me) with FREE!!!!! shipping. I’ve read most of Mr. Palahniuk’s stuff too, but…Blurb in italics following the pic.

Becoming the new man DFW cover

While scholars have analyzed the masculinity crisis portrayed in American fiction, few have focused on postmodernist fiction, few have examined masculinity without using feminist theory, and no articles propose a solution for ending traditional masculinity’s dominance. I examine the masculinity crisis as it is portrayed in two postmodernist novels, David Foster Wallace’s novel Infinite Jest and Chuck Palahniuk’s novel Fight Club. Both novels have male characters that ran the gamut of masculinities, but those that are the most successful at avoiding gender stereotypes develop a masculinity which incorporates strong, phallic masculinity and nurturing, testicular masculinity, creating a balanced masculinity. Also, both novels examine postmodernist fiction’s future. Wallace and Palahniuk help reveal the future of postmodernist fiction: a post-postmodernist fiction that, like well-rounded masculinity, seeks to be more emotionally open while still using irony and innovation for meaningful effects, not just to be clever. This book aims to help gender scholars further develop their theories about masculinity, and show literature scholars the future of postmodernist fiction.

(Text and Pic Amazon)

Joyce Carol Oates

Ms. Oates, who is an old fav of mine, and has written a book or two, has an interesting new work out, Wild Nights, where she imagines the final days of five literary monuments: Edgar Allen Poe, Emily Dickinson, Ernest Hemingway, Mark Twain, and Henry James. I haven’t read it yet, but the Times has a mini-review up here. Sounds more than interesting.

JCO Wild Nights

Milkshake: Drank

So it shouldn’t be a secret to those who know me that I like There Will Be Blood a little bit. Someone on my David Foster Wallace mailing list put me onto a link for the script a bit back, and though the whole thing is an okay read, I wanted to paste some of one specific part here for self-gratification purposes. Daniel and his (not-really) brother Henry are sitting and drinking and getting to know one another, I guess, and this is just classic material. I’ve made some slices to the original for spacial considerations, and I’m avoiding entirely any critical or close reading judgments for the moment, maybe some lit crit in the future. Like I wouldn’t say Daniel might have been saved had he let his son (anointed and dumbed by oil:messiah) burn his false brother to death. That Daniel could then have had the chance to realize family as a way above the self-reflected, self-interest the tore his soul apart and unleashed free market fundamentalism in the world. Everyone is a Hegelian, pt anderson included.
DANIEL
are you an angry man, Henry?

HENRY
…about what?

DANIEL
are you envious? do you get envious?

HENRY

I don’t think so.

DANIEL
I have a competition in me.
I want no one else to succeed.
I hate most people.

HENRY
That part of me is gone…working and
not succeeding – all my failures has
left me – I don’t care as much –
DANIEL…if it’s in me, it’s in you…

There are times when I look at people
and I see nothing worth liking.

DANIEL
Don’t you want to succeed?

HENRY
I used to dream and go after a success
like yours…now I just want to survive.
I don’t have the dedication to things
that I once had.
…1 just don’ t feel that way…
DANIEL
You’re being lazy. that’s what it is.
and you don’t have to be.
I’ve worked people over and gotten what
I want from them and it makes me sick;
Because I see that all people are lazy.
They’re easy to take…
I want to make enough money that I
can move far away from everyone.

HENRY
What will you do about your boy?
DANIEL
I don’t know. Maybe it will change.
Does your sound come back to you?
I don’t know. Maybe no one knows that.
A doctor might not know that.
HENRY
Where is his mother?
DANIEL
…1 don’t want to talk about those things…

DANIEL
I see the worst in people.
I don’t need to look past seeing them
to get all I need.
I want to rule and never, ever explain myself.
I’ve built my hatreds up over the years,
little by little, Henry…
…to have you here gives me a second
breath…I couldn’ t keep doing this
on my own with these people