David Foster Wallace

David Runciman

This week’s episode in our series on the great political essays is about David Foster Wallace’s ‘Up, Simba!’, which describes his experiences following the doomed campaign of John McCain for the Republican presidential nomination in 2000. Wallace believed that McCain’s distinctive political style revealed some hard truths about American democracy. Was he right? What did he miss? And how do those truths look now in the age of Trump?

More on David Foster Wallace from the LRB:

Jenny Turner on Wallace and his moment
‘The risk Wallace takes is to guess he is not the only "obscenely well-educated", curiously lost and empty white boy out there; that his sadness is also the experience of a whole historical moment.’

Patricia Lockwood on Wallace and his influence
‘It was the essayists who were left to cope with his almost radioactive influence. He produced a great deal of excellent writing, the majority of it not his own.’

Dale Peck’s notorious takedown of Infinite Jest
‘If nothing else, the success of Infinite Jest is proof that the Great American Hype machine can still work wonders.’

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