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All the News Is Bad

Francis Gooding: Our Alien Planet, 1 August 2019

The Uninhabitable Earth: A Story of the Future 
by David Wallace-Wells.
Allen Lane, 320 pp., £20, February 2019, 978 0 241 35521 3
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... How long​ do we have left, and how bad will it get? David Wallace-Wells opens his book with a short, sharp reality check: ‘It’s worse, much worse, than you think.’ All the news is bad. Marshalling research from across the sprawling field of climate studies, Wallace-Wells paints a picture of disastrous change on an almost incomprehensible scale ...

Illuminating, horrible etc

Jenny Turner: David Foster Wallace, 14 April 2011

Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace 
by David Lipsky.
Broadway, 320 pp., $16.99, 9780307592439
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The Pale King: An Unfinished Novel 
by David Foster Wallace.
Hamish Hamilton, 547 pp., £20, April 2011, 978 0 241 14480 0
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... gratifying that people die while watching it, round and round for ever, in an endless loop. David Foster Wallace always had trouble finishing his novels. And yet he put in this one a thought so absorbing and delightful that you could easily imagine yourself, like the rat in the experiment, pressing the lever over and ...

Next Stop, Reims

Ardis Butterfield: Medieval Literary Itineraries, 26 April 2018

Europe: A Literary History, 1348-1418 
by David Wallace.
Oxford, 1591 pp., £180, April 2016, 978 0 19 873535 9
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... David Wallace​ ’s Europe: A Literary History, 1348-1418 contains 82 chapters by an enormous team of international contributors spanning what Wallace describes as nine ‘itineraries’: Paris to Béarn; Calais to London; St Andrews to Finistère; Basel to Danzig; Avignon to Naples; Palermo to Tunis; Cairo to Constantinople; Mount Athos to Muscovy; Venice to Prague ...

Well, duh

Dale Peck, 18 July 1996

Infinite Jest 
by David Foster Wallace.
Little, Brown, 1079 pp., £17.99, July 1996, 0 316 92004 5
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... essay in Harper’s magazine the young novelist Jonathan Franzen declares Pynchon a personal hero. David Foster Wallace moves beyond admiration to adulation – if not, to put it more plainly, outright imitation. It is, in fact, a virtuoso performance that has eclipsed its progenitor: ...

Don’t like it? You don’t have to play

Wyatt Mason: David Foster Wallace, 18 November 2004

Oblivion: Stories 
by David Foster Wallace.
Abacus, 329 pp., £12, July 2004, 0 349 11810 8
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... words were generated by the celebrated youngish American novelist, journalist and story-writer David Foster Wallace. Although willing to tilt at shiny targets of grammatical contention (the ending of sentences with prepositions etc), Wallace was, for the most part, hunting bigger ...

How to Catch a Tortoise

A.W. Moore: Infinity, 18 December 2003

Everything and More: A Compact History of ∞ 
by David Foster Wallace.
Weidenfeld, 319 pp., £14.99, November 2003, 0 297 64567 6
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A Brief History of Infinity: The Quest to Think the Unthinkable 
by Brian Clegg.
Constable, 255 pp., £8.99, September 2003, 1 84119 650 9
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The Art of the Infinite: Our Lost Language of Numbers 
by Robert Kaplan and Ellen Kaplan.
Allen Lane, 324 pp., £20, August 2003, 0 7139 9629 3
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... As you’ve probably begun to see,’ David Foster Wallace writes in Everything and More, ‘Aristotle manages to be sort of grandly and breathtakingly wrong, always and everywhere, when it comes to infinity.’ A much milder version of this antagonism towards Aristotle appears in both Brian Clegg’s Brief History of Infinity and Robert and Ellen Kaplan’s The Art of the Infinite ...

At the Wallace Collection

Peter Campbell: Anthony Powell’s artists, 26 January 2006

... At the Wallace Collection, Poussin’s A Dance to the Music of Time has been taken down into the basement. It can be found there until 5 February, holding a position of honour in Dancing to the Music of Time, an exhibition about the life and work of Anthony Powell. The painting is powerful but decorous. Apollo’s chariot, high in the sky, drives away the clouds of night ...

Reconstruction

Christopher Beha: Jeffrey Eugenides, 6 October 2011

The Marriage Plot 
by Jeffrey Eugenides.
Fourth Estate, 406 pp., £20, October 2011, 978 0 00 744129 7
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... he was satisfied’, all the details coalesce into a portrait of Eugenides’s late contemporary David Foster Wallace. I want to call Leonard a ‘tribute’ to Wallace, whose suicide presumably occurred while Eugenides was in the middle of writing the book. But most of the time Leonard ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: I'll eat my modem, 10 August 2000

... renders most other fiction meaningless. One can imagine Pynchon and Ballard and Stephen King and David Foster Wallace bowing at Mark Danielewski’s feet, choking with astonishment, surprise, laughter and awe. I feel privileged to be among its first readers. Will I ever recover?’ House of leaves has at least three ...

Move Your Head and the Picture Changes

Jenny Turner: Helen DeWitt, 11 September 2008

Your Name Here 
by Helen DeWitt and Ilya Gridneff.
helendewitt.com, 580 pp., £8, May 2008
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... Some years ago, the novelist David Foster Wallace submitted himself to a long television interview with Charlie Rose, the PBS chat-show host. It was a terrific performance, and in it Wallace talked about why, in much of his work, narrative is split into body-text and footnotes: There’s a way, it seems to me, that reality’s fractured right now, at least the reality that I live in ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘I’m Thinking of Ending Things’, 24 September 2020

... weirder. Kaufman goes to town on the meet the parents scenario, and Mum and Dad (Toni Collette and David Thewlis) go through the motions with relish. Mum giggles and gushes; Dad’s idea of joviality is scariness itself. Jake loses his temper in embarrassment. None of this is excruciatingly funny, but it is excruciating. Surely this is where the gothic stuff ...

God wielded the buzzer

Christian Lorentzen: The Sorrows of DFW, 11 October 2012

Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace 
by D.T. Max.
Granta, 352 pp., £20, September 2012, 978 1 84708 494 1
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... David Foster Wallace’s parents, Sally and Jim, were the sort of couple who read each other Ulysses in bed while holding hands. Jim read David and his younger sister Amy Moby-Dick as a bedtime story. It wasn’t inevitable that the boy would grow up to write an epic novel, but it wasn’t accidental ...

A Kind of Gnawing Offness

David Haglund: Tao Lin, 21 October 2010

Richard Yates 
by Tao Lin.
Melville House, 206 pp., £10.99, October 2010, 978 1 935554 15 8
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... novel. But Lin doesn’t do anything cute with the names: he uses them as straightforwardly as David Foster Wallace uses X and Y in ‘Octet #6’, for example, or as Lorrie Moore uses Mother and Baby in ‘People like That Are the Only People Here’. Jonathan Lethem has said that ‘strange character names are an easy ...

Better on TV

Jon Day: The Tennis Craze, 8 October 2020

A People’s History of Tennis 
by David Berry.
Pluto, 247 pp., £14.99, May, 978 0 7453 3965 8
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... has it, was brought to him mid-set). ‘At the peak of its popularity in the 16th century,’ David Berry writes in his history of tennis, ‘Paris alone had 250 courts, including one at the Louvre and another at Versailles, the latter of which was occupied in the revolution of 1789 by the Third Estate as a symbolic protest at the elitist nature of this ...

I dive under the covers

Sheila Heti: Mad Wives, 6 June 2013

Heroines 
by Kate Zambreno.
Semiotext(e), 309 pp., £12.95, November 2012, 978 1 58435 114 6
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... professes a sympathy, intentionally puts himself in extreme situations, then writes about them. David Foster Wallace (to whom Zambreno doesn’t relate) in his fiction seemingly did not. So when Keeler, offended by Zambreno’s appropriation of the identities of these women, asks, ‘at what point does recognising ...

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