Book review: Both Flesh and Not, By David Foster Wallace
Boyd Tonkin is Senior Writer and a columnist at The Independent. An award-winning journalist, he was formerly Literary Editor at The Independent, and before that Social Policy Editor and then Books Editor at the New Statesman magazine. He has broadcast extensively for BBC arts and current affairs programmes and has judged the Booker Prize, the Whitbread biography award, the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the David Cohen Prize. In 2001, he re-founded the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize for literature in translation, and serves on its judging panel every year.
Friday 18 October 2013
Readers intrigued by the late author but deterred by the sheer bulk of Infinite Jest or The Pale King should enjoy this nursery-slope of his selected essays. Not that DFW ever lets himself off the hook.
Pieces on Roger Federer or the US Open will bristle with as many cliché-busting ideas as discourses on storytelling in maths, or the slide from "fun" to "vanity and fear" in literary careers.
Slangy, intimate, profound, DFW cared deeply about the integrity of his life and thought. In 1988, he hoped that "the good stuff can't help but rise". His did, at least.
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