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Both Flesh and Not: Essays Hardcover – November 6, 2012
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The collection is clearly the spiritual sibling of A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again and Consider the Lobster, and comparing these seems appropriate. A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again (hereinafter, "ASFT") is an irregular collection -- the highest points, including the title essay, are superb, but the low points are utterly forgettable. As a result, I typically suggest that newcomers to DFW's essays start with Consider the Lobster; though it contains nothing as wonderful as the Illinois State Fair or Cruise Ship essays in ASFT, it's more consistently impressive.
This collection, Both Flesh and Not, more closely resembles ASFT.Read more ›
Nevertheless, there are certainly people who will want this book and they are bound to be a pretty self-selecting group. There are a few very good essays in this collection-the Federer essay and the review of the novel Wittgenstein's Mistress come to mind (though this review is available in full online and in any copy of the novel). And if you want to hear him discuss tennis yet again there's an essay about the US Open. As a complete essay collection, however, Both Flesh and Not comes nowhere near the breadth of Consider the Lobster or A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again.
In fact several of the pieces in here, especially his literary reviews, come across as the work of a jealously insecure, though deeply erudite mind. It's not enough that he gushes about his love of Wittgenstein's Mistress (which really is phenomenally well done) he also has to write an eye-glazingly protracted piece that makes every conceivable effort to remind you of how thorough and total his own grasp of Wittgenstein/Analytic philosophy is (as though we ever doubted, or even cared). And in a review of 2 thoroughly unimpressive novels about mathematics, he seems interested not only in making it crystal clear that he is a more thoughtful novelist than either of the 2 aforementioned writers, but that he in fact has a much deeper and more profound understanding of higher mathematics than either of them either. In short, Wallace seems to become weirdly passive-aggressive whenever any novelist dares raise their head to write a book about any sort of idea or theme that he himself is personally interested in.
And yet, there are pieces in here that are really gorgeously alive, in particular his essays about Tennis, which are so full of passion and delightful descriptions of Roger Federer, Andre Aggasi, Pete Sampras, et al.Read more ›
The titular piece on Federer is a great one and has been referred to by many as a masterpiece. Tennis has always been a major writing point of Wallace's with the subject featuring prominently in Infinite Jest as well as pieces focusing on the sport in "Derivative Sport in Tornado Alley" in the Supposedly Fun Thing... collection and a review of Tracy Austin's autobiography in Consider the Lobster. As a gifted writer, powerful observer and tennis aficionado (he tinkered around in the junior rankings as a teenager), Wallace make's the sport of tennis, oft not considered a major one in here in the U.S., come to life; adding beauty and grace in a manner that transfers his enthusiasm and understanding to his audience with ease.
Fictive futures may very well seem dated at first glance as it discusses authors and a sense of things from the point of view of 1987 when it was written, but carries with many universal and still true points. Wallace discusses creative writing programs, teachers, students, the role of pop culture and the roll of how said culture and entertainment is delivered.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I have only listened to that woman read a list of words on Audible.com. One of them leapt out at me because she practically spoonerizes "antimacasser" by saying... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Cathi Twill
Some wonderful essays here, especially the one about Roger Federer, among others. All worth your time and effort.Published 4 months ago by Jan R. Schulman
"Both Flesh and Not", essays by David Foster Wallace falls far short of his usual brilliant collections of essays and short stories. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Glenn Gallagher
This was purchased as a gift to my grandson....he said it was great but did not elaborate.Published 6 months ago by amkincheloe
So, I have reached the existential twilight zone where I define my relationship to David Foster Wallace's writing against the relationship of the people who define themselves by... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Benoit Lelievre