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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on April 18, 2012
I'm unsure why the hardcover edition is so fantastically expensive; this book must have seen a very narrow printing. Buy the paperback.
Despite the $ though, this is a nice little addition to the slip stream of Wallace Studies slowly growing since '09. DFW could talk. The conversations in here are lucid, on point, honest, and laden with an urgency rarely found in authorial chats. Plus it's nice to have all of the important interviews and talks bound in a single volume.
But mostly this book is bittersweet. It helps us understand the individual better, but mostly adds to the Cult of Personality surrounding him post-mortem. I imagine this collection will become another valued citation at the end of theses about Infinite Jest or The Pale King. There seems like a lot of critical stuff on Wallace out there right now that tries to link his personal and interview material to explications of his fiction, as if somehow Wallace was the sole carrier of his works' meaning and import.
Still, it's interesting to read what he had to say about lit theory and reading culture in America. There are little details throughout that offer up some good thought food (e.g. it's written that Wallace was raised an atheist, which flies in the face of his emphasis on personal religious moorings in IJ and TPK). But in the end it all starts to feel a little like desperation on the reader's side. Another volume to help us understand Him, but if I'm not mistaken we enjoy Wallace because of his fiction and essays, and that's exactly where the focus ought to remain.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on April 2, 2012
I had previously read Lipsky's DFW book and thought that gave me plenty of insight into DFW. I was wrong.

Mr Burn does a wonderful job with this compilation of interviews of DFW. They are in chronological order so you can somewhat see his thoughts evolve.

Before I bought this book, one night my wife and I played the "who would you invite to dinner?" game. Of course I said DFW. This book made him come alive as if he was talking to me. His insights and ways of thinking were phenomenal. And what a sense of humor! Several of his lines would be great titles for short stories. In fact, I plan on using one of them.

What his sister said about imagining DFW before the fateful moment will stick with me and my two dogs forever

For me, there are four people that left this life too soon: John Lennon, Kurt Cobain, Freddie Mercury and David Foster Wallace. I miss all of you!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on June 15, 2012
I have read nearly almost everything David Foster Wallace has published. If you enjoy DFW, then I suggest you read this collection and the David Lipsky book. David Lipsky shows you DFW the person, but this book shows you his ideas about what fiction is or should be. A great read and a necessity for DFW fans. Well worth the money. What you don't learn from Lipsky you will find here.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
It's no very easy to talk about the significate of the Wallace work and about his role in the actual literature.
This book has the form of dialogues, but the importance of those interviews is related to particular aspects of the Wallace intelligence.
There are many possible keys of lecture whom can be read here, but I prefer to select only some characteristics.
One is the particular attention for the mathematics, which is utilized as model but also as reference.
Therefore we can remember the interesting role of Wallace into the movement of Post-modern,as we can find in the pages of the author.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on May 29, 2013
The other reviews on this book have already captured its essence. I'm just appending my own 5-star rating in agreement with them. This collection is superb - only one or two of the essays/interviews were dry. The last sentence had me crying for a good half-hour. Highly recommended.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on March 24, 2014
The rating is for the binding, not the content. I paid the *$58* for the hardcover edition, because I collect books, I value quality bindings, and I reread my books. (But, then again, what reader of DFW's works *doesn't* reread him?). I foolishly assumed that the extremely high price for this slim volume was at least partially due to the high cost of a small production run of a well-bound book from a respected University press. Silly me.

You literally cannot open the book without cracking it open like a walnut. The book will not stay open unless you place a heavy object on it (I suggest a boulder). Picture a mass-market paperback, but with less flexible glue. A more trivial issue (but indicative of the publisher's attitude toward quality): rather than a cloth binding with a dust jacket, the book cover is plastic-coated cardboard, like--well, remember those books that used to be published for the remainder table at Crown Books? With public-domain titles like "Well-Loved Sherlock Holmes Stories"? Like that. I know that University presses are accustomed to charging the Weimar Germany-level prices typical of today's college textbooks, but could they not have devoted a few pennies of that money to producing a decent quality product?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 18, 2013
This collection of interviews answers a lot of questions about the elusive Wallace that certainly occur to readers of Infinite Jest. It illuminates the background and personality that underlie the brilliance that characterizes his novels. It also induces regret that nothing new will come forth from this great talent.
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on May 10, 2013
This book is thoroughly enjoyable for the DFW nerd. The choice to make it chronological was brilliant and I enjoyed seeing how his view points changed throughout his life.

Do bear in mind though, that the articles inside were never meant to be read back-to back-to back, so sometimes the information became rather repetitive and kind of inspired an "enough already" vibe in this reader. This is a format issue though and due to the nature of this book series, really couldn't be avoided.
Useful though slightly uneven, as one would expect a collection like this to be. Some interviewers are better than others

I did get some names of authors or specific books I'd like to follow up on, on the "wonder what about that caught Wallace's attention" approach. I've found some good books that way in the past (Brian Moore's Catholics leaps to mind).

I'd already read a few of the interviews, but not all; there was a combined one, with him and Richard Powers that was unusual.

DFW didn't enjoy doing interviews but the fact that he took interviewers questions seriously and then addressed each in an academic format is impressive.
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on October 16, 2014
I have read the biography of David Foster Wallace, but got really very little insight into the mind of DFW from it. However if you really want to understand DFW, read the interviews in this excellent collection. Perhaps it's because my mind seems to work in the same manner his does with the "click" described in one of the interviews and also think in terms of footnotes on almost any issue, that identified with DFW as a three-dimensional person, as came out in this book. Highly recommended for anyone interested in this very interesting person – even though I have yet to be able to get all the way through Infinite Jest!
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I highlighted the heck out of this book. It's just full of beautiful thoughts and incredible insights.

Devoted fans of DFW will find much to feed their souls. You get to follow the development of his key theories and convictions and watch them wend their way into his work.

However, I also frequently recommend this to people wondering where to start with DFW's work. If you're looking to understand where he's coming from, you can't do better than this.

It's pretty much essential.
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