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This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life Hardcover – April 14, 2009
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Only once did David Foster Wallace give a public talk on his views on life, during a commencement address given in 2005 at Kenyon College. The speech is reprinted for the first time in book form in This is Water. How does one keep from going through their comfortable, prosperous adult life unconsciously? How do we get ourselves out of the foreground of our thoughts and achieve compassion? The speech captures Wallace's electric intellect as well as his grace in attention to others. After his death, it became a treasured piece of writing reprinted in The Wall Street Journal and the London Times, commented on endlessly in blogs, and emailed from friend to friend.
Writing with his one-of-a-kind blend of causal humor, exacting intellect, and practical philosophy, David Foster Wallace probes the challenges of daily living and offers advice that renews us with every reading.
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"We read Wallace because he forces us to think. He makes us consider what's beneath us and around us--like water."―Alicia J. Rouverol, The Christian Science Monitor
"Think of it as The Last Lecture for intellectuals."―Time
"None of the cloudlessly sane and true things he had to say about life in 2005 are any less sane or true today...[This is Water] reminds us of [Wallace's] strength and goodness and decency--the parts of him the terrible master [the mind] could never defeat, and never will."―Tom Bissel, New York Times Book Review
"Striking...is [Wallace's] evocative insight and humor."―Mark Follman, Mother Jones
About the Author
Wallace taught creative writing at Emerson College, Illinois State University, and Pomona College, and published the story collections Girl with Curious Hair, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, Oblivion, the essay collections A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, and Consider the Lobster. He was awarded the MacArthur Fellowship, a Lannan Literary Award, and a Whiting Writers' Award, and was appointed to the Usage Panel for The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. He died in 2008. His last novel, The Pale King, was published in 2011.
- Publisher : Little, Brown and Company; 1st edition (April 14, 2009)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 137 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0316068225
- ISBN-13 : 978-0316068222
- Item Weight : 6 ounces
- Dimensions : 4.75 x 0.75 x 6.75 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #17,243 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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A well-documented and easily Google-able text, entire speech, on the internet.
And now, for those that require hardcover or digital books to slow down their reading, to create "atmosphere" in order to better appreciate the words of Mr. Wallace, there is this book, with one or two lines per page, 140+ pages, hardbound, for your pleasure. Like reading a fortune cookie, one might read a page a day to savor the zeal of the graduation speech. Conversely, one could sit and read the entire book in less than the time it took David to say it, aloud, at Kenyon College. The extremes are allowed by this book.
I pity those that say they enjoy the speech broken into a few words per page to allow them to "slow down" and "appreciate the words". They must be ones to take ten dollars each day out of an ATM machine to control their spending. Perhaps these same people eat with a miniature fork to better enjoy food.
For the rest of us, who have self-control, the question is not of expense (this book is, unquestionably, the most expensive method for taking in this speech--the others are free); not of efficiency (the work being so short, we all have the time); not of pretty, bound baubles with eventually yellowing pages, broken-glue bindings and housing silverfish while aging on a sagging bookshelf (the bibliomaniacs among us will cringe); but of how best to take in the message. How best to connect with the author's intent.
Do newsroom soundbites reflect the context of a Presidential speech? Would Twitter's 140-character tweets do justice to the Gettysburg Address? Sadly, the answer is that the true context of words is held in the sentences in which they are homed; those sentences next dwell in paragraphs; paragraphs build themes.
And the overall message is lost in shattering a flowing speech into publisher-determined, bite-sized "nibbles", like smashed M&Ms that will leave one licking their fingers to get the last crumbs of chocolate from the bottom of the candy dish.
David Wallace, whether in Jest, King, Broom, or any of his essays and shorts, is best kept whole--the way he demanded it. The enforcer, Mr. Wallace was, of leaving things as he intended them. Only with a fight would he cut pages, re-work styles, or even change punctuation; the fragmentation of a monumental speech would be disallowed by the author. This is evident in any profile of Mr. Wallace, and in particular the DT Max biography (which is money much better spent if one wishes to "know" this author) Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace
To hear David's words, from his mouth, with his intonation and inflections, is priceless. Fortunately, that speech is archived elsewhere, as ubiquitous as butterflies in the springtime. And, best of all, it's free.
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Go on, look it up.