BOOKS
11/05/2012 10:08 am ET Updated Nov 05, 2012

David Foster Wallace's 'Both Flesh And Not': The Book We're Talking About

Both Flesh and Not by David Foster Wallace
Little, Brown and Company, $26.99
November 6, 2012

What is it about?
It's a posthumous book of essays that range from the topic of tennis to the film Terminator 2. Though they have all been published in magazines before, they have not been published in a book. The book also contains a list of words that Wallace wanted to learn.

Why are we talking about it?
We love David Foster Wallace, and think his non-fiction is even better than his fiction.

Who wrote it?
David Foster Wallace is the author of The Pale King, Infinite Jest, and The Broom of the System. He also has several short story and essay collections. He was also a finalist for the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for The Pale King. He died in 2008.

Who will read it?
Fans of Wallace's former work, people who enjoy reading shorter pieces, anyone who enjoys reading about pop culture/cultural phenomenons.

What do the reviewers say?

Publishers Weekly: "...Wallace’s genuine and infectious love for obsessive human endeavors as disparate as pro tennis, analytic philosophy, and pure math. However, for all the gems, a few essays are simply too slight to merit inclusion, while others such as 'Fictional Futures and the Conspicuously Young' have the sort of precociously earnest tone that makes one wonder how happy Wallace would have been about their inclusion."

Marie Claire: "If you've never read DFW before, his masterful study of Roger Federer, included in this anthology, is an ideal place to start."

Impress your friends:
David Foster Wallace loved words and language, and has written many essays on grammar and word use. He even served on the Usage Panel of The American Heritage Dictionary.

Opening line:
"Almost anyone who loves tennis and follows the men's tour on television has, over the last few years, had what might be termed Federer Moments. These are times, watching the young Swiss at play, when the jaw drops and eyes protrude and sounds are made that bring spouses in form other rooms to see if you're OK. The Moments are more intense if you've played enough tennis to understand the impossibility of what you just saw him do."

Notable passage:
"This schism between young writers and their older critics probably extends to the whole issue of strategic reference to 'popular culture' in literary fiction. The artistic deployment of pop icons--brand names, television programs, celebrities, commercial film and music--strikes those intellectuals whose consciousness was formed before the genuine Television Age as at best frivolous tics and at worst dangerous vapidities that compromise fiction's 'seriousness' by dating it out of the Platonic Always where it properly resides."

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