Welcome to Bookmarker!

This is a personal project by @dellsystem. I built this to help me retain information from the books I'm reading.

Source code on GitHub (MIT license).

759

Afterword by Anne Fadiman
(missing author)

1
terms
3
notes

about an undergrad English class she taught at Yale that covered the State Fair essay. her students would send him questions about it over email and he would reply. he died six days before her 2008 class :(

? (2014). Afterword by Anne Fadiman. In Foster Wallace, D. The David Foster Wallace Reader. Little, Brown and Company, pp. 759-762

760

The third is wordplay. Wallace doesn't bend grammar, but he bends English. He loves Germanic compounds like "shingle-sized" (describing pizza slices), "Rice-Krispie-squarish" (describing Krakkles), and "pubic-hair-shaped" (describing Curly Fries). If no existing adjective can do exactly what he wants, he invents one--for instance, "Jetsonian" (describing DIPPIN DOTS). The students, ecumenical scholars of pop culture, all get the reference.

[...]

The fifth is multisensory description. We all have noses, ears, tongues, and skin, but most people write as if they had only eyes. Not Wallace. That's how he makes us feel we're at the fair, not just reading about it. I ask for examples of each sense. Everyone speaks at once. Sound-carpet of deep fryers! Air spicy with antiperspirant and Coppertone! Yummy Elephant Ears! The weird, abstract texture of DIPPIN DOTS! I ask how they'd characterize "the green reek of fried tomatoes" and "bright-yellow popcorn that stinks of salt". It's Yale. At least four students cry out, Synesthesia!

other aspects of the essay: the section about the fair's food offerings is super jumbled and disorganized to represent the actual fair; his maximalist sentence structure is still nevertheless highly meticulous and precise (his SNOOTitude shows); when he lists sweets, the items get longer/funnier near the end

—p.760 missing author 4 years, 8 months ago

The third is wordplay. Wallace doesn't bend grammar, but he bends English. He loves Germanic compounds like "shingle-sized" (describing pizza slices), "Rice-Krispie-squarish" (describing Krakkles), and "pubic-hair-shaped" (describing Curly Fries). If no existing adjective can do exactly what he wants, he invents one--for instance, "Jetsonian" (describing DIPPIN DOTS). The students, ecumenical scholars of pop culture, all get the reference.

[...]

The fifth is multisensory description. We all have noses, ears, tongues, and skin, but most people write as if they had only eyes. Not Wallace. That's how he makes us feel we're at the fair, not just reading about it. I ask for examples of each sense. Everyone speaks at once. Sound-carpet of deep fryers! Air spicy with antiperspirant and Coppertone! Yummy Elephant Ears! The weird, abstract texture of DIPPIN DOTS! I ask how they'd characterize "the green reek of fried tomatoes" and "bright-yellow popcorn that stinks of salt". It's Yale. At least four students cry out, Synesthesia!

other aspects of the essay: the section about the fair's food offerings is super jumbled and disorganized to represent the actual fair; his maximalist sentence structure is still nevertheless highly meticulous and precise (his SNOOTitude shows); when he lists sweets, the items get longer/funnier near the end

—p.760 missing author 4 years, 8 months ago
761

I'd say that this is a dangerous kind of piece to do, because it sets up Narrator Persona challenges, more specifically the Asshole Problem. I'm sure you guys have seen it--it's death if the biggest sense the reader gets from a critical essay is that the narrator's a very critical person, or from a comic essay that the narrator's cruel or snooty. Hence the importance of being just as critical about oneself as one is about the stuff/people one's being critical of.

in a response to a student email

—p.761 by David Foster Wallace 4 years, 8 months ago

I'd say that this is a dangerous kind of piece to do, because it sets up Narrator Persona challenges, more specifically the Asshole Problem. I'm sure you guys have seen it--it's death if the biggest sense the reader gets from a critical essay is that the narrator's a very critical person, or from a comic essay that the narrator's cruel or snooty. Hence the importance of being just as critical about oneself as one is about the stuff/people one's being critical of.

in a response to a student email

—p.761 by David Foster Wallace 4 years, 8 months ago

traveling from place to place, especially working or based in various places for relatively short periods

761

I seem to recall stuff about clinically fat people engaged in peripatetic eating that made them look bovine.

in an email response to a student about how to find a balance between mocking the target and mocking yourself

—p.761 by David Foster Wallace
notable
4 years, 8 months ago

I seem to recall stuff about clinically fat people engaged in peripatetic eating that made them look bovine.

in an email response to a student about how to find a balance between mocking the target and mocking yourself

—p.761 by David Foster Wallace
notable
4 years, 8 months ago
762

The next year, a senior named Alex Borinsky asked: Have you ever not written something for fear the subject might read it?

Wallace sent Alex a response nearly as long as the last one. Yes, he said. He had backed out of book reviews because he didn't want to skewer the books. He had omitted personal details from a profile because they had been revealed in moments of indiscretion. He explained:

On the one hand, a writer has to understand that his primary allegiance is to the reader, not to the article's subject. Excessive concern about subjects' feelings can lead to all sorts of dishonesty that the reader will be able to detect (whether this detection is conscious or not). On the other hand, life is short, and hard, and it seems like good policy to inflict the absolute minimum pain/humiliation on other people as we schlep through the day.

Alex and his classmates were glad to hear this. Wallace's descriptions of the fat fairgoers had troubled them. He was snide. But he was also kind. It was instructive to realize that one could be both.

—p.762 missing author 4 years, 8 months ago

The next year, a senior named Alex Borinsky asked: Have you ever not written something for fear the subject might read it?

Wallace sent Alex a response nearly as long as the last one. Yes, he said. He had backed out of book reviews because he didn't want to skewer the books. He had omitted personal details from a profile because they had been revealed in moments of indiscretion. He explained:

On the one hand, a writer has to understand that his primary allegiance is to the reader, not to the article's subject. Excessive concern about subjects' feelings can lead to all sorts of dishonesty that the reader will be able to detect (whether this detection is conscious or not). On the other hand, life is short, and hard, and it seems like good policy to inflict the absolute minimum pain/humiliation on other people as we schlep through the day.

Alex and his classmates were glad to hear this. Wallace's descriptions of the fat fairgoers had troubled them. He was snide. But he was also kind. It was instructive to realize that one could be both.

—p.762 missing author 4 years, 8 months ago