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Sonora Review DFW Tribute
by multiple authors (editors)

Sonora Review DFW Tribute
by multiple authors (editors)

Sonora Review DFW Tribute
by multiple authors (editors)

13
3
terms
4
notes

Sheehan, M. (None). An Interview with Tom Bissell. In ? (ed) Sonora Review DFW Tribute. None, pp. 13-22

14

[...] the harrowing David Lipsky piece Rolling Stone published after his death, wherein we find Dave confessing to Jonathan Franzen that, in Jon's words, Dave had a "notion of not having an authentic self. Of being just quick enough to construct a pleasing self for whomever he was talking to. I see now he wasn't just being funny--there was something genuinely compromised in David." He evidently came at this "'meta'-stuff" not from a Modernist perspective, in which difficulty becomes a kind of aesthetic merit badge, or from the John Barthian "literature of exhaustion" perspective, in which literary sophistication equals seeing through literary devices, but rather out of his personal struggle to find within his own mind an authentic, honorable artistic self. In no other Wallace book is this struggle so painfully clear. The pieces have no formal connection; what they have is a metaphysical connection. In this sense they go beyond Modernism and beyond Postmodernism and into a realm for which we do not yet even have a name, though I have often wondered if it might not be called a form of literary postlapsarianism.

On Brief Interviews

—p.14 by Tom Bissell 6 years, 10 months ago

[...] the harrowing David Lipsky piece Rolling Stone published after his death, wherein we find Dave confessing to Jonathan Franzen that, in Jon's words, Dave had a "notion of not having an authentic self. Of being just quick enough to construct a pleasing self for whomever he was talking to. I see now he wasn't just being funny--there was something genuinely compromised in David." He evidently came at this "'meta'-stuff" not from a Modernist perspective, in which difficulty becomes a kind of aesthetic merit badge, or from the John Barthian "literature of exhaustion" perspective, in which literary sophistication equals seeing through literary devices, but rather out of his personal struggle to find within his own mind an authentic, honorable artistic self. In no other Wallace book is this struggle so painfully clear. The pieces have no formal connection; what they have is a metaphysical connection. In this sense they go beyond Modernism and beyond Postmodernism and into a realm for which we do not yet even have a name, though I have often wondered if it might not be called a form of literary postlapsarianism.

On Brief Interviews

—p.14 by Tom Bissell 6 years, 10 months ago
14

[...] I'm pretty sure the "Sarah" and "Eric Yang" from "Church Not Made with Hands" are the implied questioner and questionee from the final Brief Interview, in which we learn about a woman who saves herself from being murdered by a deranged mulatto. The man in this Brief Interview, who tells the story of the woman and the mulatto, seems to give away his real identity when he tells the female interviewer, "Now we're on your terra firma. The whole prototypical male syndrome. Eric Drag Sarah To Teepee By Hair." [...]

idk if i agree (i also can't remember Eric and Sarah from Church) but something to consider

—p.14 by Tom Bissell 6 years, 10 months ago

[...] I'm pretty sure the "Sarah" and "Eric Yang" from "Church Not Made with Hands" are the implied questioner and questionee from the final Brief Interview, in which we learn about a woman who saves herself from being murdered by a deranged mulatto. The man in this Brief Interview, who tells the story of the woman and the mulatto, seems to give away his real identity when he tells the female interviewer, "Now we're on your terra firma. The whole prototypical male syndrome. Eric Drag Sarah To Teepee By Hair." [...]

idk if i agree (i also can't remember Eric and Sarah from Church) but something to consider

—p.14 by Tom Bissell 6 years, 10 months ago

written as a series of documents: letters, diary entries, newspaper clippings and other documents

16

I also remember the typical _Harper's_ian epistolary maelstrom that commenced soon after it appeared.

on Depressed Person

—p.16 by Tom Bissell
notable
6 years, 10 months ago

I also remember the typical _Harper's_ian epistolary maelstrom that commenced soon after it appeared.

on Depressed Person

—p.16 by Tom Bissell
notable
6 years, 10 months ago

an ancient religious movement that has to do with duality? "an elaborate dualistic cosmology describing the struggle between a good, spiritual world of light, and an evil, material world of darkness"

17

(I still stand by that judgment, though not with nearly the same Manichean fervor)

asserting that the ETA parts of IJ aren't as good as the Don Gately parts

—p.17 by Tom Bissell
notable
6 years, 10 months ago

(I still stand by that judgment, though not with nearly the same Manichean fervor)

asserting that the ETA parts of IJ aren't as good as the Don Gately parts

—p.17 by Tom Bissell
notable
6 years, 10 months ago

(noun) a member of the western division of the Goths (nomadic tribes of Germanic peoples known for invading various parts of Europe)

17

I would go Visigothic on such people.

on people who sneered at DFW

—p.17 by Tom Bissell
uncertain
6 years, 10 months ago

I would go Visigothic on such people.

on people who sneered at DFW

—p.17 by Tom Bissell
uncertain
6 years, 10 months ago
18

[...] The day I bought BIWHM at the Community Bookstore in Brooklyn, I was still reeling from having been recently left by my fiancee (I even spontaneously asked out the girl who rang the book up; she said no), and was basically spending ungodly amounts of time alone. I went to the movies alone, ate dinner alone, went to the park alone; I was a bouquet of loneliness, irradiated by grief and bewilderment, and this book, which is also irradiated by a different kind of grief and bewilderment, felt in this midst of this self-loathing megalomania somehow aimed at me. [...] I read "Octet" in a Chinese restaurant in Chelsea, and something about Wallace's direct address of the reader, in which he admits that this maneuver is doomed to make him appear "fundamentally lost and confused and frightened and unsure about whether to trust even [his] most fundamental intuitions about urgency and sameness and whether other people deep inside experience things in anything like" the way he, David Foster Wallace, does--well ... can I ask for a critical full-stop here? Can I say something not smart or interesting or James Woodian at all, and just tell you that, reading those words, in this ghastly Chinese restaurant, I put the book down and started to cry? I was lost, and confused, and frightened, and the one person I thought I knew better than anyone, my fiancee, had now revealed to me that, in fact, I knew nothing and no one, not at all, and there I was, as desperate as some kenneled animal, and who do I see beside me, equally caged, but a writer I admired and loved as much as any in this world? It was terrifying as well as heartening, and so my relationship to this book, which I love very much is caught up in the ganglia of a profoundly miserable time in my life, which makes it difficult to talk about on a purely literary level. It is like asking me to describe the fabric of the life jacket I was wearing when I was pulled out of the Atlantic Ocean after being lost at sea for five weeks. [...]

this is heartbreaking and, weirdly, reminds me of Jonathan Franzen

—p.18 by Tom Bissell 6 years, 10 months ago

[...] The day I bought BIWHM at the Community Bookstore in Brooklyn, I was still reeling from having been recently left by my fiancee (I even spontaneously asked out the girl who rang the book up; she said no), and was basically spending ungodly amounts of time alone. I went to the movies alone, ate dinner alone, went to the park alone; I was a bouquet of loneliness, irradiated by grief and bewilderment, and this book, which is also irradiated by a different kind of grief and bewilderment, felt in this midst of this self-loathing megalomania somehow aimed at me. [...] I read "Octet" in a Chinese restaurant in Chelsea, and something about Wallace's direct address of the reader, in which he admits that this maneuver is doomed to make him appear "fundamentally lost and confused and frightened and unsure about whether to trust even [his] most fundamental intuitions about urgency and sameness and whether other people deep inside experience things in anything like" the way he, David Foster Wallace, does--well ... can I ask for a critical full-stop here? Can I say something not smart or interesting or James Woodian at all, and just tell you that, reading those words, in this ghastly Chinese restaurant, I put the book down and started to cry? I was lost, and confused, and frightened, and the one person I thought I knew better than anyone, my fiancee, had now revealed to me that, in fact, I knew nothing and no one, not at all, and there I was, as desperate as some kenneled animal, and who do I see beside me, equally caged, but a writer I admired and loved as much as any in this world? It was terrifying as well as heartening, and so my relationship to this book, which I love very much is caught up in the ganglia of a profoundly miserable time in my life, which makes it difficult to talk about on a purely literary level. It is like asking me to describe the fabric of the life jacket I was wearing when I was pulled out of the Atlantic Ocean after being lost at sea for five weeks. [...]

this is heartbreaking and, weirdly, reminds me of Jonathan Franzen

—p.18 by Tom Bissell 6 years, 10 months ago
22

[....[ In the end, I can't think of another writer whose work was more engaged with the difficult demands of simple human decency. Wallace was a Midwestern Kafka, the Borges of Normal, Illinois, and, for the rest of my life, I know that whenever something interesting happens, culturally, politically, or literally, I will sit back and wonder what Dave Wallace might have made of it. I can't think of another writer more emblematic of this, of our, time. Part o what I know about being alive now feels like I owe to him. And now--certum est, quia impossibile--he is gone.

I just really like this

—p.22 by Tom Bissell 6 years, 10 months ago

[....[ In the end, I can't think of another writer whose work was more engaged with the difficult demands of simple human decency. Wallace was a Midwestern Kafka, the Borges of Normal, Illinois, and, for the rest of my life, I know that whenever something interesting happens, culturally, politically, or literally, I will sit back and wonder what Dave Wallace might have made of it. I can't think of another writer more emblematic of this, of our, time. Part o what I know about being alive now feels like I owe to him. And now--certum est, quia impossibile--he is gone.

I just really like this

—p.22 by Tom Bissell 6 years, 10 months ago