Monday, February 3, 2014

reading: David Foster Wallace + A Million Little Pieces

...from David Foster Wallace (in a kind of domino-reading) to a so-called memoir to #readwomen

David Foster Wallace
September 2013 marked the fifth fifth anniversary of David Foster Wallace’s passing. The Found Poetry Review remembered his life and writing with a special online edition of their journal, and asked for submissions - one of my found poem made it into this issue  (here's the link: "Removed")

Creating the found poem made me browse some of Wallace's essays that are up online (here's both more about the Found issue, and an online essay list), it also made me order his collection of essays "Consider The Lobster". Reading it is like taking a philosophical walk through Western culture, and looking at things with a fresh und unafraid approach, from eating habits to pornography. A list of its contents is online at wiki: essay list - DFW / Consider..., and the title essay is still available online at Gourmet magazine: Consider the Lobster.

After "Consider the Lobster", i was curious for more about Wallace's life, for the things and events that shaped his life and intellect. That's how i came to read his biography, “Every Love Story is a Ghost Story”. It's touching to learn about the real story behind his stories and essays. The biography also gives an idea of writing as a subject at US universities, and about the literary scene at that time. I didn’t realize Wallace was going through addiction and rehab several times, and that he always had to think twice about how to include details from real life without exposing other group members. Reading the bio added both to the understanding of his stories, and in return, it showed how his stories and essays are connected to his life.


A Million Little Pieces by James Fry
This is a book i came across by chance. It’s a memoir of going through rehab after long years of abuse. After reading the first chapter, i read some reviews, and learned that there was a scandal around it: Fry said it’s memoir, when it’s partly fiction. It’s not really clear how much of it is truth and how much is dramatized, but it’s addictive to read, with its pull and the way he tries to describes his emotions and thoughts, in a way that pulls the reader into this pain. After some chapters, it started to feel more and more weird, though - especially in contrast to the descriptions of the AA-groups in the Wallace bio, it felt like reading about two different worlds.

An irony along the lines: Fry claimed that the book didn’t get accepted by agents at first as it was labelled fiction, so he tried the memoir-approach, obviously without adjusting the fictional character. On the other hand, Wallace ran into law cases as he used real life events in his fiction without fictionalizing them thoroughly enough.


Currently Reading + More Reads:
For my next reads, i will join the “readwomen2014” initiative and read women - i usually try to read a mix, but somehow my january now turned almost all male, so that was a good reminder.   Here’s more about that: 2014 - year of reading women

For more reading notes in this blog, click here: life as a journey with books

A reading list by regions is online at: World Reads by country

& Other book blog and their current reads: It's Monday! What Are You Reading? link list


Cathrine said...

love this post :-) thank you
and still love that title

I recently read a memoir than I think was written by someone else (not fiction but still) and am left With: but the ideas inside are wonderful .... why does it matter "who" wrote it ?

And why should it matter if it is fiction or not if beautiful (inspiring) truths are withing the Words ?

Hyacinth Marius said...

There are points I could quibble with, but the best advice is to read the biography and then reread the stories, the novels, the essays, everything, with a fresh understanding of what the hunger artist sacrificed so we could be entertained and touched.

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