After his death, fans of David Foster Wallace canonized him as a prophet, according him a degree of benevolence shared by almost no one in American letters. In New York Magazine, Christian Lorentzen argues that Wallace himself worried about this happening, and says he’d “probably be the last person to argue for his sainthood.” His essay pairs nicely with Jonathan Russell Clark on The David Foster Wallace Reader.
“I was also deeply protective of my father, who at the time of my reading was struggling with illness and other demons. Yet I saw painfully how he could also be a figure of fun. It dawned on me that Cal, supposedly a great friend, might be mocking him—even just by writing about his mockery by others. I registered the first stirrings of an uncertain dislike." Diantha Parker considers her father's long friendship with Robert Lowell, immortalized in Lowell's poem "To Frank Parker."
It was the height of the feminist revolution and one man was trying, unsuccessfully, to publish a book about a man amidst a midlife crisis. 25 years later, Esquire editor Gordon Lish read sections of An Armful of Warm Girl in a literary magazine and demanded that Knopf reconsider publishing it (they did). This week over at Bloom, Nicki Leone dives into the work of W.M. Spackman, the man often referred to as "Fitzgerald's literary heir."
This essay by Mensah Demary for Electric Literature on Nas and the literary legitimacy of hip-hop is the best thing you'll read this morning. "Nas is a world-class storyteller and practitioner of the narrative form," Demary writes, "I don’t understand why there isn’t more discussion around hip-hop’s literary value among today’s millennial-and-boomer intelligentsia."
This month, a Brentwood School archivist unearthed a two-page poem entitled "A Dissertation on the task of writing a poem on a candle and an account of some of the difficulties thereto pertaining.” The kicker? It was written by a 17-year-old Douglas Adams, nine years before he published The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.