Wednesday, January 25, 2017

What I Read: Both Flesh and Not

Continuing on my book club theme, we decided to host a book and bookmark exchange. My partner in the swap very generously sent me two books and an adorable punny bookmark. One of those books was Both Flesh and Not, a collection of disparate David Foster Wallace essays that came out in 2012 (but that I had somehow never acquired).

Image courtesy Little, Brown and Company

At this point I recognize that it's something of a trend or stereotype to love David Foster Wallace, but I don't care. I'll sit here and love him anyway. (Or at least, love his writing.) I don't know how much of this collection would be of interest to either my blog readers or my target demo customer base; the latter, at least, would probably enjoy "Rhetoric and the Math Melodrama," Wallace's review of The Wild Numbers and Uncle Petros and Goldbach's Conjecture (which originally appeared in a 2000 issue of Science magazine). Part of my love for Wallace is that we both occupy the Venn diagram overlap of "formal creative writing" studies and "formal philosophy" studies; the other part of my love for Wallace is his love for and interest in mathematics, a field I'd like to understand much more than I currently do. It's that love and interest that forms the background his critique of the aforementioned "math melodrama" novels.

Other subjects include Roger Federer, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, 2007's Best American Essays, thoughts on word usage, Wittgenstein's Mistress, and more.

Readers who are new to Wallace might do better with This is Water, his Kenyon College commencement address, which by virtue of being a spoken/presented piece rather than a written one, makes the reading a little easier. But if you like syntactically and conceptually dense writing, by all means jump in with an essay collection (A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, Consider the Lobster, Both Flesh and Not) or a novel (The Broom of the System, Infinite Jest). I admit to not liking his short stories (Girl With the Curious Hair, Brief Interviews With Hideous Men) as much, but I'm not much of a short story fan to begin with.

No comments:

Post a Comment