Infinite Jest ) might just be the smartest essayist writing today. His topics are various—this new collection treats porn, sports autobiog"/>

Consider the Lobster and Other Essays

David Foster Wallace, Author . Little, Brown $25.95 (343p) ISBN 978-0-316-15611-0

Novelist Wallace (Infinite Jest ) might just be the smartest essayist writing today. His topics are various—this new collection treats porn, sports autobiographies and the vagaries of English usage, among others—his perspective always slightly askew and his observations on point. Wallace is also frustrating to read. This arises from a few habits that have elevated him to the level of both cause célèbre and enfant terrible in the world of letters. For one thing, he uses abbrs. w/r/t just about everything without warning or, most of the time, context. For another, he inserts long footnotes and parenthetical asides that by all rights should be part of the main texts (N.B.: These usually occur in the middle of phrases, so that the reader cannot recall the context by the time the parentheses are wrapped up) but never are. These tricks are adequately postmodern (a term Wallace is intelligent enough to question) to prove his cleverness. But a writer this gifted doesn't need such cleverness. Wallace's words and ideas, as well as a wonderful sense of observation that makes even the most shopworn themes seem fresh, should suffice. Agent, Bonnie Nadell. (Dec. 12)

Reviewed on: 10/10/2005
Release date: 12/01/2005
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