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Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story: A Life of…

Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace (original 2012; edition 2012)

by D. T. Max

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3881727,669 (3.85)1 / 45
Title:Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace
Authors:D. T. Max
Info:Viking Adult (2012), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 368 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:biography, signed by author

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Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace by D.T. Max (Author) (2012)

Recently added byDecheverri, private library, jonwwil, Connie-D, Shoey, abrahamhyatt, Roseeroo, JSMill
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    Understanding David Foster Wallace (Understanding Contemporary American Literature) by Marshall Boswell (EnriqueFreeque)
    EnriqueFreeque: Digs deeper into DFWs writing, circa 1985-1999, published almost a decade before he died. Commentary of his career unshadowed by his suicide.

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  imjustmea | Jun 1, 2014 |
You close the book on this all-too-short and unfinished life and a small sound (a sigh?) escapes from you, regret, compassion, sorrow. Wisely, Max, the biographer stays in the background, offering information with virtually no superficial speculation so that an outline - perhaps a bit like one described in The Pale King emerges of David Foster Wallace, ghostly but possible to apprehend. I began my Wallace adventure with Oblivion, then read some of his essays in A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again (still haven't finished) then Infinite Jest and finally, I listened to The Broom of the System and when I picked up the biography I still knew virtually nothing about him, or rather, about all I knew was that he must have played tennis as a kid. What I couldn't grasp was how one person could have so much inside of him, so much to say, and so much of it so true. Infinite Jest in particular was so different from anything and so unexpected, how, in all that dense language and the shenanigans and commentary this tremendous sweetness hidden at the core. So now I have a better idea of where Wallace came from, what happened to him: how he could write about such a wide range of people and experiences. The biography is solid and unpretentious and Max does a careful job of linking some experiences with Wallace's writing but doesn't overdo it. Nor does he overdo or shy away from the extent of Wallace's emotional problems and the devastation these caused in his life. It's a balanced effort, making no pretension of figuring anything out and I appreciated that! **** ( )
4 vote sibyx | Apr 8, 2014 |
Concise, informed, non-judgmental, summarizes the reviews/reception of Wallace's work and touches on the issues it raises. Very well done. ( )
  Gerard670 | Nov 27, 2013 |
An exceptionally readable and interesting biography. Nothing earth-shattering here, but the personal truly illuminates the professional. A must-read for DFW groupies (a club to which I belong.) ( )
1 vote Narshkite | May 6, 2013 |
I'm not a great reader of biographies. I focus mainly on fiction. However, over the past year I've had a chance to read three biographies, and Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story was middle of the road among them. Of course I read this because of my love for David Foster Wallace, the man who with every written sentence simultaneously makes me want to strive to be a better writer, myself, and give up altogether. Confession: I still, to this day, have not finished Infinite Jest. The furthest (deepest?) I've ever gotten through is a couple hundred pages. But I've read just about everything else he's written. (Okay, haven't read The Pale King, but I'm not sure I want to read his unfinished final opus. Time will tell.)

So what can I say about D.T. Max's attempt to chronicle DFW's life? It was fair, I think. He seemed to try to emulate some of DFW's stylistic choices (starting the book with a self-referential post-modern sentence, frequent [and vigorous] use of end notes, etc.) while not emulating his actual style at all. The prose was simple, inelegant, efficient, standard. The complete opposite of DFW's prose. Yet, I wasn't looking for a DFW knock-off. I just wanted to read about the man's life. Max provided that.

I think he balanced inner struggles well with outward struggles. He moved through chapters at an even pace, mostly. (If there was one area where he lingered too long it was around DFW's agonizing "Westward" story, but in context, seeing as it was the precursor to IJ, I can see why Max choose to do that.) I appreciated that he didn't dwell too long on the depression. I certainly appreciated that the suicide (and surrounding medication lapses) occupied only the last 5 pages. Was there more to that episode? Bloody hell, I'm sure there was. But I didn't need any more than Max gave me. Heartbreaking as it was, I will be forever grateful to Max for keeping that concise.

Yes, I'm glad I read this, and I would recommend it to any DFW fan. If nothing else, you will come away knowing the difference between nauseous and nauseated.

P.S. I highlighted some of DFW's favorite reading that he said either influenced him or he really appreciated, listed below in roughly the order they appear in the book:

Donald Barthelme's "The Balloon"
Thomas Pynchon - The Crying of Lot 49
Frank Norris - McTeague
T.S. Eliot's "The Waste Land"
Jacques Derrida's essays: "The Double Session" and "Plato's Pharmacy"
Don Delillo - Ratner's Star
William Gass - Omensetter's Luck
John Barth - Lost in the Funhouse
Jonathan Franzen - The Twenty-Seventh City
William Gaddis - The Recognitions
William Vollmann - The Rainbow Stories
Mark Leyner - My Cousin, My Gastroenterologist
Jerzy Kosinski - Steps ( )
  invisiblelizard | Apr 6, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0670025925, Hardcover)

Visit Amazon's books blog, Omnivoracious.com, to read an exclusive essay from D.T. Max: "5 Things You Didn't Know About David Foster Wallace - But Should."

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:49 -0400)

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"The first biography of the renowned American author David Foster Wallace. Wallace was on of the most innovative and influential authors of the last twenty-five years. A writer whose distinctive style and example had a huge impact on the culture and helped give meaning to his generation in a disorienting, distressing time. In this first in-depth biography, journalist D.T. Max captures Wallace's compelling, turbulent life and times--his genius, his struggle to stay sane and happy in a difficult world, his anxiety and loneliness--as well as why he mattered as a writer and a human being"--… (more)

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