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Both Flesh and Not by David Foster Wallace
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Both Flesh and Not (edition 2012)

by David Foster Wallace

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246746,727 (3.73)7
Member:lreinsma
Title:Both Flesh and Not
Authors:David Foster Wallace
Info:Hamish Hamilton Ltd (2012), Hardcover
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
Tags:non-fiction, essays, first edition, federer, wittgenstein, language, media

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Both Flesh and Not: Essays by David Foster Wallace

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Foster Wallace’s last essay collection is, of necessity, weaker than his previous two. Those had the luxury of cherry picking his finest work to the point at which they were published. Both Flesh And Not is therefore left to round up odd pieces and pieces published before his death. This means it’s far less even than its predecessors, things as brief and not particularly revelatory as ‘Mr Cogito’ and ‘Overlooked’ don’t add much insight to either the author or the wider world. But these are only slight works, bagatelles. Instead, when he has the space to dazzle we have the semi-eponymous essay about the beauty of Roger Federer’s tennis, one of his finest works, an essay on the first two Terminator films which explains a lot about the state of modern film making (even in the present day) and essays reviewing a Borges biography (which explains Borges’ greatness and the idiocy of much literary biography) and an introductory essay to the Best American Essays of 2007. What these have in common is showing off what made him a great modern essayist – a breadth of knowledge, sly humour and command of the English language few writers can parallel. Not a flawless collection then, but as what flaws there are arise from circumstance and editorial decisions they don’t reflect on the author. Banality there may be in places, but it’s far outweighed by the author’s typical casual brilliance. ( )
  JonArnold | Apr 16, 2014 |
I love DFW's prose. Is this the best DFW collection? No. Had I read some of these pieces before? Yep. Was it still a transcendent reading experience? Absolutely. Bonus points for his decision to take down critic/writer Bruce Bawer with whom I have a personal and philosophical dispute, but it would have been a 5 star read in any event. ( )
1 vote Narshkite | Nov 19, 2013 |
A lot of material has come out since DFWs death, an unfinished novel, this book of essays, a couple of collections of essays talking about Wallace (essentially working to canonize him), the long interview material from Lipsky and the bio by D.T. Max.

I’d like to think that much of this isn’t specifically a cash-grab or an attempt at canonization but I can’t be sure. Have I bought most of this stuff? Yes I have. Does that make me a sucker, an uber-fan, a fool? I don’t rightly know. I think that maybe I’ve bought all of these books so it feels like he’s still with us, that he didn’t do the bad thing in 2008. I have also found it much easier to read ancillary this stuff than the dwindling works of Wallace’s I’ve not yet read (Oblivion, mostly).

This collection here seems rather uneven, at times Wallace’s humor and brilliance is on full display while at others it can kind of feel like scraping the bottom of the barrel. The highlights for me were the title essay, the US Open piece and the piece on Terminator 2. While I really enjoyed 24 Word Notes it seems somewhat absurd that they were pulled from the Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus for printing here. Overall, I’m going to rate this collection somewhere in the 2.5-3 star range. I wish I could rate it higher, and I wish I wasn't able to see the end of Wallace’s oeuvre on the horizon.

I also kind of wish i didn't just use the word oeuvre. ( )
2 vote dtn620 | Sep 22, 2013 |
Though obviously not the exciting essay collections of Consider the Lobster, or A Supposedly Fun Thing I Will Never Do Again, this collection suffices to satisfy my jones for more David Foster Wallace. What I liked most about Wallace was his ability to make almost anything he wrote interesting and worth reading. I finished the book as if riding my bicycle with my back to a strong wind. I wrote more about this book and the future for more writings from David Foster Wallace and you may read it here:

http://mewlhouse.hubpages.com/hub/Ad-Infinitum-David-Foster-Wallace ( )
  MSarki | Apr 10, 2013 |
First, thanks to B0nnie, who has collected all of these essays in one convenient location. So get to it.

Nathan has already remarked on the incomplete and only too short nature of this collection, and its appeal to DFW Fans. To Newbies: buy the others first, then get this one.

Of course, since I already have the others, I'll probably buy this anyway. Damn.

Some of these pieces are just fantastic (Wittgenstein's Mistress, the word definitions, F/X Porn), some are too short, but mildly interesting, and some are big duds (AIDS, the second tennis piece).

His essays on writing itself are interesting (Nature of the Fun), as well as his book reviews. "Fictional Futures" is a chastisement of Bad Contemporary Writing, although it does spare a few kind words for Ozick, Franzen, and Vollmann. No doubt Bret Easton Ellis and company would never forgive him for being branded "Neiman-Marcus Nihilists".

This collection is fun, but only in bits. Read the others first. ( )
  HadriantheBlind | Mar 30, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316182370, Hardcover)

Brilliant, dazzling, never-before-collected nonfiction writings by "one of America's most daring and talented writers." (Los Angeles Times Book Review).

David Foster Wallace was beloved for his inimitable voice and wit-and, for many of his readers, admired as much for his astonishingly perceptive and inventive essays as he was for his fiction. Both Flesh and Not gathers fifteen of Wallace's seminal essays, all published in book form for the first time.

Never has Wallace's seemingly endless curiosity been more evident than in this compilation of work spanning nearly 20 years of writing. Here, Wallace turns his critical eye with equal enthusiasm toward Roger Federer and Jorge Luis Borges; Terminator 2 and The Best of the Prose Poem; the nature of being a fiction writer and the quandary of defining the essay; the best underappreciated novels and the English language's most irksome misused words; and much more.

In addition to these essays, Both Flesh and Not includes a selection from Wallace's personal vocabulary list, an assembly of unusual words and definitions that serve as a reminder of Wallace's ferocious love of language.

A sweeping, exhilarating collection of some of the author's most emotionally immediate work, Both Flesh and Not reminds us why A.O. Scott, writing in the New York Times, called David Foster Wallace "The best mind of his generation."

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:43:45 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

A compilation of fifteen of Wallace's seminal essays, all published in book form for the first time.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

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Penguin Australia

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