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Consider The Lobster: Essays and Arguments:…

Consider The Lobster: Essays and Arguments: And Other Essays (original 2005; edition 2007)

by David Foster Wallace

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Title:Consider The Lobster: Essays and Arguments: And Other Essays
Authors:David Foster Wallace
Info:Abacus (2007), Edition: New Ed, Paperback, 352 pages
Collections:Your library

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Consider the Lobster and Other Essays by David Foster Wallace (2005)



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You gotta love a writer whose footnotes have footnotes. I love how Wallace feels immeasurably brainy one moment and utterly down to earth the next, concerned with both the lofty and the mundane and treating them as equals. ( )
  karenchase | Aug 20, 2015 |
I don't know much about Kafka or Dostoyevsky. I found the American Usage book review stodgy in parts. But this is undeniably a phenomenal set of essays, with DFW showing he wasn't just one of the best authors of his generation, but an equally excellent journalist as well. His pieces on McCain, talk radio and the titular lobster are all masterpieces. ( )
  alexrichman | Mar 24, 2015 |
Consider the Lobster and Other Essays was an up and down experience for me. This was my first David Foster Wallace book, and it is undeniable that the guy was brilliant. I now know much better what a huge loss his death was. But some of these essays were much more my cuppa than others, and his love of footnotes baffles me.

The first essay is his exhausting examination of the Adult Video Awards show, and I couldn't wait for it to end. A tip of the hat for his taking on a subject not often intelligently examined, but the content for me alternated between disgusting and boring, and way too few of the multitudinous footnotes were amusing enough to justify the hard work of reading them. On the other hand, the next essay, ripping an Updike book titled Toward the End of Time, was concise, on target, insightful, and hilarious. For example, after "guessing" that for many oldsters "Updike's evection of the libidinous self appeared refreshing and even heroic", he explains that "today's sub-forties" in age:

"many of whom are, of course, the children of all the impassioned infidelities and divorces Updike wrote about so beautifully, and who got to watch all this brave new individualism and sexual freedom deteriorate into the joyless and anomic self-indulgence of the Me Generation . . . have very different horrors, prominent among which are anomie and solipsism, and a peculiarly American loneliness: the prospect of dying without even once having loved something more than oneself."

As you can see, he wasn't shy about making bold pronouncements, and they certainly are thought-provoking.

He got me again with his Kafka essay: "For me, a signal frustration in trying to read Kafka with college students is it is next to impossible to get them to see that Kafka is funny." Yes! Kafka is funny; you need to appreciate the absurdity of what you're reading, even when the content is pitch dark. And Wallace's insights into trying to teach Standard Written English to college students, described in an ostensible review of A Dictionary of Modern English Usage, are similarly both entertaining and convincing as to their accuracy. Another highlight for me was the title essay, which has him as Gourmet magazine's on-the-spot reporter for the annual Maine Lobster Festival who nonetheless is preoccupied with the question of whether it is "all right to boil a sentient creature alive just for our gustatory pleasure."

On the 2000 presidential campaign trail in another essay, he becomes a fan of John McCain as a person while denouncing his "scary" right wing policies. He brings us vividly into McCain's four year's of POW camp suffering, including McCain's refusal, despite his torment, to be preferentially released before other POWs because of family connections: "Think about how diametrically opposed to your own self interest getting knifed in the nuts and having fractures set without a general {anaesthetic} would be, and then about getting thrown in a cell to just lie there and hurt, which is what happened. He was mostly delirious with pain for weeks, and his weight dropped to 100 pounds, and the other POWs were sure he would die . . ." His experience gave McCain a "moral authority"other candidates lacked. McCain was admired by journalists, and many voters, not only for his frankness and honesty, but for being, unlike the other candidates, able to behave "somewhat in the ballpark of a real human being". In the end his extreme views and Bush's successful negative ad campaign likely doomed his political chances.

Bibiophiles will enjoy the essay on Dostoevsky, and Wallace's strongly stated belief that "many of the novelists of our own place and time look so thematically shallow and lightweight, so morally impoverished, in comparison to Gogol or Dostoyevsky." There's a lot to like in his essay on right wing radio host John Ziegler, too, although I was horrified to see the dreaded footnotes climb up into the text, with boxes and arrows. No!!

I was glad I read this for the ups, and for the appreciation I gained of how brilliant this guy was. That brilliance means I'll read more of his work. I can recommend this book strongly, with the caveat that, if you're like me, there are parts you're going to have to tolerate rather than appreciate. ( )
  jnwelch | Mar 4, 2015 |
This isn't a review of the essays, because they're obviously incredible, but just to say that I listened to this as an audio book on a long car ride and it was such a great experience. I definitely recommend it, whether you've already read this collection or not. I know audio books are a contentious method of "reading" but sometimes they're necessary. There's only so much radio you can listen to in one stretch. It was even read by David Foster Wallace, with a funny work around for the footnotes. He's always amazing, but getting to actually hear him read his work made it all the better. And it made a long, boring car ride much more interesting. So...just think about it. ( )
  cattylj | Feb 28, 2015 |
Questo è il primo testo di Wallace che mi capita tra le mani, scelto per le critiche positive e per il titolo. I saggi sono curiosi; alcuni fin troppo accurati nella loro ricerca e tendono a scadere nella pedanteria. Non si puo' negare una cura attentissima all'uso dei lemmi e delle costruzioni linguistiche - e la traduzione sembra aver assecondato le esigenze dell'autore. Lettura consigliatissima, laddove si sia disposti a saltare qualche pagina troppo tecnica - sopratutto nell'ultimo saggio. Il primo del libro, sul festival del cinema porno, rimane invece un must. ( )
  bobparr | Dec 14, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316013323, Paperback)

Do lobsters feel pain? Did Franz Kafka have a funny bone? What is John Updike's deal, anyway? And what happens when adult video starlets meet their fans in person? David Foster Wallace answers these questions and more in essays that are also enthralling narrative adventures. Whether covering the three-ring circus of a vicious presidential race, plunging into the wars between dictionary writers, or confronting the World's Largest Lobster Cooker at the annual Maine Lobster Festival, Wallace projects a quality of thought that is uniquely his and a voice as powerful and distinct as any in American letters.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:09 -0400)

For this collection, Wallace immerses himself in the three-ring circus that is the presidential race in order to document one of the most vicious campaigns in recent history. Later he strolls from booth to booth at a lobster festival in Maine and risks life and limb to get to the bottom of the lobster question. Then he wheedles his way into an L.A. radio studio, armed with tubs of chicken, to get the behind-the-scenes view of a conservative talk show featuring a host with an unnatural penchant for clothing that looks good only on the radio. Do lobsters feel pain? Did Franz Kafka have a sick sense of humor? What is John Updike's deal anyway? And who won the Adult Video News' Female Performer of the Year Award the same year Gwyneth Paltrow won her Oscar? Wallace answers these questions and more.--From publisher description."Long renowned as one of the smartest writers on the loose, David Foster Wallace reveals himself in Consider the Lobster to be also one of the funniest. In these pages he ranges far and farther in his search for the original, the curious, or the merely mystifying. His quest takes him into the three-ring circus of a presidential race to ask, among other urgent questions, why it is that the circles journalists walk in while whispering into their cell phones are always counterclockwise. He discovers the World's Largest Lobster Cooker at the Maine Lobster Festival and confronts the inevitable question just beyond the butter-or-cocktail-sauce quandary. He plunges into the wars among dictionary writers, deconstructing once and for all the battles between descriptivists and prescriptivists. And he talks his way into an LA radio studio, bearing buckets of fried chicken, to get an uncensored view of a conservative talk show and its alarmingly attired host."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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