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Consider the lobster and other essays by…

Consider the lobster and other essays (original 2005; edition 2005)

by David Foster Wallace

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2,854552,034 (4.16)97
Title:Consider the lobster and other essays
Authors:David Foster Wallace
Info:New York : Little, Brown, 2005.
Collections:Have Read, Your library
Tags:non-fiction, essays, humor, journalism, read in 2013

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



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Showing 1-5 of 53 (next | show all)
4 stars, even though I didn't read 3 of the essays.

Rating per essay:

Big Red Son: 4*. Funny, informative and full of brilliant writing.

Certainly the End of Something or Other, One Would Sort of Have to Think: 3*. I liked the idea, but I'm not familiar with the works of Updike, Roth and the other guy.

Some Remarks on Kafka's Funniness from Which Probably Not Enough Has Been Removed 4*, close to 5*. It would've been a 5* if I actually read Kafka, which I guess is on me, and not on DFW. Explaining why his generation of college students don't appreciate the real message of Kafka's work is a difficult task, but it is beautifully done, with a haunting conclusion.

Authority and American Usage: Wasn't too interested in the subject, didn't read.

The View from Mrs. Thompson's: 3*. I liked the writing, and it was funny at times, but this article was truly written for Americans, and therefore I kind of felt left out.

How Tracy Austin Broke My Heart: 5*. Really eye-opening to me. Sports-stars clichés might actually be their true way of dealing with trouble, and their stupidity might actually be the brilliance required for greatness...

Up, Simba: I am interested in politics, but this is way back and times have changed. I didn't feel like reading about McCain and the whole campaign, though I have to say that the introduction to this essay was touching.

Consider the Lobster: 4*. This essay would've gotten 5* if DFW would've gotten into the moral stuff a bit earlier on. I do appreciate context, which is what the lengthy description of the Main Lobster Festival was, but I was slightly disappointed that the subject that I read the essay for was so short. However, it was utterly brilliant and so full of humble uncertainty, for which I simply have come to love DFW.

Joseph Frank's Dostoevsky: 5*. Now this is my kind of essay. Fully dedicated to possibly my favorite writer in the world, it made me want to read FMD even more. Definitely worth re-reading.

Host: Didn't read because it's didn't appeal to me, both due to the format and the fact that I couldn't find out what it was about..
  bartt95 | Apr 10, 2016 |
Very funny, wise, I've read it twice. Go for the essay on the Vegas Porn Convention, stay for the wonderful and hilariously funny writing. The "Snoot" grammar article is a MUST! ( )
  evamat72 | Mar 31, 2016 |
MY 100th BOOK of 2013!

This was my first attempt at reading David Foster Wallace, and I was definitely challenged. Some of these essays have a practically academic quality to them, with extremely complex sentence structures that take a lot of time to parse. Even on a topic that I love (grammar!) it could be a little, well, pleonastic (a word meaning "using more words than are necessary to convey meaning", which I learned from this book specifically, and which DRW ironically uses to criticize what he calls Academic English). For example:
But the really salient and ingenious features of A Dictionary of Modern English Usage involve issues of rhetoric and ideology and style, and it is impossible to describe why theseissues are important and why Garner's management of them borders on genius without talking about the historical context[FN1--18 lines long] in which ADMAU appears, and this context turns out to be a veritable hurricane of controversies involving everything from technical linguistics and public education to political ideology,[FN2--7 lines long] and these controversies take a certain amount of time to unpack before their relation to what makes Garner's dictionary so eminently worth your hard-earned reference-book dollar can even be established; and in fact there's no way even to begin the whole harrowing polymeric discussion without first taking a moment to establish and define the highly colloquial term SNOOT.
He could instead have said, "ADMAU is really great for a lot of reasons, some of which are extremely complicated to explain. But I'm going to try, and I want to start by defining for you the highly colloquial [a term which here means 'used only by me and my immediate family'] term SNOOT." But of course, he did not. And so I, despite apparently being a SNOOT of no small magnitude, found myself feeling like a kid in (literal) grammar school who thinks the clock has stopped and that recess will never, ever come.

None of this is to malign DFW's recommendation of [a:Bryan A. Garner|42877|Bryan A. Garner|https://www.goodreads.com/assets/nophoto/user/m_50x66-e89fc14c32a41c0eb4298dfafe929b65.png] and [b:A Dictionary of Modern English Usage|2337696|A Dictionary of Modern English Usage|Bryan A. Garner|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1327546107s/2337696.jpg|2344380], by the way; I wholeheartedly support (and revere) both.

I'm glad I read this book, though. In the course of writing this review I've even bumped my rating up from two to three stars. "Big Red Son" is a suitably salacious first-person look at the Annual AVN Awards [AVN = Adult Video News = porn], and "Up, Simba" is a surprisingly touching study of a critical week in McCain's 2000 presidential campaign.

And the essay "Consider the Lobster" -- well, I'll be frank: I'm not going to be eating lobster again for a long time, I don't think. Readers of Peter Singer won't be surprised, but I was. I didn't expect this long-winded, pleonastic (two points!) writer to be the first to make me seriously consider giving up meat, but he was. DFW somehow manages to be compelling, even if he takes twice as long to read as the next guy.

Finishers of [b:Infinite Jest|6759|Infinite Jest|David Foster Wallace|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1165604485s/6759.jpg|3271542], I salute you. ( )
  BraveNewBks | Mar 10, 2016 |
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 |
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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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