An Occasion in which I Give Away My Extra Copy of “Conversations with David Foster Wallace”

Blogger Here. So due to a shipping error, I ended up with two copies of both “Conversations with David Foster Wallace” and “Every Love Story is a Ghost Story.” I gave the extra copy of the biography to a coworker – my first “convert” to Wallace’s writing. Since my bookshelf only allows for one copy of each of Wallace’s books, I thought I would have my first ever give away here on Letters to DFW.

So if you would like a free copy of “Conversations with David Foster Wallace,” a collection of interviews with Wallace edited by Dr. Stephen Burn, here’s what you need to do:

1. Click on the “Subscribe” button on the home page. This will sign you up to receive email notifications whenever I post a new Letter (it will also give me your email address so that I can contact you if you are the winner). Don’t worry, I won’t spam you with Viagra ads and I wouldn’t know how to give your contact info to a third party if I wanted to.

2. In a Comment below, write your favorite DFW quote. It could be a line from your favorite book; it could be from one of his interviews; it could be something recorded in the biography. But his two most famous quotes, “This is Water” and “Fiction is about what it means to be a f***ing human being” are not allowed. The more obscure the better.

3. Next Monday (September 17) I will choose a winner. I will announce it here on Letters, and contact the winner via email to make arrangements for shipping the book to you.

No cost to you, other than your permission to send you email updates when I post each new Letter.

I look forward to reading lots of great quotes, so bring it on.


26 thoughts on “An Occasion in which I Give Away My Extra Copy of “Conversations with David Foster Wallace”

  1. “What if sometimes there is no choice about what to love? What if the temple comes to Mohammed? What if you just love? without deciding? You just do: you see her and in that instant are lost to sober account-keeping and cannot choose but to love?”-David Foster Wallace,Infinite Jest

  2. “If you are bored and disgusted by politics and don’t bother to vote, you are in effect voting for the entrenched Establishments of the two major parties, who please rest assured are not dumb, and who are keenly aware that it is in their interests to keep you disgusted and bored and cynical and to give you every possible psychological reason to stay at home doing one-hitters and watching MTV on primary day. By all means stay home if you want, but don’t bullshit yourself that you’re not voting. In reality, there is no such thing as not voting: you either vote by voting, or you vote by staying home and tacitly doubling the value of some Diehard’s vote.” – Up, Simba

  3. Damn, CK took mine! But here’s a short one that I used as my senior yearbook quote in high school, say what that will about me.

    From Infinite Jest, page 204, in one of my favorite sections: “That ‘acceptance’ is usually more a matter of fatigue than anything else.”

  4. “I miss Lenore, sometimes. I miss everyone. I can remember being young and feeling a thing and identifying it as homesickness, and then thinking well now that’s odd, isn’t it, because I was home, all the time. What on earth are we to make of that?”

    DFW, The Broom of the System, Abacus, London: 78.

  5. “Hal, who’s empty but not dumb, theorizes privately that what passes for hip cynical transcendence of sentiment is really some kind of fear of being really human, since to be really human (at least as he conceptualizes it) is probably to be unavoidably sentimental and naïve and goo-prone and generally pathetic, is to be in some basic interior way forever infantile, some sort of not-quite-right-looking infant dragging itself anaclitically around the map, with big wet eyes and froggy-soft skin, huge skull, gooey drool. One of the really American things about Hal, probably, is the way he despises what it is he’s really lonely for: this hideous internal self, incontinent of sentiment and need, that pules and writhes just under the hip empty mask, anhedonia.”

    If that’s too long, if you’re looking for pithy, then substitute this in for that: “It makes Nechtr feel special, true. But from special it’s not very far to Alone.”

  6. “….it seems like the big distinction between good art and so-so art lies somewhere in the art’s heart’s purpose, the agenda of the consciousness behind the text. It’s got something to do with love. With having the discipline to talk out of the part of yourself that can love instead of the part that just wants to be loved’.

  7. “I think you can see Cameron’s Terminator movies as a metaphor for all
    literary art after Roland Barthes, viz., the movies’ premise that the
    Cyberdyne NORAD computer becomes councsious of itself as *conscious*,
    as having interests and an agenda; the Cyberdyne becomes literally
    self-referential, and it’s no accident that the result of this is
    nuclear war, Armageddon.” – from the McCaffery interview

  8. “Although of course you end up becoming yourself”
    Not obscure, I know. But it makes me think in so many different directions and I can’t get it out of my head.

  9. “In reality, genuine epiphanies are extremely rare. In contemporary adult life maturation & acquiescence to reality are gradual processes. Modern usage usually deploys epiphany as a metaphor. It is usually only in dramatic representations, religious iconography, and the ‘magical thinking’ of children that insight is compressed to a sudden blinding flash.

    — David Foster Wallace, Brief Interviews With Hideous Men, 1999.

  10. Mine is the reply to Derek Kortepeter’s: ‘Then in such a case your temple is self and sentiment. Then in such an instance you are a fanatic of desire, a slave to your individual subjective narrow self’s sentiments; a citizen of nothing. You become a citizen of nothing. You are by yourself and alone, kneeling to yourself.’

  11. It’s a tie, between the less obscure:

    I have come gradually to understand that the liberal arts cliché about teaching you how to think is actually shorthand for a much deeper, more serious idea: learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. Because if you cannot exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed. (-This is Water)

    And the slightly more obscure, but still not obscure:

    “It may have been what in the old days was called a spiritual crisis,” he said. “It was just feeling as though every axiom of your life turned out to be false. And there was nothing, and you were nothing — it was all a delusion. But you were better than everyone else because you saw that it was a delusion, and yet you were worse because you couldn’t function.” (From the Rolling Stone article, The Lost Years & Last Days of David Foster Wallace)

  12. “Because we’re gonna get so interested in entertainment that we’re not gonna want to do the work that generates the income that buys the products that pays for the advertising that disseminates the entertainment. It just seems to me like it’s gonna be this very cool thing. Where the country could very well shut down and die, and it won’t be anybody else doin’ it to us, we will have done it to ourselves.”
    – DFW in Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself, p. 102

  13. Hard to pick just one, but this is great writing (and sentiment), from the conclusion to “Good People,” (and included in Section 6 of The Pale King): “There on the table, neither frozen nor yet moving, Lane Dean, Jr., sees all this, and is moved with pity, and also with something more, something without any name he knows, that is given to him in the form of a question that never once in all the long week’s thinking and division had even so much as occurred – why is he so sure he doesn’t love her? Why is one kind of love and different? What if he has no earthly idea what love is?”

  14. Wallace on Kafka (I never get tired of reading this):

    And it is this, I think, that makes Kafka’s wit inaccessible to children whom our culture has trained to see jokes as entertainment and entertainment as reassurance. It’s not that students don’t “get” Kafka’s humor but that we’ve taught them to see humor as something you get — the same way we’ve taught them that a self is something you just have. No wonder they cannot appreciate the really central Kafka joke — that the horrific struggle to establish a human self results in a self whose humanity is inseparable from that horrific struggle. That our endless and impossible journey toward home is in fact our home. It’s hard to put into words up at the blackboard, believe me. You can tell them that maybe it’s good they don’t “get” Kafka. You can ask them to imagine his art as a kind of door. To envision us readers coming up and pounding on this door, pounding and pounding, not just wanting admission but needing it, we don’t know what it is but we can feel it, this total desperation to enter, pounding and pushing and kicking, etc. That, finally, the door opens…and it opens outward: we’ve been inside what we wanted all along. Das ist komisch.

  15. Something humble, placid even, about inert feet under stall doors. The defecatory posture is an accepting posture, it occurs to him. Head down, elbows on knees, the fingers laced together between the knees. Some hunched timeless millennial type of waiting, almost religious.

  16. I have seen a toupee on a thirteen-year-old boy. . . . [17 pages later] A major advantage to writing some sort of article about an experience is that at grim junctures like this pre-embarkation blimp hangar you can distract yourself from what the experience feels like by focusing on what look like items of possible interest for the article. This is the occasion I first see the thirteen-year-old kid with the toupee. He’s slumped pre-adolescently in his chair with his feet up on some kind of rattan hamper while what I’ll bet is his mom talks at him nonstop; he is staring into whatever special distance people in areas of mass public stasis stare into. His toupee isn’t one of those horrible black shiny incongruous Howard Cosell toupees, but it’s not great either; it’s an unlikely orange-brown, and its texture is like one of those local-TV-anchorman toupees where it you tousled the hair it would get broken instead of mussed.
    –A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, 257, 274.

  17. As a grad student in Library and Information Science, I’m quite fond of this statement by Our Man: “Forget the idea that information is good. Only certain information is good.” The Pale King, page 321 (I think).

  18. “…talk out of the part of yourself that can love instead of the part that just wants to be loved.” – Larry McCaffery interview

  19. “As Of Yore” – Year of the Tucks Medicated Pad. Poor Yorick Entertainment Unlimited. Cosgrove Watt, Marlon Bain; 16/78 mm; 181 minutes; black and white/color; sound. A middle-aged tennis instructor, preparing to instruct his son in tennis, becomes intoxicated in the family’s garage and subjects his son to a rambling monologue while the son weeps and perspires. INTERLACE TELENT CARTRIDGE #357-16-09

    …my favorite of the James O. Incandenza canon

  20. The big question is whether the Bad Thing is on the planet
    Trillaphon. I don’t know if it is or not. Maybe it has a harder
    time in a thinner and less nutritious atmosphere. I certainly
    do, in some respects. Sometimes, when I don’t think about it,
    I think I have just totally escaped the Bad Thing, and that I am
    going to be able to lead a Normal and Productive Life as a
    lawyer or something here on the planet Trillaphon, once I get
    so I can read again.


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