Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Five days on the road with David Foster Wallace

"Wallace tapped into what Lipsky nicely calls the 'brain voice'—placing on the page in all its absurd detail what it feels like to live, to observe, to experience. In his most famous essay, 'A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again,' which first appeared in Harper’s in 1995, Wallace chronicles his time aboard a seven-day Caribbean cruise, beginning with 'the shattering, flatulence-of-the-gods sound' of the ship’s horn. Staff decline his morbid inquiries about his cabin’s superefficient vacuum toilet, which produces "a concussive suction so awesomely powerful that it’s both scary and strangely comforting—your waste seems less removed than hurled from you." He details the skilled, unobtrusive professionalism and extreme coolness of his Hungarian waiter, Tibor—'the Tibster'—and confesses, 'I sort of love him.' His elderly tablemates at tea dislike Wallace’s tuxedo T-shirt; formal attire is expected. The average young punk would smirk with self-satisfaction at such a gag, but what makes Wallace so loveable is that he is mortified to have given offense. He probably broke out sweating."

Michael O'Donnell reviews
Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself.

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