Monday, December 26, 2011

And Now A Word From David Foster Wallace

Part of a series of posts entitled And Now A Word From...

David Foster Wallace in an interview in Arrival:
I spent a lot of time as a volunteer in a nursing home in Amherst last summer.  I was reading Dante's Divine Comedy to an old man, Mr. Shulman. One day, I asked him where he was from. He said, "Just east of here, the Rockies." I said, "Mr. Shulman, the Rockies are west of here [Phoenix]." He did a voilà with his hands, and then said, "I move mountains." That stuck with me. Fiction either moves mountains or it's boring; it moves mountains or it sits on its ass.
This interview happened in 1987, nine years before Infinite Jest. I'm currently reading a upcoming collection of interviews with Wallace and this item just jumped off the page because I feel like it really captured where Wallace was with his writing at the time.  The Broom of the System had just been published and he wouldn't finish Girl with Curious Hair for another year.  Over his career Wallace steadily decreased the fireworks in his own writing in an effort to get at that capital-T Truth that "moves mountains," and I find it really interesting to think about how Wallace's concept about what it took move mountains changed over time.

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