Both Flesh and Not: Essays
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Both Flesh and Not: Essays

3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  1,761 ratings  ·  277 reviews
Brilliant, dazzling, never-before-collected nonfiction writings by "one of America's most daring and talented writers." (Los Angeles Times Book Review).

Both Flesh and Not gathers fifteen of Wallace's seminal essays, all published in book form for the first time.

Never has Wallace's seemingly endless curiosity been more evident than in this compilation of work spanning nearl...more
Hardcover, 328 pages
Published November 6th 2012 by Little, Brown and Company (first published 2012)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
s.penkevich
Consider the B-sides

As often with posthumous collections, Both Flesh and Not suffers slightly from the fact that these essays were bound together for the simple reason of producing another book to fill the shelves and minds of DFW’s perfervid fans and readers. It was only fitting to release another collection of essays riding on the heels of D.T. Max’s biography of Wallace, and with his other posthumous work, The Pale King, having been nominated for the Pulitzer. While all of these essays are av...more
Jacob J.

I have a confession. Although of course* I didn’t want (or expect) to dislike this book, at all, I did want to be able to say something that proves I could be brusque with/critical of DFW just as easily as I could gush over/laud him. I wanted to be able to establish my Howling fandom by accentuating my knowledge of his prior collections, and concluding that this one doesn’t quite stack up. But alas, I cannot. Foster Wallace is as sublime as ever (realizing that these essays span many years of hi...more
B0nnie

Most of these essays are online. Some of the titles have been changed. Remember - too much reading on a computer leads to this sort of breakfast! Read the book.

Federer Both Flesh and Not
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/20/spo...

Fictional Futures and the Conspicuously Young
http://webcache.googleusercontent.com...

The Empty Plenum: David Markson’s Wittgenstein’s Mistress
http://www.theknowe.net/dfwfiles/pdfs...

Mr. Cogito (view spoiler)...more
MJ Nicholls
Not quite up there with ASFTINDA or CTL in terms of sheer stuck-to-the-chair-then-flung-off-the-same-chair-in-squeeing-delight pleasure factor, but BFAN is arguably a more eclectic collection than either, treating us to one courtside tennis feature, one neurotic backstage tennis featurette, an unsurpassable academic-and-not reading of Wittgenstein’s Mistress, a deliciously snotty horn-tooting “we’ve arrived, ma!” for his then-emerging fiction contemps, something vague and unappetising about AIDS...more
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis


[update: Howling Fantods has removed many links from their Uncollected DFW page, at the request of Karen and Little Brown. Those removed links are not limited to what is included in this collection.]



Distracted and Dystematic (as it were) Reviewerish Thoughts

We have here a partial collection of pieces by DFW yet uncollected and unbound. Unfortunate it is that a greater effort was not undertaken to assemble all or nearly all the unassembled essays and reviews, letters to editors, etc., because any...more
Juan
This is not DFW best non-fiction collection, but neither is it superfluous nor is it inferior.

There is quite a lot of literary criticism and non-fiction geared towards readers who arguably would be writers and therefore interested in these subjects. These pieces are:

Fictional Futures and the Conspicuously Young: on the effect of TV on young writers in the 80's. Young writers get divided into camps that now seem rather obvious and even dated as some no longer really exist: Workshop manufactured,...more
M. Sarki
http://msarki.tumblr.com/post/5677301...

Though obviously not the exciting essay collections of Consider the Lobster, or A Supposedly Fun Thing I Will Never Do Again, this collection suffices to satisfy my jones for more David Foster Wallace and relaxes my need for any more based on these basic retreads of pieces obviously not up to making the grade in his previous works. The two sport pieces, one on Federer and one about the U.S. Open, were both engaging to their core whether you happen to like...more
Hadrian
First, thanks to B0nnie, who has collected all of these essays in one convenient location. So get to it.

Nathan has already remarked on the incomplete and only too short nature of this collection, and its appeal to DFW Fans. To Newbies: buy the others first, then get this one.

Of course, since I already have the others, I'll probably buy this anyway. Damn.

Some of these pieces are just fantastic (Wittgenstein's Mistress, the word definitions, F/X Porn), some are too short, but mildly interesting, a...more
Paul Gleason
It didn't take me very long to get through DFW's posthumous collection because I'd read most of its essays before. But what's surprising is that I didn't need to reread the essays because I'd internalized them so much. This internalization speaks to the power of DFW's writing - for this reader, at least. I've said it before, and I'll probably say it again many times before I shake loose my mortal coil, but DFW's writing seems to be hardwired in my brain.

On to the collection . . .

Which is, as to...more
oriana
Sep 07, 2012 oriana marked it as to-read
Shelves: to-read-soon
just seeing the cover of a new DFW book turns me into an all-id slavering animal child—gimme gimme gimme gimme gimme gimme!!
Adam
To give you an idea of DFW's range and brilliance as an essayist:

this collection includes one of the best pieces of sportswriting I've come across, "Federer Both Flesh and Not." The Federer essay is perhaps one of DFW's finest essays overall, and doubles as an incredibly astute bit of aesthetic critique. It is the only thing I've been able to show people who just flat out don't get sports and have them see to some extent, at least, what can be so beautiful about sports.

this collection includes...more
Michael
As might be expected from a posthumous essay collection, this is a bit uneven. The title piece on Roger Federer is amazing, and several other pieces are quite good. But a couple of long pieces from the '80s and '90s were passed over for inclusion in prior collections, and it's apparent why. The one on Conspicuously Young writers rambles, is a kind of stiff, and its discussion of TV's influence on his generation is better fleshed out in "E Unibus Plurum." And his Tennis Magazine piece on commerce...more
Nick Black
my first checkout from the new york public library (*); i went semi-nuts in the fiction section, wondering how the hell i'd missed a DFW publication event, then got home and read it and was totally let down. about halfway through i grew suspicious, and checked the original publication venues for these essays. indeed, the majority are tiny genre rags, and one gets the feeling the David Foster Literary Trust selected titles for inclusion by minimizing copyright fees. the few gems originated in lar...more
Edward S. Portman
Era il 2008 quando David Foster Wallace decise di togliersi la vita. Nel 2013 sembra essere esplosa la mania di celebrare l’anniversario dei cinque anni di quel triste evento. In rapida successione sono usciti in Italia la biografica a cura di T. D. Max, la raccolta di Minimum Fax Un antidoto contro la solitudine, e questo Di carne e di nulla pubblicato da Einaudi e che fa da contraltare saggistico alla raccolta di racconti di qualche anno fa, sempre di Einaudi, Questa è l’acqua. Chiudendo magar...more
Lena
Reading this posthumously published collection of David Foster Wallace's previously-unpublished-in-book-form-essays stirred up a lot of emotion in me. Having loved his previous collections so much, I was thrilled to have another chance to spend time with him. And I had barely begun his first piece about tennis player Roger Federer's near mystical form before I was happily rewarded with his amazing ability to pull me into a subject I knew nothing about, infect me with his own fascination and wond...more
Sentimental Surrealist
There's nothing particularly wrong with the essays here themselves. Yes, the early ones sometimes take a know-it-all tone, but on a whole, they're well-written and make compelling arguments. So why only three stars? Because I just don't get the feeling that DFW would've had many of these published if he had lived a little longer. While each of these essays pulls a respectable showing, he only gets the magic working with the reverent, breathless "Federer Both Flesh and Not" (Wallace pole A) and t...more
Lisa
I’ve never read anything by David Foster Wallace, so I was quite pleased when Penguin sent me a collection of his essays entitled Both Flesh and Not. Wallace is the cult author of Infinite Jest (listed in 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die) and also an unfinished novel called The Pale King.

Of course, I was never going to read an essay about Terminator 2 (which is a film I’ve never seen) or the one about Roger Federer (who plays tennis) or about the US Open.

But impressed by this author’s re...more
Paolo Latini
Cercasi Erede Wallace Disperatamente

Ricordo ancora gli interminabili mesi vuoti che passavano tra una stagione di Lost e l’altra, e ancora sperimento quelli un po’ meno vuoti ma non meno interminabili che passano tra le stagioni di Dexter. Ricordo ancora, e ormai con il sollievo di averli passati indenne e la voglia di fargli una sonora pernacchia, gli infernali mesi che sono seguiti al giorno della mia laurea, e in quelli mi sentivo un po’ come Fantozzi che tornava al lavoro anche da pensionat...more
Nick Craske
Reading David Foster Wallace's 'literary nonfiction' always energises, reinvogrates and stimulates me on mutiple levels. This collection of writing is excellent. From grammatical pedantry to book reviews and a commisioned aftewards for an essay collection, DFW's writing voice is so sincere and has so much depth of character.

A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again is my favourite of DFW's literay nonfiction. I didn't feel as rewarded reading any of the Both Flesh and Not's writing as I did th...more
Jeremy
In some ways, publishing this wasn't fair. Wallace's other non-fiction collections were meticulously curated and show him working at a delirious, fevered intellectual pitch; they also tended to be pieces he had written over the course of a few years in the early 90's or early 2000's. The real problem with Both Flesh and Not is that it extends that chronology all the way back to the 1980's through 2007 with work that, while engaging and funny and often quite insightful, often lacks the really fl...more
John Spillane
It's been a while since I audiobooked the abridged version of Consider the Lobster, but of the three DFW essay collections that I'm aware of I enjoyed this one the most.

The Terminator bit is fun, and made me want to actually see the movie. I prefer DFW when he's rapping about something he is really interested in; book reviews or tennis, rather than when he's just sent to an event on assignment.
Joseph Michael Owens
This will potentially be the cure for my recent bout of severe ADD!!
Webster Bull
UPDATED REVIEW, now that I've finished:

We write about what we know, and we know that about which we care. To judge by the essays gathered posthumously in this presumably final collection of nonfiction by David Foster Wallace (1962–2008), the author of "Infinite Jest" cared about the following, and not necessarily in this order:

1. Tennis, especially tennis
2. Grammar
3. Philosophy, in particular that of Ludwig Wittgenstein
4. Contemporary (at the time) fiction
5. Movies, especially pop hits like “Ter...more
Dan
A lot of material has come out since DFWs death, an unfinished novel, this book of essays, a couple of collections of essays talking about Wallace (essentially working to canonize him), the long interview material from Lipsky and the bio by D.T. Max.

I’d like to think that much of this isn’t specifically a cash-grab or an attempt at canonization but I can’t be sure. Have I bought most of this stuff? Yes I have. Does that make me a sucker, an uber-fan, a fool? I don’t rightly know. I think that m...more
Alan Chen
I'm a DFWphile therefore my rating may be biased. While I don't believe this isn't his strongest work there are quite a few gems. The section where he discusses word usage is both practical and engaging. It definitely shows he is the son of his grammarian mother and passion for words. Each chapter begins with his personal list of words and definitions. While some words may seem pretty common, DFW highlights the less common uses for the words. His 2 page section on the many ways to say someone is...more
Lachlan
i mean, at this point it's incredibly likely that many of us have probably already hunted down and devoured at least half of the content that's actually going to be in this, but that's no reason to not get excited, right?
Calley
Jan 06, 2014 Calley rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2014
This collection of apparently random essays is obviously a marketing ploy to take advantage of a very niche market of DFW devotees and pretentious readers (and let's be honest, it takes quite a lot of pretension to read DFW). However, I am just such a one of those pretentious devotees, and I was quite pleased with this collection. It allowed me to read certain of his works that I otherwise wouldn't have known about and to which I otherwise might not have had access.

Some pieces were more engaging...more
Dave Mead
The running vocab list alone is worth the price of admission.
David
First time I've read anything by him. All I knew in advance was that he was a famous novelist (IIRC my older daughter is/was a fan of Infinite Jest) who committed suicide a few years ago.

Eclectic collection spanning many years and addressing word usage (sort of a personalized Strunk and White 2.0), math, literary criticism, tennis, liberal politics, prose poetry. Funny, hyper-literate, opinionated.

Some quirky stylistics such as the tremendous number of footnotes, in which he placed even not ver...more
Josh
There's a sad assumption of disposability about most contemporary nonfiction.

Think about the thousands of articles and essays that affect us readers such that we dog-ear them or clip out or stack bedside or inject into the Facebook bloodstream. Now think about how many you've actually gone back and reread. I'll bet a stack of silver dollars the percentage is vanishingly small.

For all the fever of the moment and certainty that THIS ONE is a keeper, the reality is that even the best nonfiction en...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
The Aspiring Poly...: Both Flesh and Not 2 21 Apr 09, 2013 02:43AM  
  • Conversations with David Foster Wallace (Literary Conversations)
  • Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace
  • Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace
  • Farther Away
  • The Fun Stuff: And Other Essays
  • Life Sentences: Literary Judgments and Accounts
  • Otherwise Known as the Human Condition: Selected Essays and Reviews
  • The Ecstasy of Influence: Nonfictions, Etc.
  • Waiting for the Barbarians: Essays from the Classics to Pop Culture
  • Living, Thinking, Looking: Essays
  • Elegant Complexity: A Study of David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest
  • Magic Hours: Essays on Creators and Creation
  • Pulphead
  • Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays
  • Understanding David Foster Wallace (Understanding Contemporary American Literature)
  • Through the Window: Seventeen Essays and a Short Story
  • Forty-one False Starts: Essays on Artists and Writers
  • Object Lessons: The Paris Review Presents the Art of the Short Story
4339
David Foster Wallace worked surprising turns on nearly everything: novels, journalism, vacation. His life was an information hunt, collecting hows and whys. "I received 500,000 discrete bits of information today," he once said, "of which maybe 25 are important. My job is to make some sense of it." He wanted to write "stuff about what it feels like to live. Instead of being a relief from what it fe...more
More about David Foster Wallace...
Infinite Jest Consider the Lobster and Other Essays A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again:  Essays and Arguments Brief Interviews with Hideous Men This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life

Share This Book

“I claim that the fact that we are strongly encouraged to identify with characters for whom death is not a significant creative possibly has real costs. We the audience, and individual you over there and me right here, lose any sense of eschatology, thus of teleology, and live in a moment that is, paradoxically, both emptied of intrinsic meaning or end and quite literally ETERNAL. If we're the only animals who know in advance we're going to die, we're also probably the only animals who would submit so cheerfully to the sustained denial of this undeniable and very important truth. The danger is that, as entertainment's denials of the truth get even more effective and pervasive and seductive, we will eventually forget what they're denials OF. This is scary. Because it seems transparent to me that, if we forget how to die, we're going to forget how to live.” 7 likes
“For reasons that are not well understood, war's codes are safer for most of us than love's.” 4 likes
More quotes…