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Quack This Way

4.24  ·  Rating Details ·  468 Ratings  ·  73 Reviews
Two friends, both of them vocational snoots, sat down to film an interview in February 2006. Their subjects: language and writing. The interviewee drove more than an hour, from Claremont to downtown Los Angeles. The interviewer flew from Dallas. They spoke on film for 67 minutes and then walked uphill to a nearby seafood restaurant, where they continued the running convers ...more
Paperback, 137 pages
Published October 14th 2013 by Penrose Pub
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Dec 17, 2013 karen rated it it was amazing
this book is the transcript of a video interview/conversation between david foster wallace and bryan a. garner that took place in 2006, several years after dfw wrote this amazing essay/review of bryan a. garner's Garner's Modern American Usage:

i was lucky enough to have attended a similar interview/conversation between dfw and george saunders many years ago, and this book reminded me just how good he was in this context, how simultaneously awkward and natu
Jul 18, 2014 Lee rated it it was amazing
For a transcript of an interview about English language usage and writing, this is about as entertaining and enlightening as a book of this sort could possibly be. Five LOLs and as many genuine insights into the language, usually occurring simultaneously. Filled with infectious DFW phrases -- "gooey-hearted humanists" who want to " vivify and facilitate . . . inter-human relationships of various sorts." Great bits about the religious aspects of art, clarity, efficiency, George W. Bush's solecism ...more
Jack Waters
Oct 25, 2013 Jack Waters rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2013
Bryan A. Garner’s Garner's Modern American Usage was reviewed in Harper’s by David Foster Wallace and an unlikely bond was formed, which led to things like DFW meeting an oppositely-political Justice Scalia of the Supreme Court as well as this book. The book is a transcription of more than an hour’s worth of video taken by BAG. He interviews DFW about language, grammar, usage, proper subjectivity of words, et cetera.

It’s a wonderful glimpse into the minds of two precocious SNOOTS. There’s plenty
Tony Reinke
May 11, 2016 Tony Reinke rated it really liked it
By the time I came to know and appreciate David Foster Wallace he was already dead by suicide, which really stinks because I now have so many questions for him about his life, his writings, his ideas, and I can only interact with his books (as I did in my book *The Joy Project*).

Thankfully, others did have time to talk at length with him including Bryan A. Garner, the lexicographer (think: *Garner’s Modern English Usage*). Their paths crossed after Wallace’s monster book review of Garner’s lexi
Oct 26, 2013 Bruce rated it it was amazing
I am a DF Wallace-alholic, so any book that promulgates David's wisdom is, to me, a must-read. This is a must-read.

Setting that aside, though, I would also consider this a must-read for anyone who wants to be an impactful writer. Dave's insights on what makes for effective writing are based on many years of his writing novels and nonfiction pieces that opened our minds in new ways, made us laugh, made is think, and sometimes scared us stiff. His key insight is one you have probably heard from hi
Zach Bumgardner
Nov 06, 2013 Zach Bumgardner rated it it was amazing
They read usage manuals in the bathroom just like the rest of us.
Mar 28, 2014 Josh rated it really liked it
This is probably the epitome of a pointless review. The essential idea behind a review is to encourage others to read or to avoid a book, and Quack This Way is one of those for-completists-only books impervious to reviews and ratings; i.e., if you're among the target market for this book, you're going to read it no matter what anyone says.

Just thought I'd get that out of the way.

Okay so yes, a whole cottage industry has formed around David Wallace, this void-filling proliferation of collected re
Alan Chen
Mar 26, 2014 Alan Chen rated it it was amazing
Dfw met Gardner when he was working on a story on American usage. Years later they did a short radio piece together discussing the same followed by a video taped interview by Gardner in 2006. This is a short read because the transcript is a conversation of 67 minutes with a short preface where Gardner relates the extent of their relationship. It's an interesting read for me being a fan of dfw and having read his other interviews to gain another facet of the man. dfw is a snoot, eh passionate abo ...more
Apr 21, 2015 Steve rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
At the bottom of page 4 in Quack This Way there is a link (see below) to an NPR interview hosted by one Judy Swallow and featuring guests David Foster Wallace and Bryan Garner. Wallace had written about as glowing a review about Garner's new Dictionary of Modern American Usage (now titled Garner's Modern American Usage) as any author could hope to receive, and this conversation was the first time the two men had met (if you call Wallace sitting in an Illinois studio and Garner on a long distance ...more
Kirby Gann
Nov 16, 2013 Kirby Gann rated it really liked it
Probably only for DFW freaks, and yet anyone interested in American usage will find much of interest here. Garner, author of Garner's Modern American Usage (which was the basis of the great essay on usage that appears in DFW's Consider the Lobster collection), became friends with Wallace after Wallace's essay appeared--they had the language-"snoot" quality in common. Quack This Way is a transcription of a long interview Garner made for part of his own research--evidently he teaches, or leads wor ...more
May 29, 2015 Spencer rated it it was amazing
A torturously brief exchange between two of the indisputably greatest logical and grammatical minds of our time. Delightful. Wish it was 100 times as long as it was. I think a further collaboration between these two would have been nothing short of magical. More detailed analysis to follow, but too excited to keep all this enthusiasm to myself. Loved it!
Jun 12, 2016 Tortla rated it really liked it
Some great bits about writing and usage and empathy. I don't always agree with DFW, and his verbosity can be tiresome (especially because it's so self-effacing), but he and Garner shared some great insights and quotable-quotes for word-nerds like me.
Sep 14, 2014 Don rated it really liked it
Good book to get from the library - probably not worth owning.
Nick Craske
Aug 10, 2014 Nick Craske rated it it was amazing
A satisfying and inspiring espresso shot of DFW.
Nov 27, 2014 dp rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, ebooks, 2014
Bem divertido para quem se interessa pelo idioma mais excelente que há (a saber, o idioma do inglês).
Mar 04, 2017 Matthew rated it it was amazing
The book in which Bryan Garner and David Foster Wallace speak is bound to be good. This is because David Foster Wallace was clearly a language aficionado, as Bryan Garner obviously is as well.

It's obvious that Wallace had a desire to represent the vivacity of the good English in his writing.

I think this book is a gem purely because it enlightens us about Wallace as a writer.

In a sense, anything produced by him is a prize. This book doesn't fail to deliver.
Jul 09, 2016 Don rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing
I don't know if there's much that's new here, but I always love listening to DFW. I especially appreciated his insights about writing. E.g., his own writing process: "My first draft usually approximates somebody in the midst of an epileptic seizure. It's usually about the second or third draft where I begin having any idea of actually what this thing is about. So my own way of doing it, it's not very economical in terms of time. It is just doing it over and over and over again and throwing stuff ...more
Jan 22, 2014 Lynn rated it it was amazing
This book, an interview of David Foster Wallace (DFW) by Bryan A. Garner (BAG), will not be of interest to everyone. But it will be to persons interested in the inner workings and subtleties of the English language: its grammar, vocabulary, idioms, and trends.

I've read all of DFW's books except the one on mathematics, which is out of my area of expertise, so over my head technically; and I love them all.

Furthermore, I use BAG's book Garner's Modern English Usage every day, and sometimes refer to
Feb 24, 2015 Danielle rated it it was amazing
This book was hard. I think reading David Foster Wallace is always hard, but this one was hard in a way I didn't expect it to be, especially given how quickly it moved. It's hard in the way that running downhill for a long time is hard: you don't realize how much you're working until afterward, when your joints swell up and you reach for the Advil...

I left teaching a year ago to work on a novel full time, and while there is no way I ever would have thought of everything Wallace had to say about
Dec 31, 2013 Miles rated it really liked it
Describing good writing practices, especially in a way that presents a palate of healthy linguistic standards without being overly dogmatic, is a very difficult thing to do. This book contains a highly accessible and conceptually rich set of insights shared between two men who obviously care very much about the stewardship of language and have taken great pains to study and appreciate its potentials and pitfalls. Discussing a range of topics from obscure grammatical points to broad attitudes abo ...more
Jul 24, 2014 ebabehh marked it as to-read
I've watched or listened to nearly all of DFW's online interviews. Per usual, this one, an extended and printed version of this snippet, is delightful and placating to those who feel akin to DFW and are yearning for more of his writing, a soothing voice from beyond. While most of his interviews include broader conversations about contemporary American life, this is particular to American English language, writing, and grammar. Nearly everything DFW says here is true, but maybe because it appears ...more
Stephen Buggy
Oct 06, 2014 Stephen Buggy rated it liked it

From the blurb:
"They [Garner and Wallace] liked each other, and they seemed to understand each other. The rest is history."

History? Seriously, this Wallace hagiography needs to stop. He was an extraordinarily gifted writer; some of his work is as good as writing ever gets; but he didn't spew holy wisdom out of his gob every time he spoke. Some of his stuff is just very good. (Some of it is even bad!) He was a mortal. People treating him as some sort of saint is corrosive towards his legacy.

Jason Miller
Sep 06, 2014 Jason Miller rated it it was amazing
I only know DFW through some of his shorter essays, his commencement speeches, and what others have written about him. I haven't read Infinite Jest yet, but it's in my iBook library. Pale King is in my Kindle library with about 100 pages of it read. A trade paperback of his book on infinity sits on my desk, waiting for me to pick it up again. I like the DFW I've read, and I really like the DFW as the person I've imagined him to be. But he's hard to read, and it's not hard for life to hit me with ...more
Jul 09, 2014 NYCman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You say you want to be a writer? Well, welcome to Delusion City, population: you and nearly everyone else. Unfortunately, not everyone has talent, had the opportunity to study writing and had their writing critically appraised by others. Most hopefuls engage in self-deception, believing that they have such a compelling and unique story to tell that the world is just waiting to hear it. They aren't. Not at all. But...if hopefuls and experienced writers alike want to further their understanding of ...more
Andrew Martin
Oct 10, 2014 Andrew Martin rated it really liked it
very enjoyable free-wheeling conversation with more than a touch of sadness, knowing what events would soon come to pass.

not buying DFW'S defense of economy of language as presented here, and I wish Garner had pushed him on it in the conversation. As presented here good usage & clarity of speech are virtues because they don't make the listener do extra cognitive work, which is very shaky ground for such a prescriptive stance.

the argument I wish/hoped he would make is that written language e
E. C. Koch
Aug 01, 2014 E. C. Koch rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was another interesting - if brief (I finished this in a few hours at work, and I'm a slow reader) - interview with DFW. Bryan Garner, you'll remember from Wallace's essay in Consider the Lobster, is the author of A Dictionary of Modern American Usage, and Quack this Way is the transcript of an hour-long filmed interview Garner conducted with Wallace in 2006. So what's great about this is that these two brilliant word savants geek-out with each other about words and language and dialects an ...more
Joshua Arnett
Jan 22, 2014 Joshua Arnett rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Soon every person who has a recorded conversation with DFW will transcribe it and get a University Press or print on demanded company to publish it, and as long as suckers like me (or in this case, my mother who sent me this for my birthday) shell out $18.95 for 123 pages with gigantic spacing and margins, the Wallace industry will continue chugging along.

That said, I enjoyed the conversation quite a bit, and Garner's introduction has some interesting facts like that Wallace met and found Anton
John Cooper
Mar 18, 2015 John Cooper rated it really liked it
Essential for fans of Bryan Gardner and near-essential for fans of David Wallace, Quack This Way is a short but fascinating transcript of a dialog about language and usage between two of the best modern practitioners. Gardner and Wallace became friendly after Wallace's essay "Tense Present," an extended essay and review of Gardner's Modern American Usage, was published in Harper's. Wallace's views on English and on the teaching of English to young writers, although expressed off the cuff, are co ...more
Jan 02, 2014 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013
Those who have read Wallace's essay on American grammar and usage in Consider the Lobster won't be at all surprised by anything in the content of this transcribed interview. But, Wallace fans will smile at being able to picture him in all of his awkward brilliance, engaging with and stealing the show from his interlocutor (Garner) all the while. Moreover, though this book is pricey for its slim length, all of its proceeds are donated to upkeep of Wallace's archives at the Ransom Center. In short ...more
Aug 29, 2014 j.r. rated it liked it
More in the nature of a Kindle Single, this short book is a transcription of an interview by Brian Garner, author/editor of "A Dictionary of Modern American Usage" and "Black's Law Dictionary," of his acquaintance, David Foster Wallace. Primarily recommended for fans of Wallace, it's a good companion to "Authority and American Usage" (Wallace's 62-page review of "A Dictionary of Modern American Usage") from Wallace's "Consider the Lobster and Other Essays", as well as to a recording of Wallace/G ...more
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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
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“If you spend enough time reading or writing, you find a voice, but you also find certain tastes. You find certain writers who when they write, it makes your own brain voice like a tuning fork, and you just resonate with them. And when that happens, reading those writers—not all of whom are modern . . . I mean, if you are willing to make allowances for the way English has changed, you can go way, way back with this— becomes a source of unbelievable joy. It’s like eating candy for the soul. So probably the smart thing to say is that lucky people develop a relationship with a certain kind of art that becomes spiritual, almost religious, and doesn’t mean, you know, church stuff, but it means you’re just never the same.” 168 likes
“Reading is a very strange thing. We get talked to about it and talk explicitly about it in first grade and second grade and third grade, and then it all devolves into interpretation. But if you think about what’s going on when you read, you’re processing information at an incredible rate.

One measure of how good the writing is is how little effort it requires for the reader to track what’s going on. For example, I am not an absolute believer in standard punctuation at all times, but one thing that’s often a big shock to my students is that punctuation isn’t merely a matter of pacing or how you would read something out loud. These marks are, in fact, cues to the reader for how very quickly to organize the various phrases and clauses of the sentence so the sentence as a whole makes sense.”
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