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Quack This Way

4.23 of 5 stars 4.23  ·  rating details  ·  205 ratings  ·  44 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, 146 pages
Published October 14th 2013 by Penrose Pub
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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 Louisa rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2014
If you haven't read this and are a DFW fan who is interested in reading his advice about writing and all things wordy nerdy; this is definitely the book to pick up. So what are you waiting for? Get off your lazy ass and read it.

"When students start wanting to get better, they start realizing that really leaning how to write effectively is, in fact, probably more of a matter of spirit than it is of intellect. I think probably even of verbal facility."

"When students enter my classes, very often wh
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
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
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
Alan Chen
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
Zach Bumgardner
They read usage manuals in the bathroom just like the rest of us.
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
Kirby Gann
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
John Waller
The preface,which is the most important part of this book,shows the sign of the suicide.(through the signature)
Stephen Buggy

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.

Daniel Pellizzari
Bem divertido para quem se interessa pelo idioma mais excelente que há (a saber, o idioma do inglês).
Nick Craske
A satisfying and inspiring espresso shot of DFW.
Andrew Martin
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
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
E. C. Koch
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
Jason Miller
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
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
Aug 31, 2014 g0ldenboy 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
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
Joshua Arnett
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
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
Dec 16, 2014 Emre added it
A great interview for anybody who wants to be both a better writer and a better reader. David Foster Wallace is a very insightful teacher who highlights many crucial things about a reader. He talks about what readers expect in any given work of literature and he also points out many things about how the subconscious mind perceives the writing. He doesn't delve into the science of the mind to do this. He accomplishes this by revealing things about any reader's psyche.
Sean Brooks
Fascinating book if you already have an interest in language and writing. Even though this book is just an interview and insanely shorter than what I expected and wanted, and not meant to serve as a textbook, it makes you think about your own writing, and how it can improve. There's also some cool stuff about officialese, thoughts on how to write something that's alive and imperative, comments on word usage, and other interesting little tidbits. I've read it three times in the short time I've ha ...more
It's like the usage nerd's Watch the Throne. Most of the points in this book were addressed elsewhere, especially in Wallace's review of Garner's book that's repeatedly referenced in the interview. The introduction, in which Garner talks about Wallace as a friend, is the best part.
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
Anthony Connolly
A Writer's Kind of Party Talk

A Writer's Kind of Party Talk

A book for true writing geeks. I have found few writers and thinkers whose philosophies on the art form matched my own until DFW, and perhaps William Gass.
Richard Gilbert
Brilliant and inspiring about grammar and writing. Some of DFW's verbal tics ("Right?") might have been cut, but we're just lucky to have this transcript of a conversation between two men in this language league.
It's basically David Foster Wallace and Bryan A. Garner talking about grammar and writing. If that sounds like something you're interested in—or if you loved DFW's "Authority and Usage" in Consider the Lobster—then this book's probably for you. If not, I'd give this one a pass.

Me, I loved it.
Eric Mongold
Only for people who are either hardcore Wallace fans or very interested in varying types of usage in language. Fortunately I am both. :) This was an excellent read. Short, but great.
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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.” 67 likes
“Let me stop you. I don’t remember your entry on buried verbs. Is that what’s wrong?   BAG:   Yeah, I think they’re unduly abstract.   DFW:  But sometimes, obviously, if you’re referring to litigation, you’ve got to use the buried verb.   BAG:   Right, you can’t always say litigate.   DFW:  Then there’s always the—what do you call it?—buried nouns, like, “We need to dialogue about this,” “You gifted me with this,” which make my stomach hurt even more than the buried verbs. I guess those, a lot of those are more vogue words.   BAG:   Linguists call it functional shift, where you press a noun into service as a verb. Some kinds of functional shift are not so bothersome—using a noun as an adjective, “We’ve got a room problem here,” you know, that kind of thing.” 0 likes
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