Moira Russell’s Reviews > Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace > Status Update

Moira Russell
Moira Russell is on page 60 of 356
'a waitress's trip to the K-Mart telegraphed misery' ....nice classism there, bro. Also, I don't remember any goddamn K-Marts in Carver. Mason, maybe.
Sep 01, 2012 03:13PM
Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace

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Moira’s Previous Updates

Moira Russell
Moira Russell is on page 290 of 356
'(IJ) was their Catcher in the Rye, a catcher in the Rye for people who had read Catcher in the Rye in school' //rolls eyes forever
Sep 02, 2012 11:47AM
Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace


Moira Russell
Moira Russell is on page 255 of 356
'Michiko Kakutani chose to do unto Wallace as he had done unto Updike.' Heh.
Sep 02, 2012 10:51AM
Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace


Moira Russell
Moira Russell is on page 240 of 356
Well, and DTM thinks The Depressed Person is DFW's 'way of getting even with Wurtzel for treating him as a statue (or, she would say, refusing to have sex with him).' That's really terrible. I've never seen the story like that. I thought it was empathetic.
Sep 02, 2012 10:44AM
Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace


Moira Russell
Moira Russell is on page 221 of 356
'the link between a fragmented novel of fragmented souls and a cultural movement led by singers like Kurt Cobain of Nirvana characterized by a similar affect.' That just makes no sense. None. Is the link fragmented? Or the affect? Cobain? You mean the MOVEMENT has a similar affect of being 'fragmented.' Only you can't make grammar WORK.
Sep 02, 2012 09:29AM
Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace


Moira Russell
Moira Russell is on page 220 of 356
Let's rag on Elizabeth Wurtzel some more! It's only been 20 pages since we called her 'a breathing symbol of temptation, Salome' - God forbid she should be you know an actual PERSON, albeit a narcissistic and annoying one. NB Max isn't _daring_ to talk about Mary Karr that way, she'd clock him.
Sep 02, 2012 09:23AM
Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace


Moira Russell
Moira Russell is on page 220 of 356
'Wallace did not mention that his connection was from his recovery circle - he claimed to have met them at a "Mennonite church."' Really less than crazy about DFW cloaking AA in the guise of "church," altho I'm sure it tickled him at some level ("spirituality without religion," &c). I remember young hipster types being v puzzled at his apparent faith.
Sep 02, 2012 09:20AM
Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace


Moira Russell
Moira Russell is on page 220 of 356
FN: 'Younger readers had an easier time with Infinite Jest's structure' - this is one sentence before quoting Birkerts' laudatory Atlantic review at length. Yes, Birkets, that stripling of _forty-five_ when his review of IJ came out.
Sep 02, 2012 09:15AM
Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace


Moira Russell
Moira Russell is on page 220 of 356
'Jay McInerney reviewed the book for the NYT with little enthusiasm.' Hah, I remember that.
Sep 02, 2012 09:11AM
Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace


Moira Russell
Moira Russell is on page 215 of 356
'But the book also had the range to get beyond the much-trafficked literary realm of the literary young.' This is like reading freshman English papers, that's what it is. "From the dawn of time, there have been two contrasting society changes, one embodied forth in the Ten Commandments, the other shaped by the Hammurabi Code" - that kind of thing.
Sep 02, 2012 09:07AM
Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace


Moira Russell
Moira Russell is on page 215 of 356
'Wallace never forgot Blue Velvet and the skein that separates unremarkable from abnormal in America.' SKEIN. A skein doesn't separate anything! And unremarkable _what_? and I am fucking sparing y'all my rant on how he links Nirvana and Pearl Jam in the footnotes, be grateful
Sep 02, 2012 09:04AM
Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace


Comments (showing 1-8 of 8) (8 new)

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Nathan "N.R." Gaddis I thought that remark was a characterization of the Carver imitators, not Carver himself.


Moira Russell Nathan "N.R." wrote: "I thought that remark was a characterization of the Carver imitators, not Carver himself."

Whatever. The exact quote is "It was the world according to Raymond Carver, as interpreted by his thousands of descendants." 1) Thousands? 2) DTM doesn't specify anyone other than Carver - he mentions that the class DFW was in read McInerney and Ellis, but they're not minimalism. McInenery especially is not minimalism. And this was 1985 - there was DeLillo, Fowles, Irving, Cormac McCarthy, Winterson. Cathedral was 1983. Fires, where Carver published earlier drafts of stories Lish pared down, was 1983. Hell, Carver died in 1988. Arguably minimalism starts off with Stein and Hemingway, is at its best in Beckett and continues on with Yates through Ann Beattie. Fuck, you could call Chekhov a minimalist if you were in the mood. It's just really sloppy. ("Thousands.")


Nathan "N.R." Gaddis Moira wrote: "Nathan "N.R." wrote: "I thought that remark was a characterization of the Carver imitators, not Carver himself."

Whatever. The exact quote is "It was the world according to Raymond Carver, as inte..."


See, that's a huge blind-spot in my literary knowledge. I've not even read Carver. Only some Ellis and DeLillo (one Fowles, maybe). I've often tried to use "minimalism" in regard to length, D. Barthelme being my touchstone. But clearly, minimalism is also used in reference to a minimalistic style. So this portion of the literary wars was outside my own ken.

But I take your annoyance at Max as correct. Only to say that he is not writing the scholarly biography one might expect to be written 50 years from now. I'm trying to sort through my expectations for what is possible in these horrible circumstances.


Moira Russell Nathan "N.R." wrote: "See, that's a huge blind-spot in my literary knowledge. I've not even read Carver. Only some Ellis and DeLillo (one Fowles, maybe). I've often tried to use "minimalism" in regard to length, D. Barthelme being my touchstone. But clearly, minimalism is also used in reference to a minimalistic style. So this portion of the literary wars was outside my own ken.

I think when people use 'minimalism' wrt Ellis and McI it's their first novels - and with McI it's this bravura performance in the second person, which, yeah, a lot of eighties stories took place in the second person first tense, but I think they were all after his novel took off. Certainly neither of them stayed minimalist - look at Ellis. Jamowitz didn't really either. Usually when people say 'minimalist' they mean Carver. Except Beattie was publishing in the New Yorker in the mid-70s (and I don't think they ever took a Carver story during his lifetime). Carver was an entirely different literary sensibility, out of grad school - he got into Esquire as a market because he knew Lish from university. The poor people in his stories are poor the way grad students are poor. Bobbie Ann Mason published In Country in 1985, but does anyone ever talk about that novel as a cornerstone of minimalism? No, because it's about a GURL who lives in rural Kentucky. Bah. (She sold her first story to the NYorker in 1980, I think.)

I wouldn't personally call Donald Barthelme (whom I don't like that much) 'minimalist' - he's compact, sure, but stuff like Snow White is really surreal. His bros Steven and Frederick Barthelme, sure, maybe, except I haven't ever really read them (never met anyone else who has, either).

(cont NEXT ROCK because this is way too fucking long already)


Moira Russell Bios:

Only to say that he is not writing the scholarly biography one might expect to be written 50 years from now."

//shrug I'm very familiar with the genre of modern biography (as opposed to the Lives-of-the-Poets or Victorian or Strachey-an genres). Typically there are three kinds:

1) the partial biography, or memoir, written by a member of the family or very close friend, shortly after the subject's death. Examples: Turnbull's book on Fitzgerald, Nowell's book on Wolfe (and her edition of his letters), Patchett's memoir about Lucy Grealy, Plante's memoir of Rhys, &c &c. These generally have the benefit of personal knowledge, but they're often too censored because people are still living or the writer doesn't have access to papers or indeed isn't a scholarly-type writer.

2) the first full biography. This is usually a number of years after the subject's death, and the writer may have access to papers, &c., and it's usually the premiere scholarly work. Quentin Bell's biography of Woolf is a pretty good example of this, even tho he was her nephew; published in 1972, over thirty years after her death, with full access to her papers.

3) the first good bio is usually followed by a flood stream or trickle of greater or lesser bios - depending on how famous the author is, how marketable the topics are, &c. Then the definitive bio comes along: Lee on Woolf, Thurman on Dinesen and Colette, Ellmann on Joyce, Holroyd on Strachey, Graves (another relative) on Graves, Middlebrook on Sexton and Plath, &c &c.

So DTM is pretty squarely in the first slot, yeah - DFW just died, they're pretty much contemporaries, he had access to DFW's family and widow and friends, a lot of correspondence, &c. And as you say, it's not scholarly. But I don't think a book has to be scholarly in order to just be accurate - "thousands" is a really odd word choice there. Either he's trying to be all DFW-ish and cute, in which case it should have been edited out, or he's....exaggerating, I don't even fucking know.

There have been enough references to 'Carver and minimalism' and 'the brat pack of Ellis and McInenery' that make me think he's pretty much just parroting very received ideas about the literary scene in the eighties that are just wrong. In 85, Lorrie Moore was already combining minimalism with experiments in form and a really distinctive narrative voice. Iris Murdoch was publishing. Italo Calvino. Julian Barnes. Eco. Marguerite Duras (now, if you want to talk minimalism....). Hell, Louise Erdrich was just getting started. And this is all stuff friends of mine and I were reading at the time - we were passing around Calvino freshman year in college, and Handmaid's Tale was really popular. So this whole "everyone was in thrall to the blue-collar K-mart misery of Carver's thousand disciples" bullshit is -- just that. And yeah, admittedly, some of that is specialized knowledge, but just repeating "brat pack Ellis Janowitz" is really stupid.


message 6: by JSA (new) - added it

JSA Lowe ....hm, and the K-Mart sounds like grit-lit more than minimalism? Bravura thread, by the way, all dead-on as far as I see. Barthelme/s definitely not minimalistic; seriously apeshit surreal Euroflecked postmodernity. Only I do fear that Carver MAY have had a thousand disciples. Only just most of them teach in land-grant/ag/community colleges in the midwest and haven't published enough to bother us....(just from what I hear though I'm totes with you on the received ideas and the parrotting, sigh) (I mean, this is what we get from someone who's au fond not a scholar or a critic or hell even a literary essayist) (NOT to be snobby about education, but you need to get some, somehow, in this case, to be a literary biographer)

//burns this comment lest Mr. Max find it and be devastated//


Moira Russell J.S.A. wrote: "...hm, and the K-Mart sounds like grit-lit more than minimalism?

Did you read that Carver bio - the most recent one, which I actually didn't like a whole lot - where a student of his talks about how he had shot up heroin with a lot of construction workers and they didn't sound at all like the people in Carver's stories? Heh.

(But I mean, at least that WAS a biography. I mean, at least it was a book - it had this shape and sequence and everything. It wasn't you know a bunch of note-cards strung together. Never getting over that one. Ever.)

Bravura thread, by the way, all dead-on as far as I see.

Praise from Caesar! //bows

Only I do fear that Carver MAY have had a thousand disciples. Only just most of them teach in land-grant/ag/community colleges in the midwest and haven't published enough to bother us

HAAAAAAH PROBABLY YES. I mean, sure, suddenly Carver was The American Chekhov and all that (what the shit), and was wildly popular and winning awards, but it's not like he was the only writer in America.

(NOT to be snobby about education, but you need to get some, somehow, in this case, to be a literary biographer)

NOTECARDS
STRUNG TOGETHER
YOU KNOW, LIKE RICHARD ELLMANN


message 8: by JSA (new) - added it

JSA Lowe NOTECARDS
STRUNG TOGETHER
YOU KNOW, LIKE RICHARD ELLMANN


Ah, it's like a poem—


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