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Consider the Lobster and Other Essays

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  34,122 ratings  ·  2,601 reviews
Do lobsters feel pain? Did Franz Kafka have a funny bone? What is John Updike's deal, anyway? And what happens when adult video starlets meet their fans in person? David Foster Wallace answers these questions and more in essays that are also enthralling narrative adventures. Whether covering the three-ring circus of a vicious presidential race, plunging into the wars betwe ...more
Hardcover, 343 pages
Published December 13th 2005 by Little, Brown and Company
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François Boucher Yes: I read the Lobster on Kindle. The more recent Notes system on Kindle works very well. The footnotes are easy to access, and also to leave and…moreYes: I read the Lobster on Kindle. The more recent Notes system on Kindle works very well. The footnotes are easy to access, and also to leave and come back to the text by clicking "back to text". The sub-footnotes are included in the footnotes, and it works very well.
I am not aware of any "arrows", and that may be because "Host" is not iocluded in the Kindle cersion…(less)

Community Reviews

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4.25  · 
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 ·  34,122 ratings  ·  2,601 reviews

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Jan 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2007
Full disclosure: I have a major intellectual crush on David Foster Wallace. Yes, yes, I know all about his weaknesses - the digressions, the rampant footnote abuse, the flaunting of his amazing erudition, the mess that is 'Infinite Jest'. I know all this, and I don't care. Because when he is in top form, there's nobody else I would rather read. The man is hilarious; I think he's a mensch, and I don't believe he parades his erudition just to prove how smart he is. I think he can't help himself - ...more
Riku Sayuj

Consider The Essay

This is a fine collection of essays. It does not seem to be put together following any particular collective logic, but all the essays seem to be good advertisements to DFW’s intuitively imaginative, explorative and curious writing method. Would need to read more of DFW’s essays to be able to comment on the logic of this particular set of essays inhabiting the same book. It is, however, vintage DFW and hence cannot be rated below 5 stars, even if a couple of essays were so-so.
Sep 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: americana, saggistica
Nel 1966 i Doors debuttarono con il disco omonimo.
Un capolavoro. Undici canzoni indimenticabili. Eterne, semplici e raffinate, banali e rivoluzionarie.
Usavano motivi latini (bossanova) e soul, ma poi anche Brecht & Weil, non usavano il basso, almeno in concerto, e a coronare tutto c'era lui, Jim Morrison, insuperabile rettile e crooner.
Fu una rivoluzione.
Tuttora, il disco è fantastico, attualissimo e per tanti versi, ancora anticipatore.

DFW mi ci ha fatto
Nov 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
What can I say? Another brilliant set of essays.

1. Big Red Son - at the AVN (Adult Video News) Awards. An insightful and amusing look at the porn industry.
For a regular civilian male, hanging out in a hotel suite with porn starlets is a tense and emotionally convolved affair. There is, first, the matter of having seen the various intimate activities and anatomical parts of these starlets in videos heretofore and thus (weirdly) feeling shy about meeting them. But there is also a complex erotic t
MJ Nicholls
May 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, merkins
Outstanding. The closest one can get to triple penetration in essay form.

Each one is a stunner, from the grotesquerie of the Adult Video Awards in ‘Big Red Son,’ the magniloquent ass-handing of John Updike, the sublime pedantry of the modern classic ‘Authority and American Usage,’ the obsessive campaign chronicling of ‘Up, Simba,’ to the staggeringly researched meta-bubbling John Ziegler profile ‘Host.’

All the essays succeed at tying razor-sharp exegeses of American culture to a holy clarity of
Dec 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Consider the Lobster was an admirably consistent—and frequently entertaining—collection of essays by DFW. In my opinion, it was actually even stronger than his A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, which was itself certainly no slouch. Thoughts on and ratings for the individual essays can be found below.

“Big Red Son”: 4.5 stars. This essay on the porn industry was peppered liberally with humorous observations and intelligent insights, but really, that industry is so monumentally absurd, th
Dec 31, 2016 marked it as on-hold-for-now  ·  review of another edition
A reading inspired by Ian, who is presently traipsing across Portugal (whatever, I'm not jealous), because, Lord Byron, I presume.

This is my first foray into the works of DFW. It's unclear at this time if I'll read this in one sitting or at random, notwithstanding, my intent is to review each essay as a standalone.

Big Red Son

Big Red Son is the first of nine essays. What possible contrasts can be drawn between auto-castration, the Hollywood film industry with it's less celebrated but more lucra
Jan 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book reminds me why I love DFW. The erudition, humility, self-consciousness, and truth-seeking are all on fine display here, as is the extremely personal nature of his prose. He's constantly revealing himself while writing about others, even when such revelations are less than flattering, and is openly unsure about the worthiness of such self-revelation, and is also unsure whether this very open unsureness about the worthiness of his self-revelation is itself another layer of unworthy self- ...more
Michael Finocchiaro
This is an interesting collection of unrelated essays by the late David Foster Wallace. The funniest one for me was the title essay. No one could match him for wit and manipulation of language as this book attests. There are some essays though which are nearly unreadable like the one about a dictionary. Once you have read Infinite Jest and Pale King and wish to read a bit of his non-fiction, this one or Something Supposedly Fun that I'll Never Try Again would be a nice place to start.
Khashayar Mohammadi
What a trip! DFW's fractured narrative feels more like a genuine conversation than anything else. The essays are insightful and thought provoking; but I feel they are aimed mostly at an American audience. I loved DFW's writing, especially the last piece where endnotes were boxed-in and merged with the body of essay itself; but asides from a chapter or two, a big bulk of the content was socio-political issues that hardly matter to a non-American.
Books Ring Mah Bell
Feb 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
Do you know that feeling of falling in love so hard and so fast that your head spins? That feeling that your sweetie is AMAZING, PERFECT, and you have no idea how you ever lived without them? The sun rises and sets with each breath they take??
Sorry about your luck.

The first DFW book I read was A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again and I was instantly smitten. Totally in love.
And then I read this.

That AMAZING, PERFECT love? I feel like I have just busted him mid-nose pick. Knuckle deep
Evi *
Un saggio e sono poco usa a leggere saggi.
Complicata cerebrale meravigliosa mente geniale di Wallace che solleva i coperchi che coprono di banalità e superficialità il modo in cui recepiamo i fenomeni: che sia l’ultimo pensiero che attraversa il nervoso carapace dell’aragosta prima di essere buttata nella pentola bollente alla fiera dell’astice nel Maine, o l’autocontrollo richiesto ad un campione di tennis nei secondi che precedono la battuta del suo probabile match-point o ancora le dinamiche
Moira Russell
(Ceci n'est pas une review, but I'm getting tired of just rating and adding status updates)

Thought maybe this was worth 4.7666666666666665 stars, but what the hell, there isn't going to be any more, so....'Up, Simba' wrestles in my affections with the cruise ship essay, it's that good. Big Red Son, Tracy Austin, lobsters, Dostoevsky, Kafka, 9/11, gutting Updike, all amazing....the _one_ thing I don't like is the Host essay, which seems a little long and (gasp) pointless, altho with a stunning co
Dave Russell
Nov 10, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: essays, nonfiction
There's a small theme running through some of these essays(1): People trying to bridge the gap between two different camps. In "Authority and American Usage" DFW praises Garner for bridging the gap between the Prescriptionist and the Descriptionist usage experts. In "Joseph Frank's Dostoevsky" Frank impresses DFW by weaving together two rival approaches to literary criticism. "Up, Simba" is an encomium to John McCain's ability to appeal to Young Voters (presumably of all political stripes(2).)

Apr 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
A Democratic Spirit is one that combines rigor and humility, ie, passionate conviction plus a sedulous respect for the convictions of others. As any American knows, this is a difficult spirit to cultivate and maintain, particularly when it comes to issues you feel strongly about. Equally tough is a DS’s criterion of 100 percent intellectual integrity – you have to be willing to look honestly at yourself and at your motives for believing what you believe, and to do it more or less continually.

Sep 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Oriana by: um, everyone?
Shelves: read-2010, read-2009
I don't have anything to say that hasn't already been said. DFW is/was amazing, brilliant, and it is so devastating that he won't spend the next several decades casting his genius out to us in small sips, book by book by book. One of my favorite things about reading what I consider to be DFW's best writing is the sheer grace of his phrasing, the joy of getting sucked right in and through paragraph after paragraph of the longest, most convoluted-seeming sentences which nonetheless pull you along ...more
Jan 31, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: essays
I didn't know much about David Foster Wallace when I cracked open this collection of his essays, so the first piece on the Adult Video News Awards caught me rather by surprise. Within just a few paragraphs, however, the sheer and utter brilliance of this fascinating and yet also erudite and intellectual examination of the porn industry left me with little doubt that DFW's reputation as one of the smartest and funniest writers of my lifetime is well-deserved.

Prior to this book, if you had told me
Jackie "the Librarian"
Dec 01, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
David Foster Wallace is a self-described SNOOT, the sort of person "who watched The Story of English on PBS (twice) and read Safire's column with their half-caff every Sunday." So, he's a bit of a know-it-all, and if you're like me, you'll feel like you're out of your league trying to keep up with him when it comes to grammar and all things English.

But that's okay, because he's also witty and self-deprecating, and interested in not just English usage (thank goodness!), but also politics, lobste
Jun 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ken-ichi by: Akemi
Shelves: snoot, learning
"A strange and traumatic experience," David Foster Wallace wrote in an essay on attending the Annual Adult Video News Awards, "which one of yr. corrs. will not even try to describe consists of standing at a men's room urinal between professional woodmen [male porn stars] Alex Sanders and Dave Hardman. Suffice it to say that the urge to look over/down at their penises is powerful and the motives behind this urge so complex as to cause anuresis (which in turn ups the trauma)." Aside from hinting a ...more
Pierre Menard
Mar 29, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Matteo Renzi's supporters
Riprovo, dopo la disastrosa lettura di Tutto, e di più: storia compatta dell'Infinito, con un saggio di DFW tra i più acclamati, complice il GdL saggistica del gruppo di GR Italia. “Considera l’aragosta” è una raccolta di 10 saggi scritti tra il 1998 e il 2004, equamente divisi tra lingua inglese e letteratura (5 saggi) e politica, società e cultura (altri 5). Gli argomenti dei singoli saggi sono piuttosto eterogenei, in omaggio alla pretesa, per quanto molto ben dissimulata, expertise di tuttol ...more
Nov 13, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: DFW fans; modern Americans
Recommended to Rob by: Sue; Adam
Shelves: 2008
I would suggest, dear reader, that when considering Consider the Lobster, that you consider it in the same light as David Foster Wallace's collection A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again . Use that book as your frame of reference for style and content and you can place this collection firmly into the category of "typical" DFW. That being said, if you thoroughly enjoyed A Supposedly Fun Thing... then you'll likely thoroughly enjoy this one as well; by that same coin, if you're on the fence ...more
Sep 14, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I just finished reading Consider the Lobster by David Foster Wallace. What I'm left with is an absolute amazement at the immense amounts of knowledge related in the essays. It's like DFW had - or did enough research - to fill a set of encyclopedias on each topic, and then whittled it down to the presented short-storyish length.

In "Big Red Son", an essay about the Annual AVN Awards (that's Adult Video News, by the way) I learned more about the adult entertainment industry than I ever thought poss
Feb 15, 2012 rated it really liked it

So let's get this out of the way: intellectually Wallace trounces Klosterman and Gladwell and still has more than enough left over to bounce David Brooks or any other pop-essayist du jour.

This collection is actually better, more substantial, than the essays in "A Supposedly Fun Thing..." It's nothing I can exactly single out, except that this group of essays came across as more polished, professional, but no less amusing and illuminating. In the course of reading these, I've had the pleasure of
Aug 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
ATTENZIONE. Questa non è una recensione, ma solo la storia di un incontro.

Accade questo. Un mio collega di Spazinclusi, nonché amico, Marco Simeoni, mi dice: «Ti presenterei Wallace, se tu fossi disposta a incontrarlo… a te piace Kafka e, sai, lui ha scritto un saggio proprio su Franz … sarei curioso di sapere cosa ne pensi.»
Rispondo io: «Introducimi Wallace, lo conosco ben volentieri!»
Così avviene il mio primo, e, a oggi, unico, ma non per molto, incontro con David Foster Wallace. Lui si presen
Leo Robertson
Jul 05, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewtastic
Not his best for the following reasons:

1. We know what we know now of how his life was cut short. So why the hell did someone, in retrospect, choose to send the great American writer to a bloody lobster festival? To a pornography awards show? At any rate, all this ended up revealing was that DFW was the real world Buzz Killington- he starts his porn award article with genital mutilation statistics, and implores of the readers of some gourmet food magazine to consider the pain and suffering of no
Mar 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I must confess that I am not one of the cult of DFW followers that wallow in his genius ramblings; I honestly appreciated, though did not love, his (universally acknowledged) masterpiece: "Infinite Jest"; despite its raw humor, it rambled and meandered WAY too much for me to get a feel for his true storytelling talent. It seemed almost as if he was using his (arguably infinite, or at least infinitely superior to my) intelligence to slap the reader insensate. (Part of this feeling was no doubt du ...more
Jun 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
First a declaration of interest: anything by Wallace gets a 5 star review from me.

David Foster Wallace was a truly a literary virtuoso – talent on a stick - with a style indebted to Mark Twain, seen as a major influence on his work.

I read the book a few years ago but have splashed out to get the Audible app so I could listen to this collection of essays narrated by the author himself – a marvellous gift from beyond the grave made possible by modern technology, though a poignant experience too.

Maria Beltrami
Credo di aver goduto poche volte nella mia vita come durante la lettura di Considera l'aragosta, e mai leggendo una raccolta di saggi.
David Foster Wallace è intelligente, brillante, divertente, acuto, gigione, abilissimo in quel gioco delle tre carte che è una scrittura che incolla il lettore alla pagina.
Nonostante i saggi che compongono la raccolta siano un po' datati, le conclusioni che trae e la sua capacità di tenere il lettore per mano anche quando lo spedisce su quelle piste di caccia che
Feb 20, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2010, true-story
What I look for in a David Foster Wallace book is not so much his much-talked about brilliance, but his humanity. Under the verbal and visual tricks, there was a sensitive man who thought and felt deeply about everything he experienced. He was not what I expected from a "post-postmodern writer," which is to say that he was earnest and genuinely funny, and his writing style seems to be an organic representation of how his brain works, rather than something consciously literary. Reading him feels ...more
Robledo Cabral
Dec 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
O que há de mais estimulante em ler David Foster Wallace é, sem dúvida alguma, o fato de que estamos diante de um escritor com um projeto literário muito, muito claramente articulado. Não restam dúvidas de que, na prosa de DFW, vibra aquele que talvez seja o traço mais eloquente da literatura contemporânea (sobretudo pós-Joyce, pós-Woolf): a ambição de produzir parágrafos excessivamente conscientes de si mesmo, parágrafos que sejam também meta-parágrafos; a intenção de desenhar uma linguagem que ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
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  • Pulphead
  • The Ecstasy of Influence: Nonfictions, Etc.
  • Otherwise Known as the Human Condition: Selected Essays and Reviews
  • Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace
  • How to Be Alone
  • Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays
  • At Large and at Small: Familiar Essays
  • The War against Cliché: Essays and Reviews 1971-2000
  • Maps and Legends: Reading and Writing Along the Borderlands
  • The Best American Essays 2012
  • This Is Running for Your Life: Essays
  • The Next American Essay
  • Selected Non-Fictions
  • How Beautiful It Is and How Easily It Can Be Broken
  • Notes from No Man's Land: American Essays
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
“Am I a good person? Deep down, do I even really want to be a good person, or do I only want to seem like a good person so that people (including myself) will approve of me? Is there a difference? How do I ever actually know whether I'm bullshitting myself, morally speaking?” 653 likes
“ real life I always seem to have a hard time winding up a conversation or asking somebody to leave, and sometimes the moment becomes so delicate and fraught with social complexity that I'll get overwhelmed trying to sort out all the different possible ways of saying it and all the different implications of each option and will just sort of blank out and do it totally straight -- 'I want to terminate the conversation and not have you be in my apartment anymore' -- which evidently makes me look either as if I'm very rude and abrupt or as if I'm semi-autistic and have no sense of how to wind up a conversation gracefully...I've actually lost friends this way.” 303 likes
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