Jacob's Reviews > Consider the Lobster and Other Essays

Consider the Lobster and Other Essays by David Foster Wallace
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's review
Oct 24, 2009

it was amazing
Read in December, 2009

First: I definitely read this book too fast.

I should've read each essay on its own, ideally in one sitting, and written something after each of them. But I loved the experience of reading this book (and had the luxury of TIME for once) that I often couldn't stop after one essay and powered onto the next without really spending time to think about the insights and arguments Wallace was presenting me with.

So, unfortunately, this review won't wrestle with these essays in the way they deserve (well, some of them deserve, some of them really are just fun, in my opinion) instead, I will simply briefly ponder some of my favorite essays/moments:

"The View from Mrs. Thompson's" is probably my favorite thing written about Sept 11 I have read (granted, I haven't read much). You don't quite know where it's going, and it doesn't seem to even be about 9/11 when suddenly on the last page, you are hit with a powerful emotional heft that is also very thought-provoking. I don't want to give too much away, but essentially the question it raises is "Whose America was attacked that day" and what does it mean for the rest of America

"How Tracy Austin broke my Heart" is the most thoughtful response imaginable to an inane, unbearable sports memoir. DFW explores the true powers of cliches (he does this really well in the AA parts of infinite jest) and has perhaps the best thesis about why almost all these types of books are terrible. (Once again, not to give it away, but it's related to their seeming uncanny ability to turn off their "Iago-like voice of the self"

"Up, Simba" is an incredibly interesting (and incredibly long) description of the week DFW spend following John McCain's 2000 run for president. It is even more interesting to read in the context of McCain's 2008 run (AND Obama's as well, consider McCain was the one "energizing the Youth Voter" in 2000). DFW explores the many dilemma's and paradoxes unique to McCain's run as well as to contemporary politics. A few good bits: "In fact, the likeliest reason why so many of us care so little about politics is that modern politicians make us sad, hurt us deep down in ways tha are hard even to name, much less talk about. It's way easier to roll your eyes and not give a shit." BUT (later): "By all means stay home if you want, but don't bullshit yourself that you're not voting. In reality, there is no such thing as not voting: you either vote by voting, or you vote by staying home and tacitly doubling the value of some Diehard's vote." And this time I will give away a bit: "Salesman or leader or neither or both, the final paradoz -- the really tiny central one, way down deep inside all the other campaign puzzles' spinning boxes and squares that layer McCain -- is that whether he's truly "for real" now depends less on what is in his heart than on what might be in yours."

"Joseph Frank's Dostoevsky"--basically made me realize that my fear of writing fiction isn't my fault, it's postmodernism's fault (whew!). It also made me want to read more Dostoevsky (while explaining why I didn't enjoy Brother's Karamazov the much: the translation)

While I read "Up, Simba" I kept thinking about McCain v Obama. While I read "Host," a 2004 profile of a talk radio host, I kept thinking of Glenn Beck. DFW explores many facets of the budding talk-radio surge (which, by now, has spread onto TV) including why I doesn't really work for liberals (bottom line: for many reasons, it doesn't/can't make money), why liberals misunderstand much of what's going on, and why he pities the world the host lives in. It manages to be a simultaneously sympathetic and damning, but mostly it's terrifying.

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Reading Progress

12/27/2009 page 167

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

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Jacob yes, i am on DFW kick. Sue me if that's cliche. But I read this (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB12217...) and instantly fell in love.

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