A new book called The David Foster Wallace Reader promises new insight to a man who was a literary hero to a generation. The author of Infinite Jest and numerous essays that set the contemporary standard for the genre, Wallace was also a generous and unsentimental teacher. In the new book, Wallace's many hats are worn at once--and insight can be gleaned everywhere.
In the spring semester of 2008, Wallace taught a creative nonfiction course at Pomona College and readers can put themselves in the class thanks to the new book. There are always interesting details with DFW. Here's one: the grades will depend on, among other things, "Quality & Quantity of Participation, Effort, Improvement, Alacrity of Carriage, etc." Yes, alacrity of carriage. Try it today. It's an interesting preoccupation--how one carries oneself. Wallace committed suicide the following fall. Here's the syllabus of works he wanted his students to read.
--Jo Ann Beard’s “Werner”
--Stephen Elliott’s “Where I Slept”
--George Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language”
--Donna Steiner’s “Cold”
--David Gessner’s “Learning to Surf”
--Kathryn Harrison’s “The Forest of Memory”
--Hester Kaplan’s “The Private Life of Skin”
--George Saunders’s “The Braindead Megaphone”
[Check out the "Most Interesting Finds" on Amazon ]