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”