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The Dull King

“David Foster Wallace is very good at becoming the whole of boredom.”

–Page 33, How Fiction Works, James Woods

32 thoughts on “The Dull King

      1. That’s a pretty nasty claim. James Wood has some contentious opinions, sure, but you’re saying that he’s basically mean and soulless. That’s a little silly, don’t you think? He may not have thought through his comment, but I highly doubt his motivation was anything other than sincere sorrow for the loss.

        1. I think Edmond did a good job examining Woods’s dubious motivations for writing the “eulogy” here: http://contrajameswood.blogspot.com/2008/11/crocodile-tears.html

          And murky motivations isn’t new for Woods.
          From the Man Booker Prize site:

          “This was the year too when judge James Wood recommended a novel by Clare Messud to his fellow judges, conveniently forgetting to mention that she was his wife.”


          This was in 1994.

  1. The issue of his decorum in commenting in an open forum dedicated to mourning DFW notwithstanding, I’m just reading Wood’s book for the first time, and I not ready to dismiss his criticisms of Wallace’s work. He obviously doesn’t “get” Wallace as one does as a fan, but he also doesn’t entirely misread him. I’ll post more once I’ve read more.

  2. Two writers, Wallace, Bolano, have had untimely (well one), early deaths resulting in their being branded ‘geniuses.’ The bandwagon is loud and proud these days.

    Why isn’t Saramago branded a genius as much as Bolano?

    I guess we have to ask Harold Bloom.

        1. So we have a bunch of geniuses in our world, in America.

          To misquote Woody to Diane Keaton in Manhattan, “This friend or yours is genius and that friend is a genius, maybe you should meet some stupid people, you might learn something.”

      1. Yes John yes. What I’m getting at is how the media embraces certain writers and ignores others. Wallace was embraced before death but Infinite Jest is only 14 years old. Let’s hold off a little before the grand pronouncements about it’s historical weight.

  3. BTW, Wallace himself openly told people that Saunders was a much better writer than himself.

    If anyone wants to read Infinite Jest with me, let’s do it.

          1. Oh, and also, I really don’t know what kind of reasonable comparison can be made between George Saunders and DFW. Their projects and styles are so different, it doesn’t seem advantageous.

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