Over at The Millions, A-J Aronstein recaps his trip to Austin for the recent David Foster Wallace symposium:
To his fans, Wallace struggles more mightily in his work with these kinds of questions than any author of his generation, though they’re certainly at the heart of a lot of fiction that Wallace didn’t write. He was, as [editor Michael] Pietsch puts it, “an extraordinary mind struggling with the challenge of ordinariness.” But what we seem to be searching for in an author’s archive (or even in a biography, a memoir, or whatever) is precisely an indication of the ordinariness of their struggle. So although we say we go to fiction for what we think is a unique set of experiences, we still crave the tangible evidence that an author was a person: that Wallace made sometimes-unreasonable demands of his editors, that he hid in hotel rooms while on assignment, that it was harder for him than the effortlessness of his prose would suggest.
When I asked Pietsch about the challenges of working with Wallace in everyday life, he responded with a tennis anecdote, telling me about a time when David had ask him to play a few sets.
“I demurred,” he said, “but David said ‘trust me, it’s great. What I’m really good at is putting the ball just outside your range.’”
Read the rest
(Bound copy of “Corrections of Typos/Errors for Paperback Printing of Infinite Jest" from David Foster Wallace to Nona Krug and Michael Pietsch. Image courtesy of the Harry Ransom Center.)