The Empty Room,” a short story by Jonathan Lethem, appears in the latest issue of the Paris Review.

Nice Echo & the Bunnymen reference towards the end.

Pretty much their best song.


David Foster Wallace Archive

November 28, 2010

The David Foster Wallace archive opened at the University of Texas this past September.

A video of readings from Wallace’s books, stories, and letters, celebrating the event, appears here, thanks to the Harry Ransom Center.

Write above love …

Brett was damned good-looking. She wore a slipover jersey sweater and a tweed skirt, and her hair was brushed back like a boy’s. She started all that. — Ernest Hemingway, 1926.

Last I heard you had a four floor view … with lots of time … a notebook full of the finest creamy rich girl parchment pages … slowly filled with all your passing days. — Belle & Sebastian, 2010.

A great essay on Don DeLillo by William Wood appears in the latest issue of The Point magazine. In brief, he likes “Americana” and “Underworld” and doesn’t really like “Point Omega.”

Although DeLillo considers himself to have reached maturity only with White Noise, Americana shows a writer having already perfected his voice at its inception. The author’s departure in Americana from traditional tropes of plot, character development and so on bears witness that the essence of traditional formal conventions was not the extrinsic form itself but the underlying pathetic dynamic they successfully sustained. Critique of this departure is therefore as irrelevant as would be a critique of modern theater on account of its virtually ubiquitous disregard for the Aristotelian unities of place, time and action.

I find the arguments equally persuasive and entertaining. The only thing I’d add, though, is to say that I think it’s a mistake to write-off any of DeLillo’s novels as lesser or minor works. “Great Jones Street” being the leading case in point. Greeted with mixed reviews when it first came out, strong echoes of “Great Jones Street” have been heard repeatedly since then, after “Infinite Jest,” Kurt Cobain’s death, and most recently in Jonathan Letham’s “Chronic City.”

David Foster Wallace Archive

September 2, 2010

The David Foster Wallace Archive opens later this month at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas, and in anticipation, the Center has posted a number of high-resolution photos of Wallace’s books and manuscripts. Above, his copy of DeLillo; below, his amazing wit and wisdom.

This great essay/speech first appeared in the Winter 2010 issue of Arion.

The Point – Issue 2

March 17, 2010

The Point - Issue 2 - Winter 2010

There are some people who put together pretty good PhD dissertations, but then never write anything else worth reading again. The editors of and contributors to this magazine, The Point, do not belong to that group.

I really liked the first issue, which came out last spring, especially the article about David Foster Wallace. But this new, second issue goes a big step beyond.

Including a fantastic essay on Stendhal by someone named S.G. Belknap, and a funny and insightful piece on Houellebecq by Ben Jeffery. Very nice reflection on philosophy by Martha Nussbaum. Maggie Taft’s review of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Modern Wing deserves to be read with “Daydream Nation” playing in the background, because it mentions Gerhard Richter. And there’s a tribute to/eulogy for John Hughes, nicely put by Sarah Miller-Davenport.

Plus an absolutely brilliant piece by Etay Zwick that brings Veblen to bear on the current crisis, and pretty much hits the nail on the head as far as that topic is concerned.

If these guys keep coming out with writing that’s anything close to this level, their magazine, I’d say, will deserve to be called the best and most important of its kind.