Monday, December 21, 2009

All That

by David Foster Wallace

This short piece of fiction reminds us of what we lost when David Foster Wallace died last year. This story (not that it is really shaped like a story) deals with the perceptions of childhood - how children believe what their parents tell them unconditionally, and how they accept uncommon events as commonplace, such as the voices that the narrator heard until adolescence.

This feels very autobiographical - the sensitive, delicate boy who believes that his wooden cement mixer pull-toy is magical, so long as he doesn't look at it and who enters into fits of ecstasy because of late afternoon sunlight, only to have them heightened by his mothers sarcasm reads more like a reminiscence than a work of creation.

Wallace's authorial voice is more controlled than usual here. Yes, his sentences are gloriously overlong and peppered with parenthesis, but there is not a single footnote in sight, and he mostly keeps to his narrative. Any digressions feel intended, which is not always the case with his work, I've always suspected.

If anything, this reminds me that I've never read Infinite Jest or any of his other books, having only encountered his work through his magazine fiction. I should get on that...

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