David Foster Wallace. Consider the Lobster: And Other Essays
A collection of essays exhibiting the author’s characteristic range and depth: from a trip to a porn industry exhibition to meditations on the lobster to some (even now) fascinating reflections on John McCain’s failed bid for the Republican nomination in 2000. DFW trains his considerable intellectual firepower on these topics, with notable success. Without meaning to detract from DFW’s thoughts on these subjects, what is most remarkable to me about these pieces is how tremendously rhetorically effective they are. DFW was clearly a humane, decent person, but so are lots of people. What is extraordinary about his essays is how effectively he manages to communicate those qualities. One measure of how deft his touch is is how gracefully he manages to smooth over tensions that would be more apparent in the work of a lesser writer: acknowledging Feminist criticisms of pornography on the way to quickly setting them aside, for example, or somehow managing to be the unassuming, unthreatening dude-next-door while sending you to the dictionary more frequently than any other author you’ve ever read. Good stuff.