Posts tagged ‘David Foster Wallace’

April 17, 2012

No Fiction Pulitzer for You!

For the first time in 35 years, there was no Pulitzer Price awarded in the fiction category. The Pulitzer fiction board, made up of jurors Susan Larson (former editor of The Times-Picayune), Maureen Corrigan (book critic for NPR’s Fresh Air), and novelist Michael Cunningham who won the 1999 Pulitzer for The Hours couldn’t reach the necessary consensus  to award a winner to one of the three fiction finalists.

The three finalists were Train Dreams by Denis Johnson, The Pale King by David Foster Wallace, and Swamplandia! by Karen Russel.

In an email that she wrote the Associate Press (AP), 1992 Pulitzer Prize fiction winner, Jane Smiley, wrote:

“I can’t believe there wasn’t a worthy one. It’s a shame. But sometimes a selection committee really cannot agree, and giving no award is the outcome. Too bad.”

While I don’t know the logistics behind choosing a book for the prize, I can imagine it must feel like a slap in the face to the finalists (except Foster Wallace who is deceased) or to anyone who wrote a noteworthy novel in 2011. What gives?

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February 24, 2012

Consider the Legacy of David Foster Wallace

David Foster Wallace would have been 50 years old on Tuesday, had he not taken his life in 2008. The esteemed writer penned three novels and three short story collections in his short lifetime, Infinite Jest, being the most famous. He was a MacArthur Fellow and won a boatload of prizes including Time Magazines’ Best Book of the Year and the O. Henry Prize.

Jonathan Lethem said of his friend and colleague (they both taught at Panoma College): “His footprint as a colleague, the extraordinary impression he left on the whole series of English majors who’ve now floated out into the world. … The idea that I might be part of the moving-on seemed very like an honor.”

Wallace was an alumni of the MFA program at the University of Arizona, where I earned the same degree, While I’ve never been nearly as successful as Wallace  (or even successful at all as a writer), I’ve always felt an affinity to him for that reason.

McSweeney’s reprinted an old interview with him while he had a teaching fellowship at the U of A.  In the piece, he gives the undergraduate class he’s teaching a memorable piece of advice:

When you write fiction, you are telling a lie. It’s a game, but you must get the facts straight. The reader doesn’t want to reminded that it’s a lie. It must be convincing, or the story will never take off in the reader’s mind.

He obviously took his own advice considering his stories have taken off in readers’ minds all over the world.

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