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‘An Unwilled or Involuntary Interior Tableau’

March 16, 2011

[Image from New York Times}

The heading of this entry is a phrase from the eponymous story in a 2004 collection by David Foster Wallace (1962-2008), Oblivion . There was an excited murmur in the (wince) blogosphere around a leak of the first sentence of a soon-to-be-published posthumous work by Wallace The Pale King, out the 15th of April.

The leak sprung here it seems, followed by further commentary here and here. and here .

I am curious at the role in online literary communities, in the process of canonisation of Wallace as one of The Great American writers of recent decades. The David Foster Wallace Case offers a live-action performance of how the real corporeal death of the author (Wallace committed suicide in 2008) poses both problems and solutions for the literary editor as well as the use by publishers of online forums to both publicise their texts. Undoubtedly the leak is great pre-launch publicity, the mere whiff of new information on Wallace invariably causes a tweeting frenzy and these opening lines are no exception.

When first making my way through Oblivion and musing over whether to also try and source the cinematic interpretation of one of Wallace’s other stories, it seemed as if this author were somehow particularly emblematic for the present generation of digiphilic readers. I also realised before having read a word that my opinion was already semi-formed, or somehow irrelevant, for, with all this tweeting and flapping…his work is already ‘good’. Ah Twitter, the new Norton!


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