David Foster Wallace Would Have Been 50 Today

Today in publishing and literature: Cormac McCarthy has been living a double life, don't tell Justin Bieber the publishing industry is struggling, and the hastily-written Jeremy Lin e-books are here.

This article is from the archive of our partner .

Today in publishing and literature: How to celebrate the David Foster Wallace 50th, Cormac McCarthy has been living a double life and the hastily-written Jeremy Lin e-books are here.

The most moving appreciation of the author came from New York Daily News editorial board member Alexander Nazaryan, writing for the paper's book blog. It was Wallace's blessing and curse to have that "his mind was a diamond drill that reached as close as any to the opaque stuff inside us all." That instrument was too powerful and too delicate to keep steady: he suffered from depression for more than two decades before taking his own life in 2008. "Like the finest drills," Nazaryan writes, "it finally broke."  [Page Views]

Keeping track of the various characters and overlapping plotlines in Wallace's novel Infinite Jest is no easy task. A German designer named Jonny set up a character flowchart to chart the novel's progression, while designer Sam Potts opted for a character diagram to demonstrate the ways in which various characters know each other. [ Kostbarkeiten & Plunder and Sam Potts via Brain Pickings ]

Infinite Jest is a towering achievement, but there's a case to be made that he should primarily be remembered as a journalist, considering the depth and breadth of his work, plus his willingness to go out into the fray and engage with real people and bring back what they had to say. [Salon]

Speaking of Wallace the reporter and essayist: Here he is reading from "The View from Mrs. Thompson's," an essay from his 2005 collection Consider the Lobster.  [The David Foster Wallace Audio Project via @openculture]

Letters of Note, the invaluable correspondence blog, highlights a letter Wallace sent to novelist Don DeLillo in the autumn of 1995, just before the publication of Infinite Jest. Nonlinear narrative devices peppered Wallace's work, but he reveals a side here, in a letter to someone in his field he respects, he's able to ask a child's question: are you still allowed to have fun when you grow up?  [Letters of Note]

I know that I had less fun doing IJ than I did doing earlier stuff, even though I know in my tummy that it's better fiction. I think I understand that part of getting older and better as a writer means putting away many of my more childish self-gratifying notions of Fun, etc. But Fun is still the whole point, somehow, no? Fun on both sides of the writer/reader exchange? A kind of pleasure -- more rarified, doubtless, than M&M's or a good wank, but nevertheless pleasure. How do I allow myself to have Fun when writing without sacrificing Respect and Seriousness, i.e. going back to the exhibitionism and show-offery and pointless technical acrobatics?...If you do have any thoughts -- together with a couple minutes to rub together -- I'd be grateful for them. I'm about as professionally flummoxed as I've ever been.


All Best Wishes,

Dave Wallace

Meanwhile: it seems that Cormac McCarthy has been copy-editing books for his physicist friends. Lawrence Krauss, a physicist at Arizona State University says McCarthy gave the upcoming paperback edition Quantum Man, his biography of physicist Richard Feynman, a polishing. Krauss says the Blood Meridian author "made me promise he could excise all exclamation points and semicolons, both of which he said have no place in literature." McCarthy also apparently "went through the book in detail and made suggestions for rephrasing in certain points as well." He's performed a similar service on the first two books from Harvard physicist Lisa Randall. She tells the New York Times that for her first book, he "isolated all the semicolons in the margin; I then removed them." On her second book, she says he "removed the semicolons the editor added," adding that they also "had some nice conversations about the material." McCarthy's interest in science is well-documented: he keeps his writing office in the Santa Fe Institute, which id devoted to "theoretical research" and told Oprah Winfrey in 2008 that he prefers the company of scientists to authors. [The Chronicle of Higher Education and Arts Beat]

Don't tell Justin Bieber the publishing industry is in free fal: The teen pop star just landed his second book deal in 18 months. Once again, HarperCollins is publishing. It's going to be called Justin Bieber: Just Getting Started and contain "exclusive photos and quotes as he takes them behind-the-scenes on his tour and shows them what goes into recording an album." You laugh, but his first book, First Step 2 Forever has sold more than 1 million copies worldwide since being released in October 2010. [Us Weekly]

Plans for New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin to write a memoir have been put on the back-burner, but thankfully, there are  seven e-books about the former Harvard star now available for your Kindle. As quickie e-book publishing goes, Lin's story isn't being tackled from as many angles as, say, the death of Whitney Houston, which spawned 16 titles in 72 hours. If we had to pick a title, we would go with A New Winning Season: New York Jeremy Lin-Sanity – E. Manning, LinCredible, JPP, Mario, Tuck, Tebow, Cruz, Baby! (How to Live Before You Die), a book of New York sports poetry from authors Joseph J. Charles and Jacob J. Columbo. [GalleyCat]

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.