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The Work of David Foster Wallace Continues to Inspire

Daily News

Online Only, posted 3.20.09

Half a year has passed since David Foster Wallace's death, and interest in the late author’s distinctive work continues to mount. During his lifetime, Wallace, who committed suicide in September 2008, published five books of nonfiction, two short story collections, and two novels (a third is scheduled for publication next year).

This week, the writing exercise "A Primer for Kicking Ass: Being the Result of One Man's Fed-upped-ness With 'How to Write' Books Not Actually Showing You How to Write," written by James Tanner, popped up all over the Internet and in e-mails after blogger Jason Kottke reprinted it at kottke.org. The exercise, which takes a simple compound sentence through a step-by-step "Wallacizing" process that includes adding adjectival phrases and replacing ordinary words with their "scientific-y" counterparts, went on to be linked on a number of blogs and cultural Web sites, such as the Rumpus, and by Twitter users.

Slate also gave Wallace's work airtime this week, publishing an audio book club discussion of the author's second novel Infinite Jest as one of its daily podcasts. (The uninitiated be warned: Spoilers abound.)

Earlier this month, Wallace's longtime publisher, Little, Brown, announced plans to publish the author’s third novel, titled The Pale King, which was unfinished at the time of Wallace's death. The book, excerpted in the New Yorker's March 9 issue, will be released in 2010 along with notes and other related material.

Little, Brown will also publish a volume of the commencement speech Wallace delivered to Kenyon College graduates in 2005, previously printed in the Wall Street Journal and London Times. The book, This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life, will be released in April.

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