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¶ THANK YOU FOR YOUR NOTE.
April 13, 2012 7:21 AM   Subscribe

David Foster Wallace Writes to Don DeLillo: Among the many curiosities of this correspondence: “No offense intended” by the card’s image (a book cover from Sheldon Lord’s A Woman Must Love), the mention of Jonathan Franzen’s New Yorker piece on William Gaddis, the brick shithouse of a palm tree, and a request to eyeball DeLillo’s “new novel” (Cosmopolis?). So many of the sentences create space for wondering what more there is to know. [Via: The Outlet]

Transcript:
9-1 (CARDS WERE GIFTS–NO OFFENSE INTENDED)

DEAR D2, I AM NOW A LICENSED CA DRIVER, WHICH FROM THE SENSE I GET IS OFFICIAL STATE-CITIZENSHIP IF ANYTHING HERE IS. THERE IS A PALM TREE IN MY BACK YARD THAT’S 11 1/2 FEET AROUND. A BRICK SHITHOUSE OF A PALM TREE. ¶ THANK YOU FOR YOUR NOTE. I HAVE NOT YET READ THE GADDIS, BUT I’M IN CONTACT WITH FRANZEN, WHO’S APPARENTLY BEEN CHARGED THE TASK OF A COMPREHENSIVE GADDIS PIECE BY THE NYer, AND IS ‘STRUGGLING’ WITH IT. ¶ THIS BLOODY MENGENLEHRE BOOK (IT INTIMIDATES ME THAT YOU KNOW THIS TERM) TURNS OUT NOT TO BE DONE — BOTH THE MATH-EDITOR AND THE GENERAL EDITOR WANT REPAIRS — OFTEN THEIR DEMANDS ARE MUTUALLY CONTRADICTORY. I WILL END UP HAVING SPENT 11 MONTHS FULL-TIME ON A PROJECT I’D PLANNED TO KNOCK OFF PART-TIME IN 4. I NEVER WANT TO SEE ANOTHER FOURIER SERIES AS LONG AS I LIVE. ¶ I’D LOVE A CHANCE TO EYEBALL YR. NEW NOVEL IF YOU DON’T OBJECT. AND I HOPE VALPARAISO IS IN GOOD HANDS WITH THE TROUPE.

Y.V.T.
DAVID WALLACE
posted by Fizz (21 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
Mengenlehre and Fourier series - is he referring to research for Everything and More: A Compact History of Infinity?
posted by naju at 7:32 AM on April 13, 2012


Yes.
posted by escabeche at 7:33 AM on April 13, 2012


Huh. I think I just saw some of these letters at the UT-Austin Harry Ransom Center.
posted by maryr at 7:56 AM on April 13, 2012


Anyone have a link to the full Gaddis article by Franzen?
posted by holdkris99 at 8:04 AM on April 13, 2012


Don De Delillo as they say in Achewood....
posted by Homemade Interossiter at 8:07 AM on April 13, 2012


Anyone have a link to the full Gaddis article by Franzen?

Mr. Difficult: William Gaddis and the Problem of Hard-to-Read Books
posted by Fizz at 8:13 AM on April 13, 2012


THANK YOU FOR YOUR POST.
posted by kneecapped at 8:18 AM on April 13, 2012


I really liked Everything And More. I get the sense I'm probably the only one. But I wasn't coming at it for pure math or for pure narrative bluster and flash, so I enjoyed it for what it was.
posted by penduluum at 8:31 AM on April 13, 2012


I liked it a lot as well. I know essentially nothing about math beyond high school calculus (which was so long ago I can pretty much just barely define 'tangent') but found it highly enjoyable.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:35 AM on April 13, 2012


Hey, shakespeherian. It's weird and kinda cool that our comments, both in support of a book that was widely greeted with a shrug, are almost exactly the same length. Wonder if I can get another.
posted by penduluum at 8:45 AM on April 13, 2012


Aw, stupid kerning.
posted by penduluum at 8:45 AM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Slightly offtopic: there was a nice little piece in a New Yorker blog on Wednesday about the tax classes DFW attended. I knew we hadn't had a DFW thread in awhile - perfect timing!
posted by antonymous at 9:56 AM on April 13, 2012


HUGE fan of DFW here ... but I have to say, from a mathematical point of view, "Everything and More" was a total mess, so it doesn't surprise me to read here that he struggled with it. Michael Harris' review in the Notices of the American Mathematical Society is worth reading - http://www.ams.org/notices/200406/rev-harris.pdf
posted by crazy_yeti at 10:08 AM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I loved Everything and More and barely made it through high-school pre-algebra. And I've known quite a few people to tell me the math was wrong all over the place in there. Also heard some people say his writing on language was wrong all over the place too. It didn't matter to me. He did "wrong" beautifully.
posted by Cookiebastard at 10:21 AM on April 13, 2012


Nthing the Everything and More appreciation. I tend not to admit it out loud anymore, b/c people just made fun of me. :\

sorta a double from the birthday thread.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:09 AM on April 13, 2012


Thanks fizz.
posted by holdkris99 at 11:46 AM on April 13, 2012


I picked up Everything by chance when it came out, not recognizing the author, and not realizing it was the same guy until a year or so after I read IJ. I enjoyed it, despite having a PhD in math and recognizing many of the flaws Harris points out in his review. It's been years since I read it and I have no interest in apologizing for it in detail, but while I think it would be foolish to try to use it as a textbook, I remember it as a good popular overview of Cantor's work which presented the key ideas in an accessible and entertaining way.

I must admit I'm biased, though, being enough of a Wallace fan that I made time for a visit to the HRC while I was in Austin recently. I took a copy of DeLillo's reply to Wallace's I don't like this war one bit letter while I was there. I should transcribe it some time.
posted by Coventry at 2:19 PM on April 13, 2012


Everything and More is among my favorite things by DFW, and is miles above books by, say, Brian Clegg, on the same subject.
I remember reading that Franzen piece back in the day, shortly after having read The Recognitions. Might have to give it another look.
D2...heehee.
posted by OHenryPacey at 2:39 PM on April 13, 2012


I like the postcard made out of the cover of a trashy novel concept. Very creative.
posted by caddis at 5:48 PM on April 13, 2012


Hmmm. That might be an actual postcard. I was thinking he repurposed a book cover as a postcard.
posted by caddis at 5:51 PM on April 13, 2012


Another Thing to Sort of Pin on David Foster Wallace
posted by romines at 11:43 PM on April 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


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