With the US release date of Nov 6th for David Foster Wallace's uncollected essays, Both Flesh and Not: Essays, almost here and word that the Australian imprint is already appearing in stores, I guess it's time to remind you all about it (particularly as I've been sitting on preview copies for a little while now - big thanks to Little Brown and Penguin Australia for those) though recent events have made it difficult to get anything much done around here.
Both Flesh and Not: Essays is an unusual collection of David Foster Wallace's essays. Unusual because I've read them all before, as I'm sure plenty of big fans of David Foster Wallace non-fiction will have too. Some of the essays in this collection (such as the title essay about Roger Federer) are still available online in slightly different versions, others in the collection have been read by dedicated fans by visiting libraries to seek past issues of magazines, passed as photocopies between friends, or even 'discovered' on the internet.
That said, this is the first time these have been collected together. They span Wallace's career, and range for fantastic must-read pieces, to some that are here because they've not been officially collected before. I'm not going to get drawn into arguments as to the why of this release, or the timing. I'm honestly happy this collection is available for those of us that want them now (or close enough to be now) and crave polished and bound versions to sit on the shelf near the others. There's no doubt these were going to be collected at some stage.
But this is also a great collection for the many DFW readers who love his non-fiction, devour his essays whenever they appear in sight, and have not seen these before. I'm going to bet that many of the readers that buy this collection have not read all of the essays contained within before. And that's pretty much why this little website exists. I want more people to read the work of David Foster Wallace.
There are also a couple of little surprises that I didn't really expect to be included. One of them, 24 Word Notes, collects the word note entries that David Foster Wallace contributed to the Oxford American Writer's Thesaurus (which I bought on release, yes, for DFW's word notes). If you're not quite the completist that I am, and thus haven't already read these then you're in for a treat. There's much elation and entertainment to be found in DFW's precision about specific word usage. At least for me.
Pre-order Both Flesh and Not: Essays now.
Reviews and Articles (let me know if you find ant more):
- James Ley for the Sydney Morning Herald, A Genius Revealed. [27/10/12]
- Sean Conner's Anobium review, Grappling With the World: Both Flesh and Not. [28/8/12]
- Publishers Weekly review. [13/8/12]
- Gideon Lewis-Kraus's Bookforum review, Viewer Discretion.