The Howling Fantods

David Foster Wallace News and Resources Since March 97

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Dead Author Breeds Big Business?

Update: Matt Bucher's quote has been corrected. Good stuff. 

It's interesting to see how these things play out... I was interviewed by David Freedlander this weekend past for his article, Dead Author Breeds Big Business: The David Foster Wallace Industry. It documents the rise of the 'David Foster Wallace Industry' with good breadth of commentary. But after reading some of the quotes and passages in the article I'm left wondering about its intentions and what I can only read as spin to make the 'industy' look like a negative thing.

There's nothing in there concerning the comments I made about loving reading the criticism in Consider David Foster Wallace; nothing in there about my explicit reference to the quality of the essays supporting the Fate, Time and Language publication.

But this stuff gets me cranky:

Some grumbling about exploitation has been heard from the Fantods, especially when the work is widely available on the Internet, like when the Kenyon speech that became This Is Water becomes copyrighted and available for $14.99 by the checkout desk of the local bookstore.
"Clearly, anything else published under his name will be just scraping money out of his coffin," Mr. Bucher said.

I'm focusing on the bold text here: David Freedlander asked me about grumblings in response to things like the publication of This Is Water. I agreed I'd read things like that on the web. He asked if that was on the fantods. I was quite clear in clarifying that I'd read things like that elsewhere, not on the Fantods. In fact, I think I'm one of the few people who didn't have anything explicitly bad to say about This is Water - I kind of liked it (and I copped flack for that in private...).

If we change the word 'from' to 'by' then it would be considerably more representative of my response:

...grumbling about exploitation has been heard from the Fantods...


...grumbling about exploitation has been heard by the Fantods...

[And just for clarification's sake. This site got the name 'The Howling Fantods' because it stuck with me after I first read Infinite Jest. I know DFW didn't coin the phrase, but for me, it is synonymous with reading that novel. There was zero intention to have the fan in 'Fantods' represent David Foster Wallace fans. I now realise that many people think that, and I feel silly for not seeing that connection could be made in the first place!]

 But I'm really quite angry about the positioning and context of Matt Bucher's 'quote' directly after.

"Clearly, anything else published under his name will be just scraping money out of his coffin," Mr. Bucher said.

Matt Bucher is my friend and his love for everything David Foster Wallace is clear to anyone who knows him. He maintains the massive wallace-l mailing list, he is the Editor-in-Chief of Sideshow Media Group Press that was responsible for the publication of Elegant Complexity and Consider David Foster Wallace, and he is an advocate for the work of David Foster Wallace whenever he can, check out SXSW this weekend. You might like to check out his posts about The Pale King over at his blog Simple Ranger while you're at it.

Matt has responded in the comment section of David Freedlander's article writing: 

For the record, I don't believe anything else published under DFW's name would be "scraping money from his coffin." That's what *some* people believe or might believe. I was describing the haters, the critics, not myself.

That's quite a significant shift in context, no?

Last Updated on Thursday, 10 March 2011 01:43  


#1 mattbucher 2011-03-09 20:26
Thanks, Nick. I've asked to have my quote changed and it looks like it has been updated in the online version of the article.
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