A Road Trip With David Foster Wallace

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Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace by David Lipsky offers incredible insight into the mind of David Foster Wallace.  Lipsky foregoes organizing his book like a standard biography and instead creates a running transcript of conversations he had with Wallace about his life, work, and other random topics.

Over the course of five days, Lipsky tags along at the tail end of the promotional tour for Wallace’s masterpiece Infinite Jest.  He keeps the tape recorder running and catches every word of conversation.  While the transcript format is a little disjointed and sometimes hard to follow, the choice to maintain straight conversation from start to finish proves to be the perfect method for showcasing the talent and personality of Wallace. As expected, Wallace is quirky, unnervingly intelligent, funny, and incredibly honest. He makes no excuses for his mistakes, nor does he flinch from the truth.  Seeing these traits in such a raw format only confirms that Wallace put all he was into his work, right down to obscurely used 15-syllable words and  dry humor.

In addition, Lipsky digs into the darker, troubled Wallace – the one who was plagued by his own demons and insecurities.  His pain is heartbreaking, but it makes his resilience and ability to inspire others all the more remarkable.  Wallace lived for the work of writing, even when it threatened to kill him more than once. He was a man desperate to understand himself, everyone else, and the world around him, yet I’d wager he had a better understanding of all those things than most people could ever hope to achieve. I’ve always believed Wallace sees the world the way it needs to be seen. After spending five days with him in airports, a rental car, and in his home with his dogs I’ve never been more convinced of that belief.

For any David Foster Wallace fan, Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace is a must read. Not only for a unique perspective on the man, but also for a little insight on all that went into his work.

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c.b.w. 2012

18 thoughts on “A Road Trip With David Foster Wallace

  1. I picked this up from the library once–but did not get to read it, as I tend to pick up books about a dozen at a time (am determined to keep my library viable)- but after reading this will give it another go – thanks for such an engaging review

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    • It’s definitely worth going back to the library to pick this one up again! Make sure it gets to the top of your reading pile!

      I have the same affliction when it comes to collecting books. I figure I’ll read them eventually, just not as quickly as my head thinks I can. 😉

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    • It’s a little silly how I discovered him! An actor I like was writing and directing an adaptation of Wallace’s “Brief Interviews With Hideous Men.” After listening to him describe the project and the book, I was intrigued. So, I went to the bookstore and found a copy. Wallace’s style was so unique – mainly because of its brutal honesty – I was instantly hooked. He doesn’t shy away from taboo topics and his compassion runs incredibly deep. I’ve never encountered a writer like him before or since. I may not like everything he does, but I’m blown away by his voice.

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  2. Shall add this to my pinterest boards (how geeky am I, I use pinterest for books so I can find them easily while at bookstores via smartphone , lol) I still need to read Infinite Jest, but I dig his short stories. Wallace sounds like a man I would have loved to share a glass or two with at a local pub ~

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