Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book


Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  David Foster Wallace  

Pen Name: None

Genre:

Audience: Young Adult; Children;

Born: 1962 in Ithaca, New York

Died: 2008 in Claremont, California


-- David Foster Wallace on WorldCat -- http://www.worldcat.org/search?q=david+foster+wallace


Illinois Connection

Wallace was raised in Champaign-Urbana.

Biographical and Professional Information

David Foster Wallace was born in Ithaca, New York, in 1962 and raised in Illinois, where he was a regionally ranked junior tennis player. He received bachelor of arts degrees in philosophy and English from Amherst College and wrote what would become his first novel, ''The Broom of the System'', as his senior English thesis. He received a masters of fine arts from University of Arizona in 1987 and briefly pursued graduate work in philosophy at Harvard University. Wallace published short fiction in ''Might, GQ, Playboy, The Paris Review, Harper's Magazine, Mid-American Review, Conjunctions, Esquire, Open City, Timothy McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, The New Yorker,'' and ''Science''. In 1997, Wallace received the Aga Khan Prize for Fiction, awarded by editors of ''The Paris Review'' for one of the stories in ''Brief Interviews''—"Brief Interviews with Hideous Men #6"—which had appeared in the magazine.His second novel, ''Infinite Jest'', was published in 1996. Wallace taught creative writing at Emerson College, Illinois State University, and Pomona College, where he was the first Roy E. Disney Professor of Creative Writing. He published the story collections ''Girl with Curious Hair'', ''Brief Interviews with Hideous Men'', ''Oblivion'', the essay collections ''A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again'', and ''Consider the Lobster''. He was awarded the MacArthur Fellowship, a Lannan Literary Award, and a Whiting Writers' Award, and was appointed to the Usage Panel for The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. He died in 2008. His last novel, ''The Pale King'', was published in 2011.


Published Works Expand for more information


Titles At Your Library

The Broom of the System: A Novel (Penguin Ink) (The Penguin Ink Series)
ISBN: 0143116932

Penguin Books. 2010

The "dazzling, exhilarating" (San Francisco Chronicle) debut novel from one of this century's most groundbreaking writers

Published when David Foster Wallace was just twenty-four years old, The Broom of the System stunned critics and marked the emergence of an extraordinary new talent. At the center of this outlandishly funny, fiercely intelligent novel is the bewitching heroine, Lenore Stonecipher Beadsman. The year is 1990 and the place is a slightly altered Cleveland, Ohio. Lenore’s great-grandmother has disappeared with twenty-five other inmates of the Shaker Heights Nursing Home. Her beau, and boss, Rick Vigorous, is insanely jealous, and her cockatiel, Vlad the Impaler, has suddenly started spouting a mixture of psycho-babble, Auden, and the King James Bible. Ingenious and entertaining, this debut from one of the most innovative writers of his generation brilliantly explores the paradoxes of language, storytelling, and reality.

Girl With Curious Hair
ISBN: 0349111022

Abacus. 1997

In these stories, the author renders the bizarre normal and the absurd hilarious, from the eerily real , almost holographic evocations of historical figures, to overtelevised game-show hosts and late-night comedians. In the title story, punk nihilism meets Young Republicanism.

Infinite Jest: A Novel
ISBN: 0316920045

Little, Brown and Company. 1996

A gargantuan, mind-altering comedy about the Pursuit of Happiness in America set in an addicts' halfway house and a tennis academy, and featuring the most endearingly screwed-up family to come along in recent fiction, Infinite Jest explores essential questions about what entertainment is and why it has come to so dominate our lives

about how our desire for entertainment affects our need to connect with other people

and about what the pleasures we choose say about who we are. Equal parts philosophical quest and screwball comedy, Infinite Jest bends every rule of fiction without sacrificing for a moment its own entertainment value. It is an exuberant, uniquely American exploration of the passions that make us human - and one of those rare books that renew the idea of what a novel can do.

A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments
ISBN: 0316925284

Back Bay Books. 1998

In this exuberantly praised book - a collection of seven pieces on subjects ranging from television to tennis, from the Illinois State Fair to the films of David Lynch, from postmodern literary theory to the supposed fun of traveling aboard a Caribbean luxury cruiseliner - David Foster Wallace brings to nonfiction the same curiosity, hilarity, and exhilarating verbal facility that has delighted readers of his fiction, including the bestselling Infinite Jest.

Brief Interviews with Hideous Men
ISBN: 0316925195

Back Bay Books. 2000

In this thought-provoking and playful short story collection, David Foster Wallace nudges at the boundaries of fiction with inimitable wit and seductive intelligence.
Wallace's stories present a world where the bizarre and the banal are interwoven and where hideous men appear in many guises. Among the stories are 'The Depressed Person,' a dazzling and blackly humorous portrayal of a woman's mental state

'Adult World,' which reveals a woman's agonized consideration of her confusing sexual relationship with her husband

and 'Brief Interviews with Hideous Men,' a dark, hilarious series of imagined interviews with men on the subject of their relations with women.
Wallace delights in leftfield observation, mining the absurd, the surprising, and the illuminating from every situation. This collection will enthrall DFW fans, and provides a perfect introduction for new readers.

Everything and More: A Compact History of Infinity
ISBN: 0393339289

W. W. Norton & Company. 2010

"A gripping guide to the modern taming of the infinite."―The New York Times. With a new introduction by Neal Stephenson.

Is infinity a valid mathematical property or a meaningless abstraction? David Foster Wallace brings his intellectual ambition and characteristic bravura style to the story of how mathematicians have struggled to understand the infinite, from the ancient Greeks to the nineteenth-century mathematical genius Georg Cantor's counterintuitive discovery that there was more than one kind of infinity. Smart, challenging, and thoroughly rewarding, Wallace's tour de force brings immediate and high-profile recognition to the bizarre and fascinating world of higher mathematics.

Oblivion: Stories
ISBN: 0316010766

Back Bay Books. 2005

In the stories that make up Oblivion, David Foster Wallace joins the rawest, most naked humanity with the infinite involutions of self-consciousness--a combination that is dazzlingly, uniquely his.
These are worlds undreamt of by any other mind. Only David Foster Wallace could convey a father's desperate loneliness by way of his son's daydreaming through a teacher's homicidal breakdown ("The Soul Is Not a Smithy"). Or could explore the deepest and most hilarious aspects of creativity by delineating the office politics surrounding a magazine profile of an artist who produces miniature sculptures in an anatomically inconceivable way ("The Suffering Channel"). Or capture the ache of love's breakdown in the painfully polite apologies of a man who believes his wife is hallucinating the sound of his snoring ("Oblivion").
Each of these stories is a complete world, as fully imagined as most entire novels, at once preposterously surreal and painfully immediate.

Consider the Lobster and Other Essays
ISBN: 0316013323

Back Bay Books. 2007

Do lobsters feel pain? Did Franz Kafka have a funny bone? What is John Updike's deal, anyway? And what happens when adult video starlets meet their fans in person?

David Foster Wallace answers these questions and more in essays that are also enthralling narrative adventures. Whether covering the three-ring circus of John McCain's 2000 presidential race, plunging into the wars between dictionary writers, or confronting the World's Largest Lobster Cooker at the annual Maine Lobster Festival, Wallace projects a quality of thought that is uniquely his and a voice as powerful and distinct as any in American letters.

This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life
ISBN: 0316068225

Little, Brown and Company. 2009

Only once did David Foster Wallace give a public talk on his views on life, during a commencement address given in 2005 at Kenyon College. The speech is reprinted for the first time in book form in THIS IS WATER. How does one keep from going through their comfortable, prosperous adult life unconsciously? How do we get ourselves out of the foreground of our thoughts and achieve compassion? The speech captures Wallace's electric intellect as well as his grace in attention to others. After his death, it became a treasured piece of writing reprinted in The Wall Street Journal and the London Times, commented on endlessly in blogs, and emailed from friend to friend.

Writing with his one-of-a-kind blend of causal humor, exacting intellect, and practical philosophy, David Foster Wallace probes the challenges of daily living and offers advice that renews us with every reading.

The Pale King
ISBN: 0316074225

Back Bay Books. 2012

The agents at the IRS Regional Examination Center in Peoria, Illinois, appear ordinary enough to newly arrived trainee David Foster Wallace. But as he immerses himself in a routine so tedious and repetitive that new employees receive boredom-survival training, he learns of the extraordinary variety of personalities drawn to this strange calling. And he has arrived at a moment when forces within the IRS are plotting to eliminate even what little humanity and dignity the work still has.

The Pale King remained unfinished at the time of David Foster Wallace's death, but it is a deeply compelling and satisfying novel, hilarious and fearless and as original as anything Wallace ever undertook. It grapples directly with ultimate questions--questions of life's meaning and of the value of work and society--through characters imagined with the interior force and generosity that were Wallace's unique gifts. Along the way it suggests a new idea of heroism and commands infinite respect for one of the most daring writers of our time.

Both Flesh and Not: Essays
ISBN: 0316182389

Back Bay Books. 2013

Brilliant, dazzling, never-before-collected nonfiction writings by "one of America's most daring and talented writers." (Los Angeles Times Book Review).

Both Flesh and Not gathers fifteen of Wallace's seminal essays, all published in book form for the first time.

Never has Wallace's seemingly endless curiosity been more evident than in this compilation of work spanning nearly 20 years of writing. Here, Wallace turns his critical eye with equal enthusiasm toward Roger Federer and Jorge Luis Borges

Terminator 2 and The Best of the Prose Poem

the nature of being a fiction writer and the quandary of defining the essay

the best underappreciated novels and the English language's most irksome misused words

and much more.

Both Flesh and Not restores Wallace's essays as originally written, and it includes a selection from his personal vocabulary list, an assembly of unusual words and definitions.