Tag Archives: David Foster Wallace


20 Feb

Start short-short story with a simple sentence that hooks readers with personal investment—perhaps recognition of pop culture items, brand names, etc.—and a transgressive juxtaposition. Possibly follow with a deadpan comment. Absurd rhetorical question?

Crafty refrain to be repeated.

Use lots of small paragraphs for the pretense of emphasis and earnestness.

Another deadpan comment.

Channel quotidian life via Raymond Carver via Anton Chekhov without intensely studying either of the latter or scrutinizing the former. Verb nouns and noun verbs. Hyphenate adjectives.

Witty observation about character’s personality. Fragments. Fragment. Employ first person plural as if never done before. Drop in tautology for zen master effect.

Crafty refrain.

Get good at parataxis. Very good at parataxis. So good at parataxis that your sentences, almost by magic, will become hypotactic.

Have characters speak laconically and dry. Use asyndeton, gerunds.


[Unexplainable white space]


Deeply searching, yet ultimately shallow rhetorical question?

As you reach the end of the piece and you’re feeling saucy and breaking out the logorrheic polysyndeton and don’t know how to end in a pithy manner but you know it must end soon because without the Joycean throwforward to Wallace everyone is in suspense. Fragment. Let down. Bring down the mood with banal platitudes and possibly switch to second person, you.

Crafty refrain.

Some words that are vague, but, you know, like, in a good way-kind-of-thingy, that sometimes, someone, somewhere, can’t possibly unspool because the thing has no actual content, or whatever.

End with non-sequitur.


[Dramatic white space]


Sincere ending.



Thinly disguised, insane, over-the-top bio that, by necessity, has to include overly personal, and quirky, details about author’s dog, breakfast choices, current location, and blog address. Extensive list of publications that no one will follow up on in titles that no one has ever heard of. 

“Coping With an Unfinished Life”

15 Oct

Although this may not be an excerpt from a small press, I feel that the readership will appreciate this article. Coping with an Unfinished Life is a New York Times article about the life of  Karen Green, David Foster Wallace’s widow, following her husband’s suicide. Written by Mario Russo, published October 8th.  Here’s a short excerpt.

Midway down the sheet, stamped “Medical Center,” are rows of embroidered tally marks representing the number of days Ms. Green, 50, has been a widow. In the pocket is a patient’s right-to-privacy booklet she acquired during a visit to a psychiatrist after Mr. Wallace’s death. Next to the sheet is a yellowing, stained pillow, part of its feathery stuffing removed and strewn on the floor. The dog whose features are embroidered on the sheet died soon after Mr. Wallace’s death.