This book is a well written, exceptionally researched, in-depth, and informative look at the life and writings of Kurt Vonnegut. The book moves through Vonnegut's life in chronological order, moving from childhood to death and recounts the changes in Vonnegut's life and fortune that shaped his life, his writing, and his legacy. Citing primary documents, letters, interviews, and Vonnegut's own writings, the author paints a very real and highly tangible representation of what life was like for Kurt Vonnegut. We are taken through a youth in Indiana, a soldier in World War II, a writer having a hard time getting published, a teacher at Iowa, and finally long awaited recognition and financial stability.
This is a great book for fans of Vonnegut's writing. There is much to be gleamed from Vonnegut's motivations, thoughts on craft and his ideas on the world.
This is the first posthumous collection of David Foster Wallace's nonfiction work. It is hard to say whether or not the pieces here are of any value to non-fans of Wallace, but as someone who thoroughly enjoys both his fiction and non-fiction alike, this is a collection most definitely worth the read. The collected pieces were all previously published elsewhere, so there is nothing here that has never been seen before.
The titular piece on Federer is a great one and has been referred to by many as a masterpiece. Tennis has always been a major writing point of Wallace's with the subject featuring prominently in Infinite Jest as well as pieces focusing on the sport in "Derivative Sport in Tornado Alley" in the Supposedly Fun Thing... collection and a review of Tracy Austin's autobiography in Consider the Lobster. As a gifted writer, powerful observer and tennis aficionado (he tinkered around in the junior rankings as a teenager), Wallace make's the sport of tennis, oft not considered a major one in here in the U.S., come to life; adding beauty and grace in a manner that transfers his enthusiasm and understanding to his audience with ease.
Fictive futures may very well seem dated at first glance as it discusses authors and a sense of things from the point of view of 1987 when it was written, but carries with many universal and still true points. Wallace discusses creative writing programs, teachers, students, the role of pop culture and the roll of how said culture and entertainment is delivered. He discusses film and television and fitting true to his nature, poses insightful questions and perceptions about where the culture is and where it is going in various respects made all the more interesting by the fact that it is now a quarter century later and we now have the benefit of hindsight and comparison.
Without doing a piece by piece review, I will simply say that this is a very approachable collection with familiar and understandable topics. I will not say that is collection is easy however, as the thing I enjoy most about Wallace's subjects and style is the challenge of his writing and the topics he writes about. They are often things I would not investigate on my own, but items none the less that are much appreciated and enjoyed through David Foster Wallace's looking glass.
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