Books Nov 17, 2005 at 4:00 am

An Interview with the New Yorker's Deborah Treisman


No comments in almost three years? Does anyone read

Deborah Treisman, in a September 29, 2008 New Yorker Postscript on David Foster Wallace, wrote:

"But Wallace was also a throwback to another time—when the romantic vision of the writer was of a recluse, living far from the capital, struggling through his manuscript in the privacy of his own study, and emerging years later with a masterpiece. He was a private person, modest and genuinely self-deprecating. (He signed his letters with smiley faces long before emoticons existed.)"

Praising a man's personal qualities and implying that a parenthetical comment, totally off topic, bolsters that statement, seems illogical to me. Did he also dot his i's with little hearts? Immature teenagers did that a lot 25 years ago.
I read the Treisman piece on DFW too. I think what she meant by the smiley face comment is that he was a warm and caring guy. Because "post-modern" ironists often get a reputation of being brutally removed and cynical (especially if they happen to be a recluse), but DWF wasn't like that. A lot of his students are also saying that he was a caring teacher, who would give five page response to a four page story, filling the margins with doodles and smiley faces, etc.
I think the New Yorker has published B stories by A list writers. John Updike case in point.
Hey I just read this. It's great. I just added the Stranger to my bookmarks.

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