Posted April 11, 2013 by in New Reads

“Both Flesh and Not: Essays”

Both Flesh and Not: Essays, David Foster Wallace’s posthumous collection of essays, is best described (and lovingly so) as a frenzied, emphatic dissertation-cum-travel guide for the so-called “hysterical-realist” generation (NB: the term “hysterical realist” is itself a problematic label, in that it is a term [coined by a literary critic] that implicitly associates a group of stylistically/creatively/topically diverse group of writers with a literary agenda that is not always uniformly desirable to certain writers included in that specific category. As such, we should take such terms with a grain of salt, and consider each writer as manufacturing their own brand of “hysteria,” regardless of the degree to which their work is grounded in the realm of reality or not [DFW being a significant case in point -- I mean, who can ever toe the line between realism and absurdity more eloquently than he?], an anaclitic way of viewing literature [anaclisis: psychological dependence on others; "anaclitic"]. Rather than lumping a whole generation of writers together by simple virtue of the fact that they were born within a similar timeframe [i.e. Jonathan Franzen; i.e. Zadie Smith; &c.], we must learn to overlook such associative leaps made by the media, and grow to appreciate the ingenuity and brilliance of a writer of DFW’s ilk.)

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My name is Nick, and I am a student at the University of Pennsylvania. I am an as-of-yet undeclared English major, but for all intents and purposes that is what I study. I have been an avid reader since the second grade, and am an amateur writer (mostly of poetry, and I'm slowly but surely breaking out into prose writing.) I have several literary heroes, all of whom are writers of literary criticism. As such, writing criticism for me is both a way to appreciate art in and of itself, as well as pay homage to a wonderful tradition of free-thinking, analytic creativity.