Thursday, April 9, 2009

David Foster Wallace +/vs. Premier Magazine

Film writer Glenn Kenny waxes nostalgic in an interview with The House Next Door, reminiscing about the times he edited David Foster Wallace for Premiere movie magazine.

Some choice quotes:
Dave would often be commissioned to do pieces at 5,000-7,500 words so he understood that at a certain point in the process it was quite possible this would happen, but in a way he was constitutionally incapable of keeping to a word length. It was a tacit agreement you had with him when you commissioned a piece that you were going to get something long. But if you can run a piece that long, he’s one of the cheapest first rate literary writers out there—you pay him X amount of dollars per word, but you get five times the words.


Dave could just walk around, getting as much out of the environment as possible. After 45 minutes of looking, he’d go out into the hallway in the convention center, sit up against the wall and write in his legal pad for 20-30 minutes, which was a good thing for him, because then he could zone out and not notice anything that was happening around him. I think the reason he had such an aversion to severely urban areas was the sensory overload of having to perceive that much.


We talked about things like addiction. He was always solicitous of your own condition, your own health. I know he had some very profound struggles in areas like that. Even had he not been depressed, I don’t think Dave was adverse to happiness but I think he was incredibly suspicious because of all of the false things in the culture that are proposed to simulate happiness. He looked at the concept askance because of that. Part of his personal struggle was to find a form of happiness that was not ersatz.

It's a great piece, one which enriches not only your appreciation of D.F.W., but also the value of a good editor/author relationship. To read the whole thing, click here.