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Always Doing

Escapist reading for those who are always doing.

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Mari Fujimura, 藤村真理

Consider the Lobster: And Other Essays

Consider the Lobster and Other Essays - David Foster Wallace I don't think there is anything new I can say about David Foster Wallace - he is brilliant and funny and manages to both go over my head and stay down to earth at the same time. I'm really glad I read this collection of essays before tackling Infinite Jest, kind of like stretching before a marathon. It also gave me a chance to see how my e-reader would handle DFW's copious endnotes.The verdict - surprisingly well. It was my best foot or endnote experience to date. Each note was on a separate screen so touching ^23 would put endnote 23 right at the top of the page, in full, with no other notes trailing. It prevented me from accidentally "spoiling" myself by seeing content in later notes, which happened quite a lot as I read World War Z. You could chalk it up to my lack of willpower or my wandering eyes, but I'll keep blaming the e-reader. *~nodnod~*Touching (back to text) at the end of the note brought me back to the previous page with the next sentence right at the top. It seems illogical - in a real book you would flip back and the note would still be two thirds of the way down or whatever. But putting the next line at the top meant I never had to hunt or remember where on the page I was, as the next thing to read was always in the same place. Absolutely wonderful.Not perfect, however. The links for endnotes within endnotes could be a little wonky, forcing me get creative with the back button. Also, the end notes are in a font at least two clicks smaller than the main text. Fine for most books with two line notes, I'm sure, but when DFW goes into a three page interpolation it left me squinting. There were also some weird formatting blips, like "3x5" getting rendered as "3¥5". Add in this oddity: "The logic of this (preference [[Right arrow]] suffering) relation may be easiest to see in the negative case." The file format is native to my reader so I'm not sure why they couldn't get a → in there.Like with any essay collection there are awesome pieces and meh pieces. My favorites were Big Red Son about the 1998 Adult Video News (read: porn) Awards, and Up, Simba about being on the trail with the McCain2000 primary campaign. For some reason my edition is missing Host, a report about conservative talk radio... I wonder why that is. I feel jipped now!Up, Simba was written for Rolling Stone and, as explained in a note from Wallace, had to be cut down ruthlessly for the magazine. Quote, "In fact the article's editor pointed out that running the whole thing would take up most of Rolling Stone's text-space and might even cut into the percentage of the advertisements, which obviously would not do." (Full version here, of course.) You can tell the magazine had a no endnote rule and it must have pained the author greatly. A couple of smaller asides survive as parenthetical insertions but it's interesting to see what an EN-less DFW essay looks like. It feels scandalous to say this, but... I kinda liked it. Not that I would want to erase any of his endnotes (or even skip over one - perish the thought) but the change of pace was appreciated.Authority and American Usage nearly killed me. I had just finished a long day of editing prose written by non-native speakers only to be confronted with this essay that opens with the most questionable English imaginable. "On accident. Kustom Kar Kare Autowash. From whence. Could care less. Incumbent upon. Mandate. Plurality. Per anum. Conjunctive adverbs in general." My brain fried right there on the train.While one book cannot make a favorite author I definitely have a new intellectual crush. DFW, it's good to know you.