from “Shipping Out” by D. F. Wallace

from “Shipping Out” by D. F. Wallace published in Folio

The Four Color Brochure, Part I

I have now seen sucrose beaches and water a very bright blue. I have seen an all-red leisure suit with flared lapels. I have smelled suntan lotion spread over 2,100 pounds of hot flesh. I have been addressed as “Mon” in three different nations. I have seen 500 upscale Americans dance the Electric Slide. I have seen sunsets that looked computer-enhanced. I have (very briefly) joined a conga line….

About D. F. Wallace (from Rolling Stone)

When David Foster Wallace committed suicide in 2008, it was clear he had been profoundly depressed. But the first major biography of the writer, D.T. Max’s Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story, out on August 30th, reveals an even more troubled mind than anyone realized. From the time he was in college, the brilliant author of Infinite Jest was in and out of institutions as he struggled with depression and addictions to alcohol and marijuana. But the book is also full of all kinds of other strange surprises, painting the most complete, and warmest, portrait of Wallace yet.

He wasn’t as good at tennis as he claimed. Wallace described himself as “near great” at his favorite sport, but in reality he was just the 11th-best teenage player in central Illinois – not exactly a tennis hotbed. Still, he was good enough to beat Jay McInerney when they were both at the artist colony Yaddo.

He once plotted murder. Obsessed with the writer Mary Karr, Wallace planned to shoot her husband with a gun he tried to buy from a guy he met in recovery. She found out about the scheme, but believed him when he blamed it on his buddy. Wallace and Karr eventually became a couple.

He voted for Reagan. And supported Ross Perot! But his loathing of George W. Bush turned Wallace into a liberal.

He had hygiene issues. Wallace was so embarrassed by his tendency to sweat that he carried a tennis racket in high school, hoping people would think he had just left the court. He was also serious about dental hygiene, keeping a toothbrush in his sock for emergencies.

One of his best short stories is about Elizabeth Wurtzel. After being rejected by the Prozac Nation author, Wallace wrote the 1998 story “The Depressed Person,” basing the title character – the most unpleasant person on Earth – on her.

He was a ladies’ man. Wallace hooked up with everyone from friends’ girlfriends to countless young fans. He once asked his friend Jonathan Franzen if his only purpose on Earth is “to put my penis in as many vaginas as possible.”

About Eckleburg

 

 

from “After Life” by Joan Didion

“After Life” by Joan Didion was originally published in The New York Times.

 

Life changes fast. 
Life changes in the instant. 
You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends. 
The question of self-pity.

Those were the first words I wrote after it happened. The computer dating on the Microsoft Word file (“Notes on change.doc”) reads “May 20, 2004, 11:11 p.m.,” but that would have been a case of my opening the file and reflexively pressing save when I closed it. I had made no changes to that file in May. I had made no changes to that file since I wrote the words, in January 2004, a day or two or three after the fact….

About Joan Didion

Joan Didion (born December 5, 1934) is an American author best known for her novels and her literary journalism. Her novels and essays explore the disintegration of American morals and cultural chaos, where the overriding theme is individual and social fragmentation. A sense of anxiety or dread permeates much of her work.

In 2002, Didion received the St. Louis Literary Award from the Saint Louis University Library Associates.

Didion has received a great deal of recognition for The Year of Magical Thinking, which was awarded the National Book Award for Nonfiction in 2005. Documenting the grief she experienced following the sudden death of her husband, the book has been said to be a “masterpiece of two genres: memoir and investigative journalism.”

In 2007, Didion received the National Book Foundation’s annual Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. From the citation: “An incisive observer of American politics and culture for more than forty-five years, her distinctive blend of spare, elegant prose and fierce intelligence has earned her books a place in the canon of American literature as well as the admiration of generations of writers and journalists.” This same year, Didion also won the Evelyn F. Burkey Award from the Writers Guild of America.

In 2009, Didion was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters degree by Harvard University. Yale Universityconferred another honorary Doctor of Letters degree on the writer in 2011. On July 3, 2013 the White Houseannounced Didion as one of the recipients of the National Medals of Arts and Humanities, to be presented by President Barack Obama. In 2010 Didion had complained that under Obama the U.S. had become “an irony-free zone”.

Sources

The New York Times Magazine.

 

from “It’s Decorative Gourd Season, Motherfuckers” by Colin Nissan

“It’s Decorative Gourd Season” by Colin Nissan published at McSweeney’s is an Eckleburg favorite.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to get my hands on some fucking gourds and arrange them in a horn-shaped basket on my dining room table. That shit is going to look so seasonal. I’m about to head up to the attic right now to find that wicker fucker, dust it off, and jam it with an insanely ornate assortment of shellacked vegetables. When my guests come over it’s gonna be like, BLAMMO! Check out my shellacked decorative vegetables, assholes. Guess what season it is—fucking fall. There’s a nip in the air and my house is full of mutant fucking squash….

About McSweeney’s

McSweeney’s Publishing is an American non-profit publishing house founded by editor Dave Eggers in 1998, headquartered in San Francisco. McSweeney’s initially published only the literary journal Timothy McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, but has grown to publish novels, books of poetry, and other periodicals.

The recipient of dozens of awards for its contributions to literature and publishing, McSweeney’s was named the country’s seventh most innovative media company for 2012, “for proving the value of print publishing.”

In December 2006, Advanced Marketing Services, which had been the parent company of McSweeney’s distributor Publishers Group West (PGW) since 2002, declared bankruptcy. At the time of the filing, PGW owed McSweeney’s about $600,000. McSweeney’s eventually accepted an offer from Perseus Books Group to take over distribution; the deal paid McSweeney’s 70 percent of the money owed by PGW. In June 2007, McSweeney’s held a successful sale and eBay auction which helped make up the difference.

McSweeney’s has expanded its operations into partnerships with companies including eyewear one-for-one Warby Parker and accommodations marketplace Airbnb. The musician Beck has worked in tandem with Warby Parker and McSweeney’s to design a custom pair of spectacles. In addition to its FastCompany award, McSweeney’s has received “best of” awards and plaudits from SF Weekly and other several other publications.

The company’s archives, including rare material from its founding and its early history, are held in the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas.

In October 2014, founder Dave Eggers announced that McSweeney’s will become a nonprofit and began asking for donations for several projects on its website. Eggers cited declining sales and increased opportunities for raising funds as reasons for McSweeney’s long-discussed change to a nonprofit publishing house.