Men Recommend David Foster Wallace to Me

Deirdre Coyle in Electric Literature:

ScreenHunter_2674 Apr. 21 19.30For a while, I was seeing a guy who really liked David Foster Wallace. He once forced me to do cocaine by shoving it inside me during sex. He wasn’t the first man to recommend Wallace, but he’s the last whose suggestion I pretended to consider. So while I’ve never read a book by Wallace, I’m preemptively uninterested in your opinion about it.

These recommendations from men have never inspired me to read Wallace’s magnum opus, Infinite Jest, or his essays, or stories, or even to take the path of least resistance and see the Jason Segel movie about him. Said recommendations have, however, festered over such a long period that they’ve mutated into deeply felt opinions about Wallace himself: namely, that he was an overly self-aware genius who needed a better editor and that I’d hate his writing.

Wallace-recommending men are ubiquitous enough to be their own in-joke. New York Magazine notes that “Wallace, too, has become lit-bro shorthand…some women [treat] ‘loves DFW’ as synonymous with ‘is one of those motherfuckers’” (hi, it’s me). When conservative Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch cited Wallace in a hearing, The New Republic asserted that “Wallace is the lingua franca of a certain subset of overeducated, usually wealthy, extremely self-serious (mostly) men.” Onion-esque news outlet Reductress clickbaited me perfectly with “Why I’m Waiting for The Right Man to Tell Me I Should Read ‘Infinite Jest.’” Wallace is on a list of books that literally all white men own.

More here.