Wednesday, September 17, 2008


yet another David Foster Wallace post...

In the late 90's I took one class with him at ISU. I talked my way into the class as i already had my undergrad and was spending a year taking only classes that i was really interested in...and he was teaching a class on the postmodern novel...he was kind enough to listen to my appeal and let me into a grad level english class that i had no business being in at that time.

But what a class! We read gaddis, delillo, cormac mccarthy, etc. To be honest, i just couldn't read through all of the gaddis, i love the delillo stuff, and mccarthy was kinda depressing. But that said, it was the most engaging class! The discussions transcended the conventional borders of any English classes i had previously experienced. Deep discussions that circled in and around math, science, history, rhetoric, and more. Truly educational.

On my final paper he drew the "style faerie"....and throughout my paper the "SF" pointed out every stupid grammatical mistake that i made...and believe me..i made a LOT of them.

I dug that paper up last night to read his comments...I can't believe that i handed in something as poorly written as i did to someone like him..someone that was that good at what they did. Someone that insightful. Someone in such deep and fantastic control of language and ideas. In the end i did fine on the paper and the class but i always felt bad about not proofing that paper. It was disrespectful to his craft.

P.S. He was also the first person i'd ever seen chew tobacco.


C-n-C said...

CL here. Didn't he actually chew tobacco in class? Seems like I remember stories of him bringing an old coffee can to class to spit in. I also remember Stacey (remember her? Scott and Jason will) telling me of his affinity for putting stickers on students' stories as a marker of his approbation (or disapprobation, as the case may be).

See ya next weekend!

MintyFresh_doubleA said...

he did. i think it was just a plastic bottle with a lid though.

Jason3525 said...

I never met DFW, but I knew his mom pretty well. Sally Foster Wallace was an English prof at Parkland College when The News-Gazette was still hosting the local spelling bee, which we held at Parkland over spring break each year. One year we decided to ask Parkland if they would provide us with a pronouncer, and they chose Sally. She's a gracious little white- haired lady with brains and kindness. I haven't seen her in a long time, but I feel terrible for her and her daughter in law.