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On David Foster Wallace

Reconsidering the man, the meme, and the writing

“The reason it’s so hard to write a cruise piece is because of David Foster Wallace,” explains Lauren Oyler, a critic and the author of the novel Fake Accounts. In her recent Harper’s Magazine cover story, she takes on Wallace’s 1997 cruise essay, also published in Harper’s, as she describes her experience aboard the Goop cruise. “But I didn’t want it to just be a work of criticism reckoning with David Foster Wallace’s reputation,” Oyler adds. So her essay goes beyond reputation to discuss “male feminists,” class dynamics on cruise ships, and the tired nature of materialist critiques of wellness in order to—as she puts it in her essay—“unite irony and sincerity once and for all.”

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April 2022

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