Author affinity, like-mindedness, & self-amusement

Have you ever read anything by David Foster Wallace? Because of sister's recommendation, I'm currently reading a collection of his essays entitled A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, named for his essay by the same title. Brilliant. I'm telling you, this man is a glorious writer. Insightful and thought-proking and highly entertaining, to boot.

Among the reasons I so resonate to the essays I've read so far, is that his words are familiar in the way that makes you think, "Yes! Exactly! It's just the way I would have put it." (Only, never in my entire life have I yet been able to "put it" the way he does in a single one of his essays. He writes in the way I sometimes think inside my head while four million other thoughts are bouncing around with nothing to cling to, but can rarely articulate, whether through writing or speaking.

Earlier in the week when I was holding a sleeping baby, (no this is not a sneaky way to work a story about my perfect and adorable nephew into a perfectly baby-free blog entry,) and a million and four thoughts concerning The Meaning Of Life and What Is It I Want To Accomplish Next and How Is Life The Same And Different Than I Expected It To Be By This Point In My Existence, I read from the title essay and came to such a point when his writing merged with the feelings of affinity I've just mentioned, and I thought, "I'm going to have to blog about this guy and why I think he's so excellent, even though I'll probably not be able to pull it off and people will return to their regularly scheduled life events having realized that Melody Found Another Cool Writer but ho hum, so what. But I have to blog about him anyway."

Maybe the reason this passage I'm about to quote from made me laugh so hard is because while he's strung out on caffeine and I typically am not, his writing here is indicative of a thought process that's forever running through my mind and even if he's not Of The Attention Limited, (in fact, I have no idea whatsoever about the state his attention span,) it's still a great example (for those who've asked me to write more, still more, about what it's like to be ADD,) of how the minds of My People seem wired. Caffeine or not.

So how about the quote already? He's telling us about the final day, or one of the final days, of a cruise he went on in order to fulfill a writing assignment for Harper's Magazine, about such cruises. It's been quite a ride, so to speak, and he's telling us about eating in one of the ship's cafes...

...the tea isn't Lipton but Sir Thomas Lipton in a classy individual vacuum packet of buff-colored foil; the lunch meat is the really good fat- and gristle-free kind that gentiles usually have to crash kosher delis to get; the mustard is something even fancier-tasting than Grey Poupon that I keep forgetting to write down the brand of. And the Windsurf Cafe's coffee -- which burbles merrily from spigots in big brushed-steel dispensers -- the coffee is, quite simply, the kind of coffee you marry somebody for being able to make. I normally have a firm and neurologically imperative one-cup limit on coffee, but the Windsurf's coffee is so good,117 and the job of deciphering the big yellow Rorschachian blobs of my Navigation Lecture notes so taxing, that on this day I exceed my limit, by rather a lot, which may help explain why the next few hours of this log get kind of kaleidoscopic and unfocused.

117 And it's just coffee qua coffee -- it's not Blue Mountain Hazlenut Half-Caf or Sudanese Vanilla With Special Chicory Enzymes or any of that bushwa. The Nadir's is a level-headed approach to coffee that I hereby salute.

(Excerpt from A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, Chapter 13, pg. 333-334.)

Notice the usage, too, of footnotes. The way this man uses this literary tool slays me. Once there was a footnote and when I jumped to the bottom to see how he was going to further enlighten his readers, I merely read "Duh." Another time it was the even less-verbose "!" - a single exclamation mark said it all. Still others require a full page plus, in order to get his footnoted-point across.

Talking to my sister at great length about our now-mutual enjoyment of this book, I was trying to explain how strongly admire - and wish to emulate - people who can express themselves as well as Wallace can, and how sometimes the thoughts in my head are similar to his writing but so filled with excess "stuff" that gets in the way of my ever being able to make a point. She said, with a glint in her eye, "Well maybe you should read more writers like David Foster Wallace, and you could write something of genius too, and put all that excess stuff in footnotes!" Well there's an idea!

Anyway, you should check out this book. He's enormously funny and clearly a genius and in spite of the fact that he sometimes uses words I don't have time to look up but should, I think at least some of my regular readers would also get a kick out of his work.

Now I'm going to return to the essay about his time at the Illinois State Fair...