Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself

A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace

[Amazon Link]

To straighten out the timeline: this 2010 book is (more or less) the transcript of a multi-day inteview the author, David Lipsky, carried out with David Foster Wallace (DFW) in 1996 during the end of DFW's book tour in support of his big novel, Infinite Jest. Lipsky was working under the aegis of Rolling Stone magazine, but (apparently) the article that was supposed to result didn't make it into print until after DFW's suicide in 2008 at the age of 46.

The book was made into a 2015 movie, The End of the Tour which I watched earlier this year. I guess I liked the movie well enough, and was enough of a DFW fan, to get this book from the Portsmouth Public Library.

DFW is, well, complex. (I can see how this might have gone disastrously, but he and Lipsky seem to have taken to each other.) He's both reclusive and revealing, depending on the subject. His tastes are varied; he is, of course, up to speed on his writing peers, knowledgable about literary theory, able to rattle off paragraphs about it. On the other hand his current reading is an (unnamed) novel by Robert Heinlein. And he's most fond of movies "with things that blow up". (He and Lipsky take time out to go see Broken Arrow at the Mall of America.)

Along the way: a considerable amount of biography, musings about fame, drugs, dogs, old TV shows, women, and more. Some insightful comments. (And other asides that sound a lot more profound than they are: see the book title.) There's remarkably little politics: I was somewhat surprised to see DFW mention Hayek's The Road to Serfdom (I think) favorably. But he's fashionably down on actual conservative politicians, referring, e.g., to the "Reagan spasm".

Oh, yeah: prodigous amounts of tobacco are consumed over the course of the book. (For DFW, both cigarettes and chaw.)