January 21st, 2013
This book – a collection of essays, reviews, monographs and notes, interspersed with words and their meaning as culled from his notebooks – starts off with what is often known as his best piece of non-fiction, “Both Federer And Not”, about tennis professional Roger Federer as he plays Wimbledon. To be honest, non-fiction is a wonky term here, as DFW often twisted the truth his way.
In that essay, he wrote miraculously. Sadly, I’m not much into mathematics, so that piece went away. Also, the same thing for “The U.S. Open”, which is like the Federer piece but a lot less interesting. I’m not a tennis fan.
I am, however, into film, so reading his piece on “Terminator 2” is insightful and fun. As is “Twenty-four Word Notes”, about words and their meaning. His bit about a few note-worthy prose books – “Overlooked: Five Direly Underappreciated U.S. Novels >1960” – makes me want to go seek them out.
All in all, there are a few really great bits and bobs in here. DFW’s use of language is always truly wonderful and he is really good at writing non-fiction, but I much prefer his prose to this, completely speaking.
My selected quotes from the book are found here.