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Episode Description

The Great Concavity (https://twitter.com/ConcavityShow) is inspired by the debate in David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest.

In this initial episode, we introduce ourselves and talk a little about what a DFW podcast might entail.

Matt Bucher (https://twitter.com/mattbucher) and David Laird (https://twitter.com/DaveLaird2) scholars and fans of David Foster Wallace have created the first regular Podcast devoted to Wallace.

Show Notes

(00:00) - Intro (01:08) - Matts Background (01:10) - wallace-l (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Pynchon) (01:55) - Howling Fantods (http://www.thehowlingfantods.com/dfw/) (02:50) - Thomas Pynchon (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Pynchon) (05:04) - Sideshow Media Group (http://sideshowmediagroup.com) (05:12) - Elegant Complexity (05:12) - Natures Nightmare (http://www.amazon.com/Natures-Nightmare-Analyzing-Wallaces-

Oblivion/dp/098893051X/)

(13:02) - Academic Papers (14:21) - Daves Background (14:55) - The Ogopogo (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ogopogo) (15:10) - Infinite Jest/Molly Notkin/Joelle van Dyne (17.30) - Roberto Bolano (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roberto_Bolaño) (18:51) - Don DeLillo (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_DeLillo) (20:00) - Chris Adrian/McSweeneys (http://www.mcsweeneys.net) (21:45) - Cormac McCarthy (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cormac_McCarthy) (24:00) - The Pale King/ Chris Fogel (26:48) - Jonathan Lethem (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_Lethem) (29:34) - First Annual DFW conference (36:48) - Special Thanks

People Mentioned

David Foster Wallace (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Foster_Wallace) Nick Maniatis (https://twitter.com/nick_maniatis) Thomas Pynchon (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Pynchon) John Bucher (http://johnbucher.org/) Greg Carlisle (http://www.amazon.com/Natures-Nightmare-Analyzing-Wallaces-

Oblivion/dp/098893051X/)

David Hering (http://www.amazon.com/Consider-David-Foster-Wallace-Critical/dp/0976146576/) Cormac Mcarthy (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cormac_McCarthy)

Don DeLillo (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_DeLillo) Roberto Bolano (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roberto_Bolaño) Jonathan Franzen (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_Franzen) George Saunders (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Saunders)

Jeffrey Eugenides (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeffrey_Eugenides)

William T. Vollmann (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_T

Rick Moody (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rick_Moody) Chris Adrian (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Adrian) Adam Levin (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adam_Levin) Beth Nugent (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beth_Nugent) Larry McCaffery (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larry_McCaffery) Jonathan Lethem (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_Lethem) William Faulkner (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Faulkner)

John Updike (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Updike)

Vollmann)

DAVE

Well, Welcome everybody to the first episode of The Great Concavity. So, were talking about conversations around David Foster Wallace - that is - his literature, biography stuff, interesting news, and things like that. So, the plan, hopefully, is to have some kind of bi-weekly or monthly podcast with news, current events, topics, and interviews with all kinds of fascinating people (like academics, writers, artists, musicians, filmmakers). Who else, Matt?

MATT

Thats a pretty good start. I mean there is, like, a David Foster Wallace community, right? Like, at least to me there is, like a group of people that consistently still talk about this stuff and post about it. And, I think therell be a lot of interest about Wallace in the near future because of this film. So, maybe that will be a topic we will discuss.

DAVE

So Matt, Who are you? For our listeners at home, whats a bit about Matt Bucher and what are some of your interests in Wallace?

MATT

My biography is (I feel not that interesting, but) how I am somewhat involved in this is that I am the administrator of the David Foster list serve, called wallace-l (https://waste.org/mailman/listinfo/wallace-l) And, Ive been in that role since 2002. When I first discovered the David Foster Wallace list serve there wasnt a lot out there online about Wallace. It was about 1999/1998 that I discovered this email list and I joined and I loved it. And the other thing that existed at the time was Howling Fantods (http://www.thehowlingfantods.com/dfw/), Nicks site in Australia. So, those two things have been around for a long time, but list serve is coming up on twenty years, next year, of existing. So, it will be twenty years of those email lists and some of the same people have been on the list for 20 years. Like I said, Ive been on it about fifteen/sixteen years - something like that.

DAVE

So you didn't actually start it?

MATT

Thats correct. I didnt actually start it. I wrote, like, a little history of it if you would like to read more about this online. But, it was started by a spin-off group of the Pynchon list (Thomas Pynchon) and Pynchon just doesnt write that many books, right? So every few years there would be some other new novelist that comes along; gets compared to Pynchon and they would talk about him on the email list. And, when Wallace came out with Infinite Jest there was so much chatter about Infinite Jest they said, Why don't you go out and start your own list?This is in 1996. So, thats sort of how that came about.

But me, just a little more about me and I want to get your kind of background in here Dave because I don't know if a lot of people know anything about either one of us.

Yeah. Im a nobody. So

DAVE

MATT

So am I. Its at waste.org I was gonna say if you want to go and sign up. Good luck finding it.

DAVE

And, also its a lower-case Lnot an upper-case L. So, Ive always not been sure if it's wallace i(capital i) or lower-case L. So, thats good to know.

Its a rookie mistake, Dave.

MATT

Its Wallace L. I did the same thing when I first joined. I think I tried to send it to wallace-1; I wasnt sure if it was an i. It didn't work. But, the Lis for literature. Its a spinoff of old news groups that would have literature categories.

Right.

DAVE

Speaking of Thomas Pynchon. I went to the infinite Wallace Conference in Paris at the Sorbonne and one of the guys gave a talk called Covered in P. And, it was about David Foster Wallace and Thomas Pynchon. So, like, capital pand it was, you know, the funniest title of all the papers at the conference and everyone got all kinds of laughs out of it.

MATT

Thats a great very provocative title. Im not sure what it has to do with Pynchon.

DAVE

Well the P is standing for Pynchon. Wallace is covered in Pynchon.

Oh. OK.

MATT

DAVE

Not Urine. Im not talking about urine. So the word play is quite funny.

Totally misunderstood that.

MATT

DAVE

Yeah, it's easier if you see it in writing versus hear it audibly.

Ok. Covered in P. Got it

MATT

So, I was just gonna say a little more about my background. I also have some involvement in this community with my kind of side business with my older brother John and our company Sideshow Media Group (http://sideshowmediagroup.com). And, weve published several books on Wallace - including Greg Carlisles Elegant Complexity and his book on Oblivion called Natures Nightmare. And the book edited by David Hering called Consider David Foster Wallace.

DAVE

Yes. I have that on my book table.

MATT

I got involved in that because we had done some books before but I had always wanted to do something on Wallace and Greg had already written this book in 2005/2006 and really couldn't find a publisher for it. And, at the time - ten years ago - there was not the same market for, you know, kind of ancillary critical works on David Foster Wallace. And, Greg was ready to just give up and not publish it. And, I said, Woah. Woah. Woah. Well find a way to make this work because I think therell be an audience for it.And, since then as a readers guide to Infinite Jest it's been, you know, very successful. And, when his book on Oblivion came out I wrote an interview on Nicks site (thehowlingfantods.com) kind of, like, trashing the traditional publishers who I think should have embraced this idea ten years about. And now Bloomsbury has, like, fifteen books on Wallace out. And, Bloomsbury I felt like would have done it ten years ago.

DAVE

Right. Interesting. That book, Elegant Complexity, is, like, practically the size of Infinite Jest, eh?

MATT

Its 500 and something pages.

DAVE

It is so, so big. I havent had a chance to read it.

MATT

Were talking about, right now, maybe in the next year or two were going to do a new edition of it. And, we might try to slim it down a little bit, but I think thats actually as selling point of it. Its as long as it needs to be.

DAVE

Yeah. And, like, this is a comprehensive book.

And, you're located where, Matt?

I live in Austin, TX

MATT

DAVE

Thats a nice little detail for Wallace fans because of the Ransom Center archive.

MATT

Yeah, lucky for me I moved here before that Wallace archive existed.

 

DAVE

So, you're one of the cool kids

 

MATT

It sounds bad, right

 

DAVE

Yeah, thats great. The hipster Wallace fan.

 

MATT

Right.

 

DAVE

I have not had the chance to get there, yet. But, in the very near future Id like to.

There was kind of, like, (at the Paris conference) almost like a geologic posturing of those who had been to the archive and those who hadnt; it was kind of like this badge that people were like, Ive seen the archive [inaudible].It was kind of funny.

 

MATT

Thats interesting.

 

DAVE

Yeah.

 

MATT

You know, I think its really valuable, but I also think most of it could be digitized - made available online. I don't know if that'll ever happen but theres chunks of it that already are available online.

DAVE

Yeah, that would be a very nice development for students who are either, like, cant get funding from their school to go there or just, like, dont have the time in their schedule to travel to Austin for a week or whatever. They can do it from the comfort of their own homes.

MATT

Yeah, whats become the real use of it is almost, like, a religious pilgrimage. Where the Ransom Center probably hates this, but theres people who want to go in there and just handle his books and papers. And they can. The Ransom Center is publicly funded - partially by the University of Texas, which is funded by the State of tax payers. So they do allow people to go in and view things. There are some off limits things. You cant hold the Gutenberg Bible they have. But, most of the archives are working academic archives and you can go in there and get the orientation video and sign, you know, sign the papers and go and request his books and examine them. And, that is for some people, especially real hard core fans, thats almost, like, a religious experience. And, thats hard for some academics to take because academics job is partly to be detached and to cold and critical and not exuberant.

DAVE

Yeah, the dispassionate objectivity.

MATT

Yeah, so that doesn't really mesh up with fans who are really just in awe of the fact that they're holding a handwritten page of Infinite Jest. Its hard to detach, for some people, and say, Im just gonna be a cold critical eye here and look for marginalia. There are plenty of other people who want to just say, wow. To me, this is the most, you know, valuable book in my life or most prominent book in my life and now Im holding the original draft of it. Thats a pretty cool thing.

DAVE

Yeah, totally. And, I get a sense too, from Wallace scholars, that Ive met at conferences and stuff that theyre basically just, like, huge fans and then because of that they, you know, are like, Well, I can do some academic stuff with this too. Which is great because it piggybacks into what Im really interested in.

Is that a sense that you sort of get as well?

MATT

Yeah. I think theres a lot of that. Its about half and half. I think theres half that are not that way.

I think theres half that are, you know, American literature scholars and they're doing Jonathan

Franzen next week and Don DeLillo this week and David Foster Wallace next week. And, its just another stop in their tour. And then, I think there are others who are exactly what youre are saying - who are huge fans and are lifers and this is their bread and butter. But, I don't have a great sense of it.

DAVE

What is your, sort of academic background? So, you're in publishing. What is your sort of How did you get into literature, and maybe Wallace specifically?

MATT

Well, I don't have much of an academic background. I went to the University of Denver for Undergrad and we did have a good creative writing program there. And we had a lot of good PhD. students in Creative Writing. Its one of the few schools which you can get a PhD. in Creative Writing. And, so, we had writers coming in there all the time and there was one writer in particular who I think introduced me to Wallace. And, it was my teacher, this woman named Beth Nugent, and if you haven't read her shes phenomenal. I think she only has two books out

that I know of but they're phenomenal books. And, she (to her credit) in 95/96 had us reading excerpts of Wallaces stuff. And, I was slightly impressed but it didnt make a huge impression on me until I saw Infinite Jest at the bookstore. So, for me that was a game changer on Wallace

- whenever I bought Infinite Jest in 97 or so. And then, after that I moved to New York City and worked in college publishing there at Columbia and NYU. So, I mean I was on the fringes of academia. I would go to academia, like, I would go to academic conferences but as an exhibitor selling books. Almost as a bookseller and publisher.

DAVE

So, you're like a hardcore bibliophile essentially.

Pretty much.

MATT

DAVE

You have also presented academic papers at conferences as well.

MATT

A couple. A couple. And, Im not sure Ill ever do it again. Its such torture, man. The writing of

them, like,

Yeah. Its pretty rough.

DAVE

MATT

I have total respect for people who do it but it is really difficult to write an academic paper. Its really stressful to me.

DAVE

Yeah. Yeah, it kind of opens you up to this level of scrutiny that you don't really experience a lot

in your regular life because everyone just feels like everyone is just silently deconstructing you

as you're reading it.

In my experience, Ive only actually presented one academic paper at a conference and that was at the second annual David Foster Wallace conference that we met at recently, in May.

And, that was my first conference paper. So, it was somewhat terrifying, but the response was awesome. And, I think the Wallace community is super cool and super friendly. I just made lots

of friends after I gave my paper. It was great. I had all these people wanting to talk to me about

Walter [inaudible] cause I made, like, a very brief one off reference to him in my paper. And then, that sort of, just oddly opened the flood gates for conversation. That was the thing that

people wanted to talk about. So, I thought that was quite fun.

What about you?

MATT

DAVE

So, a bit about me. Matt, you're down in Austin, Texas. Im up in Kelowna, B.C. Canada. So most of you listeners probably have never heard of this place. So, its close to Vancouver. Its about four hours east of Vancouver. The Olympics were there in 2010. So, like, youve probably heard of Vancouver by now, hopefully. Kelowna is kind of like an orchard-y, like, vineyard-kind- of-place (100,000 people- 150,000 people). Some famous things Kelowna is known for is we have this mythological lake monster called the Ogopogo, which is also a palindrome - you can spell it the same backwards as forwards, which is pretty rad.

So, I mentioned orchards. Theres like, all kinds of apple orchards and stuff. I was just going through Infinite Jest the other day for my masters thesis research and theres a part in it where Joelle van Dyne (shes at Molly Notkins party) and she references British Columbia apple juice

as quote, extra sweet Canadian juice to be pretty much her and Joelles biggest vices” “the kind

it looks muddy its so fresh. And then it's described as Mattelike, matte-colored as well, this particular apple juice. And, I mean, thats saying quite a lot. Joelle is more addicted to this

muddy apple juice than her vice, you know when she goes to have too much fun in the bathroom. But anyways, that juice is probably from my city or the surrounding area. Fun little fact.

 

MATT

I

dont remember that part of the book.

 

DAVE

Yeah, its pretty obscure. Its on page 228. I didnt memorize that. I pre-wrote it down before this recording. It just struck me as yeah, thats something cool I can talk about; that Wallace fans might remember.

In terms of career, Im actually a high school Humanities teacher. Ive been teaching for about seven years in both campuses and, also, the school I teach for has a big online school in B.C. so I teach for them. And, I teach things like English and Socials and Media studies and a bit of Theology stuff. Right out of high school, I did one semester of business which was definitely not my realm. But my dad was, like, a business guy. So hes like you should go in Business.and I was like, OK. And then, I did a year of Theology in [inaudible] school in California. And then, I did my degree here at UBC, which is the University of British Columbia- Okanagan. They have a little satellite campus here. And I did a History major/English minor and then and Education degree right after that. Then after teaching for five or six years I decided to go back and do a MA. So, Im back doing that now and I had to upgrade to an English major. So, I had to do four undergrad courses and then I could register for the MA. So, thats where Im at now. Im almost done. So, Im just working on my thesis which is on Infinite Jest and Theology. So, that is sort of the academic stuff that I do with Wallace.

Matt, what are some other lets say authors that you're interested in, that you might kind of relate to Wallace. What are some books that you've been reading that you might be able to make comparisons to.

MATT

I dont know if anyone really compares to him extremely well, but me personally I have an

interest in the writer Roberto Bolano and I have a website that I update, somewhat sporadically about Bolano. And, he also doesnt compare well to too many other people except for his books are lengthy. I read a lot and its hard for me to put things into categories and group things together very well. But, basically anyone that comes out and is compared to Wallace, Im going to give them a look. So, book marketers and publishers use that a lot as Oh this guys the next Wallaceor This is like Infinite Jestand Ill at least take a look at anyone compared with him.

And in that group of people that he had, I probably have an opinion on all those people:

Saunders, Franzen, Eugenides, Vollmann, Rick Moody - all those guys I have an opinion about them, but I don't know. What about you?

DAVE

The way that I got into Wallace was through Don DeLillo, And so, I kind of, in my twenties, didnt give fiction a lot of attention. I was mostly interested in non-fiction stuff. But, then I read White Noise in a third year American lit. class and I was like, Oh wow, I need to read more of the books that are like this.So, that sent me kind of on a trajectory. And, mostly I did a lot of

research on, like, Amazon. People who bought White Noise also bought this book. And, almost through doing a lot of that; kind of like rabbit-holing on Amazon I started writing down lots of books that looked interesting. And, then I had a really good friend who was quite into American lit. So, he was kind of like You should read this as welland thisand this.So, I read Infinite Jest for the first time in 2007. So, about eight years ago now. So, I was pretty far behind the curve in terms of it coming out in 1996.

 

MATT

Nah.

 

DAVE

No? Not too far behind the curve?

 

MATT

Nah. No youre not too far.

 

DAVE

Im a David Foster Wallace Poser.

 

MATT

No. No, no, no. no. I dont want you to ever think that. Dont ever say that about anyone.

DAVE

No. No. I was totally just kidding.

Yeah, Chris Adrians a writer that I really like, out of San Fransisco, hes published some stuff through McSweeneys (http://www.mcsweeneys.net). And, I tend to like a lot of the McSweeneys novels that they publish.

Adam Levin is another guy that I really like. The instructions is a book that he wrote; also by McSweeneys. And his book gets compared to Wallace because his book, The Instructions, is properly massive. Like, its well over a thousand pages. Have you had a chance to check that one out at all.

MATT

You know - we discussed this earlier - I have not read it. I have read the Chris Adrian stuff, but Ive got that on my list now of thousand-page-people. So thats one I remember it coming out and it was a massive book; like a phone book size. Its just a huge book. And, my friend had it at his house and, like, I would take it off the shelf and just look at it and be like Wow. This thing is huge. I should read some of it.And, I read a couple pages. I don't remember any of it. So I really need to go back to that book.

DAVE

It looks like an Oxford English dictionary in terms of size. Its actually way lighter than Infinite Jest; for whatever reason, the composition of the pages is lighter. But it is way bigger looking than Infinite Jest, but it's actually a lot of a faster read. Theres no footnotes. You're not flipping back and forth. So, it is actually a pretty quick read considering how large it is. But, I love it - I would say its probably in my top-3 favorite novels. Its so, so funny and engaging. Its worth checking out.

Cormac McCarthy, I like a lot.

Hes great. Of course.

MATT

DAVE

I teach English 11 and I did The Road with my class (This was a few years ago). Which was a

bit of a risk in terms of like, Hey Parents, heres this really dark book that Im going to read with your kids. I hope thats cool.but it went over quite well. Students, generally, liked it quite a lot. And, teaching literature at that level - I kind of prefaced the course by quoting from Wallace, from the McCaffery interview (the 51% pain/49% pleasure ratio that he talks about with high art. Where commercial art is 100% pleasure) as a touchstone throughout the course. And, kids after the road were like, You just gave us a book thats 100% pain, and like 0% pleasure. So, wheres that true?So that was funny. Its very bleak but I think theres some very beautiful, redemptive imagery in it as well. But, yeah it's not for the faint of heart.

MATT

I like it. I dont think its his best work. For me, I really like The Crossing. I dont know if you've read that book. Blood Meridian and the Crossing- thats about as good as it gets.

DAVE

Yeah, Blood Meridian is just wild.

MATT

I highly recommend it. Its part of that boarder trilogy where the Crossing Cities of The Plain and

All The Pretty Horses. Of all of those, I really like The Crossing and it starts out with one of the best sequences of this guy taking a wolf back to Mexico. I really think that part of it in particular

is maybe the best thing McCarthys done. I mean, Blood Meridian is fantastic to me but its also like, so gruesome toward the end. Theres so much - I feel like - sensationalism in it.

DAVE

Yeah, pornographic violence almost.

MATT

Theres that one line in it where it talks about a native American getting his head quartered. Like, he gets shot in the head and it says “….his head is quartered. You can see like one fourth this guys map just get totally erased.

DAVE

So, Matt you also gave a paper at the conference that was Theologically geared. What was the title of your paper, again?

MATT

I forgot about that. My paper was about the part of The Pale King that I call the Fogel Novella

(section 22) about a character named Chris Fogel and his sort of conversion to the IRS. And, hes a guy who converts sort of from a life of being a wastoid into being a tax examiner working for the IRS. And, I thought it was one of the most interesting things Wallace has written. Like, why is he interested in this, you know, sort of Christian conversion narrative of a guy who has

sinned and done bad and now hes gonna go straight and do right? Why is he writing so much about this guys life story and life history? Why is he sort of playing around with that in this book?

I found it interesting because it means this book is not really about boredom and tax and this

stuff that it appears to be at the surface. I think its about something deeper than that. And, its about being an adult and going straight and being a responsible citizen and how do you really live a life like that. What does life mean? Thats what I was trying to write about.

DAVE

And you do some really interesting comparisons with St. Paul and this character, Chris Fogel.

MATT

Yeah, I thought Pauls conversion story was really interesting because he saw this very bright light and then he also heard this loud voice and thats what convinced him to give up his ways of persecuting his church and become a follower of Jesus. But, really it was the sound that convinced him to convert and the same thing happened in pre-literate society they relied on sound and talking and voice. They didnt rely on people reading a book to convert to religion, and this idea of sermons and preaching was really important, really, to the spread of religion and Christianity, as we know it, up until really the 20th century. And, in the 19th century and 18th century, you know, sermons were how they converted people. So, I think it's important in the book Fogel is giving, sort of, a testimony and what converts him is listening to someone elses sermon (actually from a Jesuit priest who is a substitute teacher at his college).

DAVE

Yeah, and thats, like, one of the best scenes in Pale King. Its so interesting

MATT

Now, Dave your paper was about Chronic City. Is that right?

DAVE

Yeah, it was about Jonathan Lethems Chronic City and sort of the influence or the shadow of

David Foster Wallace in that book. If you've read that book

takes place in this kind of, like, weird futurist

and theres this, like, ubiquitous chocolate smell and this, like, fog that just sticks around forever.

Everyones lives are very much based upon appearance and theres just all these really wacky and weird things going on in that book. But, theres a novelist characters talk about called Ralph Warden Meeker in that book and then they go on to describe his gargantuan novel Obstinate

Dust. So, its a pretty heavy-handed Wallace reference. And, then the way they describe the book is like a brick of pages, as a big novel, and all all this other stuff. Its quite funny and then theres this artist in the book - in Chronic city - called Laird Noteless. And, he makes this huge art installation in Manhattan, called (not the Great Concavity but) Urban Fjord. And so, like, the

protagonist takes this book Obstinate Dust and he goes and sees

edge of this, essentially, its a big garbage dump; people have, like, thrown their waste into it. So, its kind of, like, signaling the Great Concavity - kind of idea. And, so hes sick of this book and how big it is and hes lugging it around everywhere. So he throws it into the Urban Fjord and, like, almost dislocates his shoulder in the process. Its, like, this really funny kind of meta thing of, like, the death of the author and throwing this thing into the concavity. Its all very meta and all that kind of stuff.

people

whove read that book, it

well

not futurist but just, like, bizarre Manhattan

he

goes and stands at the

So my paper was just unpacking that but then also making the point that there are these kind of hopeful moments. Particularly, around this one architectural object of a church pyre in Manhattan and how the characters living in this world of simulation, simulacrum, he, kind of, has these moment of authenticity all based around this object. So Im kind of making the argument that, like, theres some kind of, maybe, possible alignment between Lethems literary ethos and some of the stuff we see in Wallace in terms of, like, Wallace calling for a generation of literary rebels who will, like, care about single [inaudible] principles and stuff like that. So its a bit, like, paratextual in some senses, but that was kind of the main gist of my paper at the conference. So, Matt you were there last year at the conference in 2014? The first annual.

MATT

Right. In 2014, it was the first annual David Foster Wallace conference in Bloomington, IL. And, I wasnt sure what to expect but I definitely wanted to go and check it out. So, I went and I had a great time in terms of meeting new people, meeting people who I had met only online before. And, it was a really interesting conference because it was a mix of academic people who were undergrads, grad students, people who were not students at all and just interested in Wallace. So, I think that sort of dynamic is, somewhat, rare. A lot of obscure single author conferences dont attract a ton of public or even fans. There are some, like, it doesn't compare it with something like William Faulkner who has a huge conference every year and theres tour buses full of people touring his childhood home and stuff. But, that sort of canonization happened pretty quickly and Faulkner was not a huge hero, you know, immediately upon his death the way Wallace was. It will be interesting to see how Wallace turns out. There might well come a time when there are tours of his childhood home or statues of him, and that has happened say with John Updike. The John Updike Society actually purchased, recently, Updikes childhood home. And, they are in the process of restoring it, and I assume there will be tours, and they do have an annual conference. So, there is some precedent for this. I think it's rare just that Wallace has such cultural cache and cultural awareness of people are way more interested in him. It seems that Wallace still matters a lot more than John Updike or even Faulkner, maybe.

DAVE

And, like, youre seeing a lot of David Foster Wallace and Infinite Jest references in pop culture these days, as well. I think that kind of speaks to the urgency or the relevancy of people really are caring a lot about David Foster Wallace at present. You know, The Simpsons episode on the cruse ship; you see Wallace in the background in his tuxedo t-shirt kind of thing. Theres a tv show called The Affair, that came out last year. Theres a scene where, like, just these teachers in this room that are, kind of, on probation, or whatever. One guys reading Infinite Jest and then the protagonist comes in and theyre taking about this books. And, he's like Oh yeah, I tried to read that, like, two or three times and I could never get through it.And they have a fairly extensive conversation about it, you know. Did you see that movie, Liberal Arts?

MATT

No.

DAVE

Ok, so it's set at Kenyon College and

like, several scenes where characters talk about this great big book. They never actually flash the cover or never mention David Foster Wallace, but all the ways that they describe the book; its very clear thats what they are talking about. So, theres just, like, (I mean theres lots of other examples) like the tv show New Girl and all these other ones where they're mentioning David Foster Wallace. Hes becoming - yeah like you said - cache ideas, even in pop culture hes, kind of, not just, like, a literary figure but also, like, a pop culture figure, as well.

which

is obviously significant for Wallace. And, theres,

MATT

Yeah, and I think academically someone like Faulkner probably matters a lot more or is a lot more cited and important to the cannon maybe of American history/American literature. But, Wallace does matter and is growing in his reputation. So, I think it's important for, you know, recognizing when academics do take note of him and put on conferences and organize papers and books around him. That is something that doesn't happen for every author no matter their age or, you know, how long they've been deceased.

DAVE

Yeah, totally. So youre experiences at the conferences have been awesome, you would say? The people have been very cool?

MATT

The people have been very cool and I hope that the conference continues. I really hope that ISU buys into the conference and sponsors it, you know, for the long term. I don't know if thats true or not. It seems still a little early in the game; a little precarious after two years that even though they have had an international conference on their hands and people coming from the UK and Australia to attend this conference (**Canada). They still don't seem like they've fully invested in it.

DAVE

Right. Like, I heard some rumors that it might run in LA next year or something, but I don't know if thats true.

MATT

I think its all just rumors at this point until we know anything, but it would be nice it was in the same place year after year.

Yeah. Yeah, totally.

DAVE

Yeah so, my experience at the conferences has been totally cool, socially. Everyone that appears to attend these Wallace Conferences are just very cool, down to earth, interesting people to talk to. I don't really get the sense that its this really competitive academic exercise. Most people seem to be there just because they're interested and they just want to talk about Wallace. And, I think thats quite cool.

I described my experience at the first conference in Paris last year to some of the other

attendees the last night over drinks. To me, it sort of felt like a high school reunion of a bunch of strangers. And, like, their collective memories rather than, like, being stories from their senior year where like the collective memories were like scenes from Infinite Jest. And, you know, were all just reminiscing together and laughing and like, Oh yeah this scene about [inaudible] and this scene about the [inaudible] tongue scraper adsand, like, all that stuff. And it just, like, it had a very collegial feeling like everyone was on the same team. And, like, everyone just loves this writing so much and it's been such a formative part of who they are, in a literary sense (probably also in a personal sense for a lot of people, as well). So, my experiences at those two conferences have been just very awesome.

MATT

I was gonna say, one thing thats very different about the 2015 conference is the fact that we

had the film there and we really got a private screening in a great old historic theatre of The End

of the Tour. And, that added a lot - I think - to the conference.

And, were about out of time on this show today but I think thats something we will discuss in depth on the show later because Im really curious to get your opinion on the film and what you think about Jason Segels portrayal.

Yeah. Yeah, it was very

really

DAVE

interesting to see how he pulled that off.

MATT

Well, that about wraps it up on my end.

DAVE

Cool. Is there anyone that you want to thank, Matt, for supporting you on the first episode of The Great concavity.

MATT

I want to thank Dave Laird. I want to thank my family and about you, Dave?

DAVE

no

I dont really have anyone. How

I want to thank my wife Rachel. She actually came up with the idea for this podcast. We were on

a road trip about a month ago and she's like, Are there any podcasts specifically dedicated to

Wallace?and I said No there arent. I check iTunes all the time theres, you know, one off episodes on, like, Slate and other things about him but theres no actual dedicated podcast. And shes like Well, you should start it.I was like, No. That sounds terrifying. Who am I?And,anyway shes just been really encouraging about it and then I pitched it to you and you were like, Yeah, cool. Lets give it a shot.So thank you Matt Bucher, as well, for being willing to try this.

Thank you, Rachel.

MATT

DAVE

Also, I want to thank my friend Aaron Cassidy, who is a podcaster from Kelowna. He has a board game podcast called Boards Alive. And, hes been very helpful with just telling me about technical things about how to do podcasting. So, thanks Aaron.

MATT

Also, a huge thanks to the visual artist Robyn Oneil for allowing us to use her amazing graphite- on-paper piece for our podcast icon - which has the very loquacious, and I dare say, Wallicean title of These Final Hours Embrace at Last, This is Our Ending, This is Our Past.

You can check out more of her stunning work at her website, (robynoneil.com) as well as get a sense of her literary proclivities on her very own podcast Me Reading Stuff - on which she recently read the first piece from Wallaces Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, entitled a Radically Condensed History of Postindustrial Life.

Were in talks with Robyn about having her on the show soon, as a guest. So, keep your fingers crossed for that. She is a huge Wallace fan. So, that would be awesome; to have her on.

Thanks again, Robin, for your support for this show as well.

DAVE

And, also a big thanks to the band Parquet Courts for allowing us to use their song, Instant Disassembly as the intro and outro music - which is from their album Sun Bathing Animal.

If you are an exhibitionist and have any questions, comments, or are just in the mood for some

friendly bander and want to say Hito us, you can get in touch on Twitter at the handle @ConcavityShow or, if you're a bit more agoraphobically inclined, you can send us an email at concavityshow@gmail.com

Finally, if you are a hardcore audio-weenie we apologize greatly for what has probably been a very horrendously recorded episode here. This is a totally DIY endeavor, which has meant me just watching Audacity tutorials on Youtube and trying to figure out how to do this stuff myself. So, hopefully this will improve as the show progresses.

So, any last thoughts, Matt?

No.

MATT

DAVE

Ok, great. Well thank you very much for listening to the first episode of the Great Concavity and if you liked it, and if you feel like it, you can leave a review on iTunes.

Thanks for listening.