Life, death, and hauntings: Interesting notes from the book world, Feb. 24 edition

I’m not a huge fan of art about artists making art, or creative writing about writers doing creative writing, for that matter, but Draft, a Journal of Process, got my attention this week with a page from the first draft of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest.

a page from the first draft of Infinite Jest

a page from the first draft of Infinite Jest, courtesy of Draft, The Journal of Process

Of course, each great book (or lousy book, for that matter) has a first draft sitting somewhere, and I’m not entirely certain what we think we can glean from the experience of looking at a page like this. But something about this page seems sacred, somehow. That isn’t to say I’m not depressed by the cult of personality that sprang up around Wallace after his death–as a long-time fan of his work, I find the prominence to which he rose immediately after his tragic death almost an insult to his life.

It’s for that reason that I’m pleased that The Believer has decided to re-run this 2003 conversation between Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace.

The Believer

The Believer Magazine

In a cultural moment when readers seem so interested in the sensational aspect of Wallace’s death, it’s good to remember the ways in which Wallace was a funny, honest, incredibly intelligent individual–so much more in life than in the tragedy of his death.

But that’s just the thing, isn’t it? Much as we might like to avoid it, the question of death keeps coming back around. I’d like to leave you the photos of Corinne May Botz, whose new book, Haunted Houses, is a photographic exploration of haunted houses across the country.

Corinne May Botz's Haunted Houses

Corinne May Botz's Haunted Houses

At The Rumpus, Botz says, “I think a lot of artists are haunted by memories…And the creative process allows one to revisit, reconstruct, and possibly lay the memories or ghosts to rest.” Maybe there’s more to artists and writers talking about art and writing than I’d like to admit.

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2 thoughts on “Life, death, and hauntings: Interesting notes from the book world, Feb. 24 edition

  1. I like the idea of authors being haunted by their memories and, even more, the notion that a draft of something can haunt us, that this page from DFW has become sacred, a page from a holy text, and that we’re now left to make something of it in his absence. For me, seeing this draft is sort of like being present for The Creation, for the dirt and heat and mortalness of it.

  2. Rachel, I think you’re right–it’s the closest we’ll come to seeing this great book being written. Thanks to you guys at Draft for making it available to everyone online!

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