David Blackburn

Across the literary pages | 18 April 2011

The Desert News, Utah, reports on the discovery of a 600 year old travel book, The Nuremburg Chronicle:

‘Rare-book dealer Ken Sanders has seen more than his share of old books. But he’s never seen one in Utah quite like ancient tome that made his jaw drop last weekend.

“It’s a real thrill and a treat to hold something in your hand that was new when Columbus discovered America and the New World,” he said of the dilapidated book that is more than 500 years old, making it one of the oldest books ever printed with movable type.’

David Baddiel considers (£) David Foster Wallace and The Pale King in the pages of the Times:

‘On hearing that I was an atheist, the Iranian comic Omid Djalili said to me: “But don’t you want to believe in God?” And I said: “Of course: that’s why I know He doesn’t exist.” Meaning that my opinion is that anything so intensely desired, so fervently hoped for by so many, must be a fantasy — anything that people want so much, they will eventually conjure into being. The desire, for me, marks out the myth.

I have, in the past, felt something similar about David Foster Wallace. Not as regards his existence — we have copious written evidence of that, whether it be the 1,104-page meisterwerk Infinite Jest, the extraordinarily detailed and researched nonfiction compiled in Consider the Lobster, or, published today (in the face, indeed, of his actual non-existence in the world), his posthumous novel, The Pale King — but his genius. I think I always felt that too many people wanted David Foster Wallace to be a Genius*: or, to be more exact, too many people wanted there to be a Greatest Living (American) Writer of a younger, more modern stamp than the old Roth-Updike-Bellow mould, and no one quite fitted the bill like DFW.’

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