Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Bigger Fan

This is nothing new (it's almost two years old), but it is a nice little anecdote about David Foster Wallace's personal kindness. Rebecca Curtis, in the midst of a piece about the excellence of George Saunders's "Sea Oak," tells a story about writing DFW in January 2007 to ask him to provide a blurb for her book (incidentally, what chutzpah!):

Eight months ago, I wrote a letter to David Foster Wallace, on the thin premise that he teaches at my alma mater, in an attempt to get him to blurb my book. I was desperate. My publishers had hinted that if I didn't get a blurb soon, I was cooked. They'd sent me a list of writers, all of whose work I loathed, and urged me to contact them, praise them, and beg for blurbs. I felt I must keep my dignity. So I deleted the email with the list, and told my publishers I'd sent long letters to the writers but they never wrote back. Wallace (whose fiction is fabulous) is notoriously reclusive, and does not respond to missives. I wrote and swore to never demean him by going on about how much I like his work. Instead, I said that George Saunders, who'd been my teacher in the MFA program at Syracuse, is a fan. I said George teaches his stories, and mentioned a few remarks George makes when teaching them. Wallace answered that week (no blurb). He said, "I am 47,000,000 times a bigger fan of Saunders than he of me—trust me on this."

1 comment:

Kate in Chicago said...

Thanks. I started reading "Sea Oak" at work, and I really like it. I can see how they compare Saunders to Vonnegut.