Wednesday, May 6, 2009

DFW: The Mix

Over at Readerville, they're discussing a cool idea, the "short story mixtape." The idea is that you run off a collection of stories you like and give it to a friend, in the same way that you might make a mix tape (or, in latter days, a CD). 

I posted a comment, wherein I proposed a David Foster Wallace mixtape, five-sixths of which I actually did give to a friend recently:

"Good People"
"Good Old Neon"
"The Depressed Person"
"Forever Overhead"
"My Appearance"

What would your short story mixtape include?


Anonymous said...

First of all, thanks for the 5/6 of a mix tape. Second, this isn't really what you've asked for, but it came to me today when I was catching up with a friend who teaches American History.

I'm titling my mix tape Democracy Now (even though I've never listened to that show). It's a collection of essays, poems and short stories by four contemporary American writers who have made me think harder about what democracy is and what it means to be a writer and a citizen in a democratic country.

[1] “Cowboys v. Mounties” by Sarah Vowell
[2] “Poem of Disconnected Parts” by Robert Pinsky
[3] “The Red Bow” by George Saunders
[4] “The Forgetting” by Robert Pinsky
[5] “The Partly Cloudy Patriot” by Sarah Vowell
[6] “Immature Song” by Robert Pinsky
[7] “Authority and American Usage” by David Foster Wallace
[8] “CommComm” by George Saunders
[9] “Louie Louie” by Robert Pinsky
[10] “Host” by David Foster Wallace

All the Pinsky poems are from Gulf Music, the George Saunders stories from In Persuasion Nation, the David Foster Wallace essays from Consider the Lobster, and the Sarah Vowell essays from Partly Cloudy Patriot. All four of these volumes contain other fine work--though readers interested in more Sarah Vowell might be better advised to take up her most recent book, The Wordy Shipmates, which I prefer but found impossible to excerpt for inclusion in this exercise.

framiko said...

Great mixtape. I love mixes with a theme, and I also love ones whose selections rotate among a small number of artists. I did feel a pang upon seeing the last item, since "Host" was an essay that I skipped when reading that collection. I'll have to go back to it.

What about "Up, Simba"?

Anonymous said...

"Up, Simba" is full of interesting observations, but I couldn't help but feel as I was reading it that some of its most important insights into the theatricality of campaigning and the sycophantic relationship of the press corps to the politicians had already been covered by Joan Didion in her essay on the 1988 Bush-Dukakis campaign, "Insider Baseball" ( What I like about "Host" is that in the end it convinces me that its form (initially off-putting for its seeming gimmickry) really is the necessary embodiment of its thesis, that he is trying to give a demonstration of the democratic spirit as he's defined it in "Authority and American Usage": "[a spirit] that combines rigor and humility, i.e., passionate conviction plus a sedulous respect for the convictions of others." The obvious antithesis to this spirit is (spoiler alert) the "Host" himself, a Limbaugh-style radio personality. I think you'll like it.