David Foster Wallace's work tempts reviewers to applaud him in terms that alienate the rest of America. This is a sad thing, since Wallace deserves to be read, for pleasure, by a good many people. There are some obvious reasons why Wallace is such critical catnip— he mastered math, logic, Wittgenstein, and tennis by his late teens, and his grasp of language games is virtuosic. There's a geometry to his writing, a symmetry of levels and recursions, that makes it easy to admire his form and forget his purpose. This might be why Wallace is pointedly open about his literary themes and motivations, which, it turns out, are close to our own concerns— among them the difficulty of making... More >>>