David Foster Wallace, Magazine Writer


Tremendous interview at the House Next Door between Jeremiah Kipp and Glenn Kenny–who edited two of David Foster Wallace’s best nonfiction pieces (“David Lynch Keep’s His Head” and “Big Red Son”) for Premiere Magazine–covering everything from what Wallace was like to work with to the nuts and bolts of reporting at the AVN convention:

JK: It seems like there were a great deal of behind-the-scenes struggles with running “Big Red Son” in Premiere –what’s the story behind this piece?

GK: It was the most fun and the most painful thing, really. I guess it was summer of 1997 when we were talking about porn. He was in the middle of writing Brief Interviews With Hideous Men, because I know that his short story “Adult World” directly came out of his porn research. “Big Red Son” and “Adult World” complement each other. I guess he had been approached by Spin and he suggested writing about the AVN Awards under a pseudonym, because he had told his agent he wasn’t going to do magazine work for two years. But he was interested enough in this topic that he was willing to go back on it, and didn’t want his name plastered all over magazine covers looking like he had lied. Then he remembered he had discussed the idea with me, and wanted Premiere to have a crack at this piece. That’s where it started. Spin didn’t get the piece, which is sad for them, but the thing that I had, which was great for the piece, was knowing the Hustler writer Evan Wright, and I also knew Scotty Schwartz, the former child actor who had gone into porn, sort of, and these guys were going to be able to introduce us to all these porno people. We definitely brought some more research mojo to the table than Spin in that respect, I guess. We ended up buying quite a few porno videocassettes and shipping them off to Dave in Normal, Illinois, where he’d take notes, send them back to us and we’d keep them because eventually we’d have to fact check. AVN was very excited about working with us, so they ended up sending us their magazine for quite some time. That magazine had the best ads in the history of magazines.

The interview goes on to reveal the real life analogues to Dick Filth and Harold Hecuba (hint: Kenny is one of them), which we always wondered about–though that part may have been public knowledge for years already, for all we know. [h/t Where You Go To Die]

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