Consider the Lobster
by Kevin Wilder
For #37 we popped in an abridged version of David Foster Wallace’s Consider the Lobster. The audiobook features four of the longer essays taken from the “real” version, tied together by what themes I’m not sure. (Question: Do abridged books count? My vote is yes, if only because I already abandoned another half-listened-to audiobook [or three] out of boredom. Naysayers feel free to speak your peace in the Comments section.)
Foster makes great observations, like: “As a tourist, you become economically significant but existentially loathsome, an insect on a dead thing.” He exhibits his strength as a reporter while researching questions that lack easy answers, such as: “Do lobsters feel pain?”
Dave Eggers has praised Wallace for having multiple writing styles and voices he can turn on and off at will (I wish I could find a link for this). In this recording, parenthetical asides are given an alternate, muffled recording sound, to keep the reader from getting confused. I’ve never read DFW’s fiction, which could be another goal to make before the year is over (I’m tempted to make Infinite Jest my final book this year, but this might be a little ambitious. I wouldn’t be opposed to waiting for INFINITE SUMMER in 2010, if it happens again.).
It’s difficult to imagine the author of these essays ending his own life a few years after their publication, but what’s done is done. This collection might have been a strange introduction to Wallace The Writer—outside of some interviews and an article he wrote about John McCain—but it’s also the only audiobook of his the Birmingham Public Library had on file (c’mon BPL, get it together).
Right now we’re taking a little too long to get through a modern poetry book. Also, did you get my note about the return of WEEKLY FIZZ?