Ramblings & ephemera

Why David Foster Wallace used footnotes

From D. T. Max’s “Notes and Errata*: A DFW Companion Guide to ‘The Unfinished’” (The Rumpus: 31 March 2009):

He explained that endnotes “allow . . . me to make the primary-text an easier read while at once 1) allowing a discursive, authorial intrusive style w/o Finneganizing the story, 2) mimic the information-flood and data-triage I expect’d be an even bigger part of US life 15 years hence. 3) have a lot more technical/medical verisimilitude 4) allow/make the reader go literally physically ‘back and forth’ in a way that perhaps cutely mimics some of the story’s thematic concerns . . . 5) feel emotionally like I’m satisfying your request for compression of text without sacrificing enormous amounts of stuff.”

He was known for endlessly fracturing narratives and for stem-winding sentences adorned with footnotes that were themselves stem-winders. Such techniques originally had been his way of reclaiming language from banality, while at the same time representing all the caveats, micro-thoughts, meta-moments, and other flickers of his hyperactive mind.

5 Responses to “Why David Foster Wallace used footnotes”

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  5. […] ups to Freidell for also including plenty of kinetic footnotes, a clear homage to Wallace’s unique writing style. ‘This is Water’ is a loving tribute to a departed literary voice as much as it is a […]

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