Harper’s Magazine
The Harper’s Podcast
On David Foster Wallace

On David Foster Wallace

Reconsidering the meme and the writing

“The reason it’s so hard to write a cruise piece is because of David Foster Wallace,” explains Lauren Oyler, a critic and the author of the novel Fake Accounts. In her recent Harper’s Magazine cover story, she takes on Wallace’s 1997 cruise essay, also published in Harper’s, as she describes her experience aboard the Goop cruise. “But I didn’t want it to just be a work of criticism reckoning with David Foster Wallace’s reputation,” Oyler adds. So her essay goes beyond reputation to discuss “male feminists,” class dynamics on cruise ships, and the tired nature of materialist critiques of wellness in order to—as she puts it in her essay—“unite irony and sincerity once and for all.”

Lauren Oyler on Twitter

Lauren Oyler’s Fake Accounts on Bookshop.org

Jon Baskin on Twitter

Jon Baskin’s Ordinary Unhappiness: The Therapeutic Fiction of David Foster Wallace on Bookshop.org

Subscribe to Harper’s for only $16.97: https://harpers.org/save

● [3:16] Some problems Oyler takes with David Foster Wallace

● [10:08] How the public understanding of David Foster Wallace reflects on the popular understanding of the essay as well as contemporary women’s literature

● [15:41] “The male feminist” and women’s writing in relation to David Foster Wallace

● [24:05] The confusing economic class of people who goes on cruises

● [31:51] On the tired nature of materialist critique of wellness (Goop) 

● [46:40] Oyler’s unification of irony and sincerity

● [55:35] “Didn’t anything good happen to you on this cruise?”

Harper’s Magazine
The Harper’s Podcast
Since 1850, Harper’s Magazine has provided its readers with a unique perspective on the issues that drive our national conversation, featuring writing from some of the most promising to most distinguished names in literature–from Barbara Ehrenreich to Rachel Kushner. Every week, host Violet Lucca joins her colleagues and contributing writers to provide listeners with a deep dive into these topics and the craft of long-form narrative journalism.
Listen on
Substack App
RSS Feed
Appears in episode
Harper’s Magazine
Recent Episodes