Consider the Lobster and Other Essays

Consider the Lobster and Other Essays

Book - 2005
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For this collection, Wallace immerses himself in the three-ring circus that is the presidential race in order to document one of the most vicious campaigns in recent history. Later he strolls from booth to booth at a lobster festival in Maine and risks life and limb to get to the bottom of the lobster question. Then he wheedles his way into an L.A. radio studio, armed with tubs of chicken, to get the behind-the-scenes view of a conservative talk show featuring a host with an unnatural penchant for clothing that looks good only on the radio. Do lobsters feel pain? Did Franz Kafka have a sick sense of humor? What is John Updike's deal anyway? And who won the Adult Video News' Female Performer of the Year Award the same year Gwyneth Paltrow won her Oscar? Wallace answers these questions and more.--From publisher description.
Publisher: New York :, Little, Brown,, 2005.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780316156110
Branch Call Number: 814.54 WA
Characteristics: 343 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Alternative Title: Consider the lobster


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JCLIanH Jul 19, 2018

Most of the essays here are excellent, but there are some literary criticism ones that you should likely avoid (unless a 62-page review of A Dictionary of Modern American Usage is your thing). The titular essay (about attending the Maine Lobster Festival) and "Up, Simba" (about Wallace's account of following John McCain on the campaign trail for his 2000 primary campaign) are required reading.

Feb 07, 2016

The book is a series of essays. It’s full of insight into all kinds people. It can be very funny (x-rated film awards show). It’s got the DFW footnote thing going and is still a fun read. If you don’t mind the feeling of riding along the someone who is enormously intelligent, and is determined to convince you of that, then this is a trip to take.

May 12, 2015


Mar 27, 2014

Vintage DFW. My favorite in this collection is "Joseph Frank's Dostoevksy."

Extended review on my blog:

Jul 18, 2013

My favorite books are the ones that stick with you for days and days and days after you read them, books that imprint themselves all over your brain so that when the neurons are flashing about in your cerebral space, they always seem to illuminate the cache of insight and language of that one book. My favorite books are by authors who start to annoy your friends because you inevitably wind up talking about them everywhere you go and no one really cares what Cormac McCarthy might think of the fiscal cliff. David Foster Wallace and his essay collection Consider the Lobster are just that kind of pair. The title essay is by no means one of my favorites and yet the other day, as I was searching the Shoreline Central Market for some rosemary bread, I saw those lobsters roving about their glass cages, claws pinched together by white plastic bands, and I instantly thought of Wallace's essay and of the socioeconomics of seafood and the ethics of live seafood captivity and of Upton Sinclair's harrowing vision of US food production circa 1900 (something, I should add, that Wallace doesn't actually mention). Now, I think I can boil this lingering synaptic activity down to a few things (boil it alive!) that everyone always seems to say about David Foster Wallace and this particular collection. The essays in Consider the Lobster are crazy diverse--we read about the heartbreaking fandom of porn addicts, about grammar wars and talk radio, about 9/11, and about everything we could have ever wondered about life on a John McCain media bus in 2004--and so it's no wonder that everywhere I turn there seems to be a connection waiting to happen. And yet despite the fact that Wallace seems to throw himself into such a variety of scenarios, the book is cohesive in its tone (Wallace is always there with his narrative honesty, quirky stylistic flourishes, and long train of footnotes) and its themes: this almost feels like one big essay on politics and the contradictions of the human spirit. Wallace is wicked smart and wicked thorough, and this means that we both learn the precise details and big-picture ideas in way that eventually seems to connect all the dots, in a way that makes those synapses fire and keep firing long after the book has gone the way of those Central Market lobsters, down the hatch and out the backdoor.

Dec 31, 2011

I picked up this book because of the title, and skipped to the essay on the Lobster question. The other essays are on a variety of topics which don't draw my attention by the titles (not always clear what the essay is even about), so I passed on reading those. But the writing is interesting, if a bit rambling.

Apr 02, 2008

Won't be having lobster for dinner anytime soon. Very funny.


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Dec 31, 2011

So then here is a question that's all but unavoidable at the World's Largest Lobster Cooker, and may arise in kitchens across the US: Is it all right to boil a sentient creature alive just for our gustatory pleasure? A related set of concerns: Is the previous question irksomely PC or sentimental? What does "all right" even mean in this context? Is the whole thing just a matter of personal choice." p243


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