Episode 28 - Discussing David Foster Wallace with Lucas Thompson


In this episode we are joined by Wallace scholar Lucas Thompson

Lucas Thompson is the author of the new book Global Wallace (Bloomsbury) which is the first volume in a new series called "David Foster Wallace Studies" edited by Stephen Burn. Global Wallace centers around the often overlooked sources of influence on Wallace's work. Thompson explores Wallace's connection and borrowing from Manuel Puig, Dostoevsky, hip hop culture, and many others.

Thompson is a Research Fellow at the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, Australia. He has published articles in Texas Studies in Literature and Language, Journal of American Studies, The Cormac McCarthy Journal, and Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction. Forthcoming book chapters appear in The Cambridge Companion to David Foster Wallace, MLA Approaches to Teaching: David Foster Wallace, and MLA Approaches to Teaching: Jewish American Fiction. His reviews have appeared in US Studies Online, The European Legacy, and Philament, and he has also written for The LA Review of Books.


Global Wallace


Episode 27 - Discussing David Foster Wallace with Jill Braithwaite


This time we talk to our friend Jill Braithwaite, a Wallace scholar who wrote her Masters thesis on Infinite Jest and its connections to the ideas of theologian Paul Tillich and Unitarian Universalism. She is on Twitter here

Jill mentions a sermon she gave (in which Wallace's Kenyon speech makes a sigificant appearance), which can be found here

Episode 26: Discussing David Foster Wallace with Jeff Severs


In this episode, we talk with Jeff Severs, author of the excellent new book David Foster Wallace’s Balancing Books: Fictions of Value, published by Columbia University Press. Severs is associate professor of English at the University of British Columbia, Canada, Convexity.

Severs is also a noted Pynchon scholar, author of a number of scholarly articles and co-editor of a book about Against the Day.

His website can be found at https://jeffreysevers.wordpress.com/


Show Notes

1:00 - Introductions

2:40 - Austinites

3:34 - James Manguson

5:00 - MFA programs

6:10 - Mary Carter - the name Matt was trying to think of

7:50 - Overview of the book

9:05 - Balance in general

10:05 - Axiology - study of valuation

13:06 - Heidegger defines axios

17:18 - A Tripartite writer

26:26 - A biographical approach

34:15 - Juxtaposing hard labor with a dissolute consumerist society

40:31 - GQ, Obama, rhetoric, 2008

46:53 - The civic vision of the Pale King

1:35:40 - Jeff correctly picks Moonlight as the Best Picture winner!

Episode 25 - Discussing David Foster Wallace with Lee Konstantinou


This time, we talk to our friend Lee Konstantinou, a contemporary US literature scholar who has published significantly on Wallace. His new book Cool Characters is available now from Harvard University Press.

Episode 24 - 2016 Year in Review


As is the tradition, Dave and Matt take a minor detour (at times) from the usual topic of David Foster Wallace to discuss their personal highlights and favorite literary and pop cultural items of 2016.

Show notes:

00:27 - The Nightmare: 2016

02:08 - Matt knows books, Dave knows everything else

03:29 - Phone addiction

04:02 - Personal years in review

09:52 - Go to the 2017 David Foster Wallace Conference

11:15 - Sports, or lack thereof

14:59 - The International DFW Literary Society (dfwsociety.org)

21:20 - Matt’s favorite books of 2016

30:54 -Dave’s favorite books of 2016

38:04 - Netrunner Worlds and Dave’s appearance on Boards Alive - (starts 1:24:39)

38:59 - More of Matt’s favorite books (and a footnote about Bill Gates)

41:54 - The proliferation of monographs on DFW

42:40 - Dave’s favorite music of 2016 with Great Concavity bonus playlist

53:44 - Our favorite films of 2016

59:02 - More of Matt’s favorite books of the year (mostly biographies)

1:09:03 - 2016, the 20th Anniversary of Infinite Jest

1:12:50 - Television in 2016

1:22:53 - Board games in 2016

1:27:48 - Passing over video games

1:28:03 - Wrap up


Matt Bucher contact

Twitter & Instagram: @mattbucher

Website: mattbucher.com


Dave Laird contact

Twitter: @dave__laird

Instagram: @davelaird


Email us: concavityshow@gmail.com

Episode 23 - Discussing David Foster Wallace with Andrew Savage of Parquet Courts



In this episode we speak with the multi-talented writer and musician Andrew Savage of the band Parquet Courts. Their song “Instant Disassembly” opens and closes each episode of our podcast, but more importantly, Andrew is a super-literate dude who is capable of expounding on almost any topic.

Here is the video that Dave mentions of George Saunders’ appearance on The Charlie Rose show: https://charlierose.com/videos/23703 (DFW discussion starts at 40:54).

Check out Parquet Courts on Spotify or Apple Music or YouTube or just shout their name out the nearest window.

Their official website is https://parquetcourts.wordpress.com/


Show notes

01:54 - Why Dave chose “Instant Disassembly” as our intro song

01:55 - Thematic relation between DFW’s writing and “Instant Disassembly”

01:56 - There’s ennui but it’s also a really bitchin’ song

02:45 - Madonna’s “Like a Prayer”

03:46 - Bookworm’s theme song

08:35 - Growing up in Denton, Texas

09:53 - Austin Brown

13:30 - The Marked Men

14:40 - The Parking Lot set in Charlottesville

16:53 - Where did we play in Vancouver

18:49 - Parquet courts in The Garden and basketball

20:08 - Influenced by fiction

22:14 - Coming to Wallace, an intro thereto

23:52 - IJ/DFW influences everything

25:31 - The anxiety of influence, nah

29:56 - What to hold back

32:12 - Trump is a germaphobe

33:23 - The labor issues of being a musician

36:08 - New Sincerity discussion

39:13 - Parquet Courts and the Irony of Blah Blah Blah

43:45 - What makes a good performance

44:41 - Smaller venues

46:13 - Dealing with cynicism

48:12 - Favorite Wallace stuff

51:30 - The Depressed Person: parody or not?

55:30 - The existential angst of the modern condition

57:03 - We’ve all got holes to fill

58:40 - In search of lost time

1:02:00 - Listening to music the way we read

1:03:49 - The Big Ship on repeat

1:05:00 - Cate Le Bon

1:06:01 - Opposite Sex from New Zealand & Hamlet

1:07:40 - Glasgow has a grid system

1:08:56 - Favorite books & movies - Knausgaard

1:10:43 - Eva Hesse’s diaries

1:13:01 - A movie discussion ensues

1:14:19 - The song North Dakota

1:17:23 - How to finish things

1:28:30 - Easter egg

Episode 22 - Discussing David Foster Wallace with Nicolas Giacobone



In this episode with talk with Academy-Award winning screenwriter and DFW fan Nicolás Giacobone. Nico is best known as the co-writer of Iñarritu's Birdman and Biutiful, but he's also a writer of fiction and a serious reader.

If you have not seen the movie Birdman, it is strongly advised that you do so.

In this episode we discuss his grandfather's filmography, literary influences, Manu Ginobli, and many other things.  

Books and writers mentioned include Alberto Laiseca, John Updike, Don DeLillo, George Saunders, and Michael Ondaatje's Coming Through Slaughter among others. 

Contact us: concavityshow@gmail.com

Show notes: 

00:042 - background and introductions

02:16 - writing for television is painful

03:41 - Like Ed Wood, he was his own extra

09:08 - Homer and Dostoevsky and Cervantes

22:22 - movie writing is collaborative by nature

28:19 - San Antonio Spurs and ego

32:20 - In Latin America, everything is sold with a handshake

33:40 - Treating writing like work

35:08 - Ruth Reichl and DFW

43:40 - Never wrote another novel

49:00 - Six minute takes

53:01 - Tortured artist whose biggest obstacle is himself

54:00 - Free time and they write bullshit

57:07 - Aaron Swartz's theory of IJ

1:04:26 - We can't do math

1:08:11 - Plenty of good books are forgotten

1:12:01 - The 160-page version of CivilWarLand in Bad Decline

1:15:19 - Sergio de la Pava

1:22:06 - The Internet as a tool

1:28:00 - Mario Bellatin

1:32:32 - Moving past Bolaño's influence

1:36:46 - Make fun of Shakespeare

1:37:59 - Comparing Birdman and Infinite Jest

1:39:56 - IJ is impossible to film

1:45:55 - Easter egg: technical difficulties


Episode 21 - Discussing David Foster Wallace with Clare Hayes-Brady




In this episode we talk with Wallace scholar Clare Hayes-Brady about her new book The Unspeakable Failures of David Foster Wallace.


She is Lecturer in American Literature at University College, Dublin.

We discuss a variety of issues in this episode including bad endings, DFW Studies, Ricoeur, love, Their Eyes Were Watching God, and assorted other things.

You can find her on Twitter https://twitter.com/ClareHayesBrady


Show notes

00:30 - Byzantine Erotica right off the bat

01:30 - Spelling of Quebecois

02:30 - UCD vs TCD

04:01 - The Unspeakable Failures

05:01 - Noncompletion, the lack of closure

05:45 - A Failed Entertainment

08:30 - Short Story Theory, resistance to closure

10:39 - We don’t have neat narratives

13:00 - How can you be done with something?

14:26 - Starting IJ again

15:20 - The peripheral stuff

16:27 - Was IJ/DFW narcissistic?

19:10 - The empathetic connection with readers

20:38 - Incoherent need to communicate

22:21 - The problem with romantic relationships--and Anne Geddes

25:21 - Misogyny from a place of fear

26:36 - The Granola Cruncher

30:53 - The silencing of female characters

31:02 - The Lionel Shriver issue

35:18 - A poorly disguised avatar

35:45 - Hungerford piece

37:02 - The Joycean Boys Club

39:59 - The C-word

44:42 - Inhabiting other minds

45:29 - Hurston not explaining things

47:26 - White male protagonists. . . groan

48:46 - VIDA count and the equivalent awareness

50:01 - Separating the artist from the art

51:29 - Ferrante & Knausgaard

55:36 - Writing beyond his own perspective

56:20 - Hardcore Theory Weenies

58:41 - Conflating a couple of paradoxes

59:59 - A fascinating disaster of a book

1:01:54 - The conclusions of the failures

1:04:40 - First attempt in Learning

1:05:08 - Post on Poor Yorick’s Summer

1:05:30 - Honest Ulsterman and motherhood

1:08:40 - Easter Egg

Episode 20: Discussing David Foster Wallace with John Mango


In this episode we talk with John Mango. John is a teacher and a scholar but in this episode we talk a lot about recovery, AA membership, depression, and alcoholism--perennial DFW subjects all around.

01:07 - Twenty episodes in a year

02:02 - Introducing John Mango

04:01 - John Grisham paperbacks

05:05 - Joseph Heller, Thomas Pynchon, Cormac McCarthy

06:30 - A comforting loss and depression

08:30 - Terry Eagleton & the role of literature

11:22 - Discovering Wallace after death

13:15 - We feel like we know him

14:14 - Can you even talk about AA?

15:25 - Hiding stuff all the time

16:29 - Humility

17:30 - Separating the biography from the writing?

18:20 - Alcohol & Poetry, John Berryman

19:48 - Sharing and honesty and irony

21:11 - The Big Book is IJ

22:14 - William James, Religious Experience

25:39 - AA and agnosticism

26:02 - G.O.D. = Group of Drunks

26:25 - It all comes down to pragmatism

27:15 - Gately saving Randy Lenz, a program of action

29:04 - The gift of desperation

31:30 - St. Anselm

33:00 - Gately enjoys riding with the crocodiles

37:31 - Big Craig

38:10 - Interview with Deb Larson-Venable, the real Pat Montesian

39:43 - How John came in

41:09 - Gratitude? Seriously?

44:58 - A giant love letter to AA

48:44 - It sounds like a cliche

51:20 - A favorite part of Infinite Jest

54:05 - Fleeting mention of Trump, sorry

54:44 - Fake cliche motto

57:40 - Burlington, Vermont & Hebron, Connecticut

59:01 - Norwalk virus

1:00:11 - The Joke in Infinite Jest

1:02:13 - Vocabulary of emotional literacy

1:03:56 - The problem of solipsism

1:07:07 - @callmejohnmango, Facebook, The Blog - https://hazardsofthecourse.wordpress.com/

1:10:23 - Destigmatizing the disease

1:11:13 - Android Netrunner

Episode 19 - Discussing David Foster Wallace with Rachel Laird & Amy Pelletier


In this episode, Dave and Matt start by catching up about the recent photo caption contest winner and entries, Dairy Queen, Flannery O'Connor conferences, and the distinguished list of famous writers Matt has met. Then, our guests Amy and Rachel talk to Dave about their recent experiences reading Infinite Jest for the first time. 

Episode 18 - Discussing Infinite Jest with Sean Pratt


In this episode we speak with audiobook narrator extraordinaire, Sean Pratt. Sean is the narrator of the 56-hour-long audiobook of Infinite Jest. He has also narrated over 800 other books. Believe it or not, Infinite Jest is not even the longest book Sean has narrated! We discuss the mechanics of recording, the different voices in the book, the endnotes issue, what it takes to become an audiobook narrator, and many other things

You can find Sean on Twitter at @SPPresents and his website http://www.SeanPrattPresents.com

Show Notes

2:06 - Sean Pratt’s background & how he got the part

7:04 - So you want to be an audiobook narrator

10:01 - The economics of recording an audiobook

13:30 - A state of “flow”

16:24 - How many hours did this really take?

20:51 - When we first meet Ken Erdedy

24:30 - Acting vs. Reading: Tom Robbins

28:04 - A silk purse out of a sow’s ear

32:01 - Reading the paratext & The Four Voices of Nonfiction

35:10 - Just skip the endnotes: a debate

41:50 - No really, how to do the endnotes?

44:02 - Blood Sister: One Tough Nun & comedy

47:50 - Do you listen to yourself?

50:38 - Always Be Entertaining

52:52 - How to navigate all the voices

58:10 - Don’t do it like a puppet show

59:15 - Hal watching a video cartridge

1:01:15 - Some of Sean’s best audiobooks

1:06:25 - Speed vs. Tempo

1:12:20 - To honor the text

1:16:15 - Easter egg

Episode 17.2 - David Foster Wallace Conference 2016 Recap Show - Part 2


In Part 2 of this episode we look back at the 3rd Annual David Foster Wallace Conference, held at Illinois State University July 28-30. We talk with a number of DFW scholars and conference attendees. 

In this episode are interviews with Melissa Holton, Jane Carman, Emily Spalding & Josh Katz, Tony McMahon, Ryan Marnane, and Rob Short & Chris Ayers. 

Last day for photo caption contest entries is end of day Aug 31st, so post on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram! Winner to be determined shortly thereafter.

Show Notes:

00:00:55 - Melissa Holton - @maccalisa17

00:12:27 - Jane Carman - festivalwriter.org

00:21:40 - Josh Katz & Emily Spalding - @ewspalding

00:41:17 - Tony McMahon - @tony_mcmahon2

00:59:57 - Ryan Marnane - @ryanmarnane

1:20:00 - Chris Ayers & Rob Short - @chrisAcreative pooryorickentertainment.tumblr.com & @vismeainlabore

Episode 17.1 - David Foster Wallace Conference 2016 Recap Show - Part 1


In Part 1 of this two-part episode we look back at the 3rd Annual David Foster Wallace Conference, held at Illinois State University. We talk with a number of DFW scholars and conference attendees. 

In this episode are interviews with keynote speaker Marshall Boswell, Michael O'Connell, Jeff Severs, Corrie Baldauf, Matt Luter, Mike Miley, and Samantha Wallace. 

Show notes:
00:00:45 - Recap of our respective summers
00:05:30 - The Inkiest Black
00:06:55 - Online communities
00:10:30 - 4th Annual Conference
00:15:01 - photo caption contest
00:17:18 - Interview with Michael O'Connell
00:27:51 - Interview with Marshall Boswell
00:29:00 - Cambridge Companion to David Foster Wallace, edited by Ralph Clare
00:38:20 - Interview with Jeff Severs
00:50:57 - Interview with Corrie Baldauf

01:04:37 - Interview with Matt Luter
01:17:03 - Interview with Mike Miley
01:30:53 - Interview with Samantha 'No Relation' Wallace

People notes:
Michael O'Connell, Siena Heights University

Marshall Boswell, author of Understanding David Foster Wallace

Corrie Baldauf 

Matt Luter, author of Understanding Jonathan Lethem
St. Andrew’s Episcopal School
Twitter: @matthewjluter

Mike Miley

Samantha Wallace, University of Virginia

Episode 16 - Discussing David Foster Wallace with Edmund Waldstein


In this episode, we talk with Pater Edmund Waldstein. 

He is a Cistercian monk at a monastery in Austria and a David Foster Wallace scholar. 
We talk about religion and morals and a number of other related issues in Wallace's work. 

His blog is an excellent resource for his writing about Wallace and other topics: https://sancrucensis.wordpress.com/

Pater Edmund is on Twitter @sancrucensis

Episode 15 - Discussing David Foster Wallace with Krzys Piekarski


In this episode, we talk with Krzys Piekarski, PhD. Krzys is a DFW scholar who has written extensively on DFW and Buddhism. He also runs a wisdom program in Austin called Character by Design: https://characterbydesign.org/

We cover a variety of topics in this show, from parables to stress and boredom to the basics of Buddhism and how it manifests in Wallace’s writing. 

The book Krzys mentions is at the end of the show is called Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, and we talk about the books of Steven Batchelor - Buddhism without Beliefs.

His podcast, with author Sunni Brown is called Sunni & Wise. http://sunniandwise.com / @sunniandwise

There are some weird booming sounds in this episode. Sorry about that!


Show Notes

01:46 - Introduction Krzys & his teaching background

03:00 - Teaching in prison

04:24 - Krzys’s dissertation on Buddhism, Philosophy, and David Foster Wallace

06:48 - Can Wallace be considered a Buddhist thinker?

08:30 - Krzys’s path to Buddhism

11:00 - DFW’s undergrad years at Amherst & Wittgenstein

12:08 - Wittgensteinian zen parable

14:14 - The limits of language

14:25 - Buddhism 101

15:15 - Suffering

18:59 - How we can gain freedom

21:50 - George Saunders calls Wallace a great Buddhist writer

23:57 - Wallace and meditation

25:38 - The boredom thing

29:11 - Flow state

35:49 - What is the purpose of life?

36:00 - David Foster Wallace and the Velveteen Rabbit

38:30 - Escape from the self

43:10 - Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind

44:20 - Mario Incandenza

47:00 - Disgust and addicts

52:00 - Trying to express inexpressible truths

53:20 - Double binds

57:20 - Stepping in to a monastery

1:00:30 - Sincere curiosity 

1:02:15 - There is nothing missing in you

1:07:00 - Show wrap-up, thanks, and links






Episode 14: Discussing David Foster Wallace with Josh Roiland and his class at the University of Maine


In this special episode we talk with Professor Josh Roiland and his class at the University of Maine. Roiland is Assistant Professor + CLAS-Honors Preceptor of Journalism in the Department of Communication and Journalism + Honors College. Roiland’s class this semester was called “Consider David Foster Wallace” and they read a TON of DFW work. As part of their class project, the students also created a really useful website about IJ called Consider Infinite Jest https://considerinfinitejest.wordpress.com/

Josh has written a lot about Wallace and here are a few of his pieces we mention in this episode:

·        "Getting Away from It All: The Literary Journalism of David Foster Wallace and Nietzsche's Concept of 'Oblivion'"Literary Journalism Studies, Vol. 1, No. 2, Fall 2009, 89-105. (Revised and reprinted in The Legacy of David Foster Wallace, University of Iowa Press).

·        "The Fine Print: Uncovering the True Story of David Foster Wallace and the 'Reality Boundary'" Literary Journalism Studies, Vol. 5, No. 2, Fall 2013, 148-161. (Reprinted by Longreads; 10 Most Popular Exclusives of 2014).

·        "Spiritually Midwestern: What Middle America Meant to David Foster Wallace" published (w/essential footnotes maddeningly located on the side of the text) by A24 Film Studios "Just Words" site in conjunction w/the release of The End of The Tour. 

You can follow Josh Roiland on Twitter @JoshRoiland or check out his website: www.joshroiland.com 

SPECIAL THANKS are due to Justin Harlan-Haughey for his audio expertise.Thanks also to Robyn O’Neil, Parquet Courts, Josh Roiland, Derrek Schrader, Alex Abrahams, Emily McNair, Atticus Dennis, and Taylor Cunningham.


03:00 – Josh’s writing on Wallace

04:38 – Josh’s email intro to the class

06:34 – Class syllabus and reading list

08:38 – Reconciling Wallace’s death with his writing

10:21 – Starting the class with a discussion onsuicide

13:52 – Is Wallace’s writing autobiographical?

16:55 – The class on Twitter

18:20 – The Wallace community on Twitter

19:51 – When the class read Infinite Jest

21:35 – Meeting in different spaces

22:45 – The ending of Infinite Jest

24:35 – Is the graveyard scene real? What’s going onthere?

27:49 – Waiting for plotlines to converge

30:30 – Reading IJ in public

31:07 – The cliché of dudes/bros reading Infinite Jest

37:38 – The marginalization of journalism in Englishdepartments

39:06 – DFW’s exaggerations in non-fiction

40:25 – Your favorite Wallace piece?

48:24 – Your least favorite Wallace piece?

53:33 – How to teach Infinite Jest

55:25 – Class-created website about IJ

1:01:32 – What to read after Wallace?

1:05:15 – Your favorite Wallace character?

1:09:52 – Any huge takeaways from this experience?

Contact us at concavityshow@gmail.comor @concavityshow

Episode 13: Discussing David Foster Wallace with Rob Short


In this episode we talk with Wallace scholar Rob Short. We discuss everything from AA & recovery to William James and summer camp. 

You can follow Rob on twitter and academia.edu here:




Show Notes

Urine trouble? You’re in luck! - 00:49

Rob’s academic background – 1:09

Wallace’s interview with SPEAK magazine – 3:15

Rob’s paper at the 2014 DFW Conference – 5:26

The idea of “worshipping” – 6:30

Readers at academic conferences – 8:42

The obtuseness of Derrida – 10:24

Glenn K. – 11:30

“To impress people when you are 24” – 12:19

Teaching Wallace - 15:18

DFW’s early publishing history & audience – 29:00

David Markson – 30:26

Wallace’s inter-novel period – 34:00

Rob’s dissertation’s structure – 37:27

William James – 41:26

The rhetoric of AA – 46:33

How Don Gately goes straight – 50:30

Zadie Smith on DFW – 52:29

Catholics by Brian Moore – 56:33

Personal religion stuff – 57:45

United Church of Canada and atheism– 1:01:21

Post-secular society – 1:03:36

A spectrum of salvation/hope - 1:05:47

Addicts are throwaway people – 1:08:15

“Use” and usefulness - 1:09:55

Rote discipline and routine – 1:12:35

Wallace at Le Conversazioni http://robshort.org/files/Le_Conversazioni_2006.mp4 - 1:15:48

Eternal thanks to Parquet Courts, David C. Jensen, and Robyn O’Neil … and You of course. 

Episode 12: Discussing David Foster Wallace with David Hering


In this episode we talk with DFW scholar David Hering. Hering is the author of the forthcoming book David Foster Wallace: Fiction + Form. He's also a Lecturer at the University of Liverpool and editor of the book Consider David Foster Wallace. You can follow him on Twitter at @hering_david


Episode 11: Answering Your Questions about David Foster Wallace



In this episode, we finally get around to answering the questions you submitted in February. Listen to find out if we answered yours!

We also mention this clip of Wallace talking about traveling to Italy:

And be sure to follow our show on Twitter over yonder ----> @ConcavityShow

Episode 10: Discussing David Foster Wallace with Nick Maniatis of The Howling Fantods


In this episode, we talk with Nick Maniatis, proprietor and webmaster of the invaluable website, The Howling Fantods.

If you are a DFW fan, Nick probably needs no introduction, but we do ask him how the site came to be and how it has evolved over the years. 
Be sure to follow him on Twitter here:@nick_maniatis or on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/and.but.so/

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