10 Classic Essays

10 Classic Essays

by David Foster Wallace

Shipping Out – “On the (nearly lethal) comforts of a luxury cruise”

Ticket to the Fair – Gorge yourself on corn dogs, gape at terrifying rides, savor the odor of pigs, trade unpleasantries with tattooed carnies, and admire the loveliness of cows.

Consider the Lobster – A trip to the Maine Lobster Festival raises some unnerving questions about the relationship between people and animals.

Tense Present – Perhaps the finest review of an English usage dictionary ever written – this classic essay touches on everything from racial bias in academia and the evolution of language to the pros and cons on non-standard English.

Deciderization 2007 – Why just about every important word on The Best American Essays 2007’s front cover turns out to be vague, debatable, slippery, disingenuous, or else ‘true’ only in certain contexts…

Laughing With Kafka – “For me, a signal frustration in trying to read Kafka with students is that it is next to impossible to get them to see that Kafka is funny…” 

FX Porn – A fascintating reflection on the inverse relationship between the amount of special effects used in a film and the quality of the story. 

The String Theory – “An obsessive inquiry into the physics and metaphysics of tennis.”

Federer as Religious Experience – Wallace’s hypnotic prose opens up the world of top-flight tennis, and arguably its greatest exponent.

The Capital T Truth – Wallace’s 2005 Kenyon College commencement address: a stark but hopeful perspective on life’s fundamental questions.

Hail the Returning Dragon, Clothed in New Fire – On sex, AIDS, love, danger and romance.

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