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Author of Consider the Lobster (and so much more) dead at 46

tatamagouche Sep 14, 2008 06:21 AM


I owe MC Slim JB real gratitude for uncovering this news almost as soon as it was published on Gawker, I think.

Those of you who remember the shitstorm this essay caused when it came out in Gourmet may have (or may not have) become fans of his novels, short stories, and essays then. He was a brilliant, brilliant writer, easily among the best of the past few decades IMO. Heartbreaking.

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    dolores RE: tatamagouche Sep 14, 2008 06:40 AM

    Was 'Consider the Lobster' pro-lobster?

    What a shame. I wonder why he did it.

    1. MC Slim JB RE: tatamagouche Sep 14, 2008 08:24 AM

      Thanks, tatamagouche, for introducing me to this brilliant writer. I started with "Consider the Lobster", which you can read here: http://www.lobsterlib.com/feat/davidw... Broadly speaking, it's an examination of how humans relate to other animals, spun out of reporting on the annual Maine Lobster Festival, focusing specifically on the issue of the morality of killing animals cruelly (e.g., boiling them alive) for our pleasure. Thought-provoking, and one small example of this man's astonishing talent. I'd encourage anyone to read the rest of his work, though little else of it focuses on chow-related issues.

      2 Replies
      1. re: MC Slim JB
        dolores RE: MC Slim JB Sep 14, 2008 08:27 AM

        >>focusing specifically on the issue of the morality of killing animals cruelly (e.g., boiling them alive) for our pleasure

        Yes, I figured Wallace was a decent human being. What a shame, what a loss.

        Also a shame is that I hadn't heard of him before now.

        I wonder why he did it.

        1. re: dolores
          maria lorraine RE: dolores Sep 15, 2008 12:35 AM

          He was a genius who danced with pathos. Until he could no longer.

      2. f
        ferret RE: tatamagouche Sep 14, 2008 11:47 AM

        Really sad. "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again" is one of the best essays ever (about a week-long trip on a Celebrity Cruise ship) and Infinite Jest is a modern classic.

        1. ElsieDee RE: tatamagouche Sep 14, 2008 05:17 PM

          Good speed, Mr. Wallace.

          A talented man with a wonderfully unique view of the world that we inhabit - his "Consider the Lobster" is truly a thoughtful, thought-provoking read.

          I'll miss his fiction, but moreso his essays - everything of his that I've read has opened my eyes and provided much fodder for pondering.

          I'm sorry that he chose to leave this world, but wish him the best in the next great adventure. May he find peace and enlightenment in whatever follows.

          1. rozz01 RE: tatamagouche Sep 15, 2008 05:54 PM

            Was the lobster essay originally featured in Gourmet? It sounds really familiar....

            8 Replies
            1. re: rozz01
              tatamagouche RE: rozz01 Sep 15, 2008 08:09 PM

              Yes, it was, and the letters to the editor following its publication were incendiary.

              1. re: tatamagouche
                maria lorraine RE: tatamagouche Sep 16, 2008 10:10 AM

                Do either of you have a link to this?

                1. re: maria lorraine
                  tatamagouche RE: maria lorraine Sep 16, 2008 10:14 AM

                  MC Slim JB's link above is to the article as it appeared; & here's a link to a forum that Reichl herself, it appears, comments on w/r/t deciding to run the piece. I don't see that the letters themselves are online; for that you'd probably have to check the archives at your local lib.


                  1. re: tatamagouche
                    maria lorraine RE: tatamagouche Sep 16, 2008 05:21 PM

                    Very good work! And so fast!


                    1. re: maria lorraine
                      tatamagouche RE: maria lorraine Sep 17, 2008 06:12 AM

                      He was absolutely my favorite living novelist, to whom even Delillo took a backseat once I discovered him. (Granted, Delillo's own foray into writing about food in the form of the postmodern supermarket in White Noise is also unforgettable.)
                      So I'm honored to share whatever I can find.

                      Grinder's covered it now too. http://www.chow.com/grinder/6368

                      1. re: tatamagouche
                        maria lorraine RE: tatamagouche Sep 18, 2008 01:10 AM

                        For you...the last 3 grafs with incredible links:

                        1. re: maria lorraine
                          tatamagouche RE: maria lorraine Sep 18, 2008 06:42 AM

                          Thank you! In my own lifetime, I don't remember a writer's death causing such an outcry. It's comforting, somehow.

                          1. re: tatamagouche
                            Phaedrus RE: tatamagouche Sep 18, 2008 07:10 AM

                            It is a huge bombshell in the literary community.

            2. rozz01 RE: tatamagouche Sep 16, 2008 01:25 PM

              I remember copying it and sending it out to my friends, toughtful and left me pretty conflicted...

              1. Phaedrus RE: tatamagouche Sep 17, 2008 01:30 PM

                A NYT appreciation.
                NYT obit.

                An appreciation from Michiko Kakutani, the very tough but very good book critic at the New York Times.

                He is one of the major figures in post-modern literature. The comparison with DeLillo is often made. It seems there is a price to be paid for his genius though.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Phaedrus
                  tatamagouche RE: Phaedrus Sep 17, 2008 02:17 PM

                  Yeah, I can't agree w/ Kakutani's assessment of Infinite Jest, but it's otherwise nice.

                  It's very nice of the moderators to be allowing some of these posts since they're not all about Chow. Thus I thought I'd flip through IJ and quote the first food-related line I came to and it's this:

                  "There are fragments of lettuce in his eyelashes."


                2. t
                  TheDescendedLefticleOfAramis RE: tatamagouche Sep 22, 2008 06:23 PM

                  "consider", as well as "jest", was a fraction ...
                  a true loss.

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