Maybe you passed on David Foster Wallace’s rambling meta-opus “Infinite Jest” because you like your page counts without commas. (It weighed in at a taut 1,088 pages.) Perhaps it was the looming hiatal hernia dare you transport it to the cassa. Whatever the reason, fear no more. The outsized, untethered genius of DFW — hailed by the Boston Globe as “probably the most important novelist of his generation” — has been reined in and repackaged thanks to the staple gun.
“Consider the Lobster” is a compendium of magazine articles published in a wide array of journals (Rolling Stone, Gourmet, Harper’s) on an even wider array of subjects (Crustaceans, Porn, Tracey Austin, 9/11, Dostoevsky). While typical Wallaceian flourishes abound (the overamped vocabulary, parenthesis within parenthesis, an OCDish lust for footnotes), some of the pieces are downright short. Undiminished are the luminosity of the prose and the towering intellect.
So your hamstrings may be safe, but your synapses best be girded. As one hopes was foodie doyenne Ruth Reichl, editor of Gourmet, when the winsome travelogue she commissioned from DFW on the Maine Lobster Fest came juddering over the transom with the following central conceit: ”Is it all right to boil a sentient creature alive just for our gustatory pleasure?”