Prufrock's Page

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Art Of Magical Compression

David Foster Wallace explains what he values in his introduction to The Best American Essays 2007: "I tend, as a reader, to prize and admire clarity, precision, plainness, lucidity, and the sort of magical compression that enriches instead of vitiates. Someone’s ability to write this way, especially in nonfiction, fills me with envy and awe. That might help explain why a fair number of BAE ’07’s pieces tend to be short, terse, and informal in usage/syntax. Readers who enjoy noodling about genre might welcome the news that several of this year’s Best Essays are arguably more like causeries or propos than like essays per se, although one could counterargue that these pieces tend, in their essential pithiness, to be closer to what’s historically been meant by ‘essay.’ "

(Yes, there are footnotes here, too. Much as one admire's the man's work, one wishes he would do away with this affectation.)


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