David Foster Wallace

1996 David Foster Wallace Interview

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Hello all,

It seems that I am experiencing an input phase, rather than an output phase right now, which is why I’ve been so shamefully absent. Don’t worry, I’ll be back on here soon; just needed a breather and a moment to focus on consuming creative works to improve my own production.

I did want to stop in briefly to share this 1996 radio interview with David Foster Wallace though. It’s just 36 minutes long, but it’s wonderful, if also a little sad and incredibly poignant. Thank you, Open Source!




Place Settings #37: April 13, 2014


Eat: Pain au chocolat in the park. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned, but I live about half a block from a beautiful older park with a pond and lots of ducks and geese, and about two blocks from a brand new park, which is where I ate this morning. I decided it eat outside today to get out of my cave apartment.

Drink: Lemonade (don’t worry — I had a coffee earlier at home). (more…)

Place Settings #36: April 6, 2014

Place Settings #36

Eat: Asparagus season is in full swing and you can’t go anywhere in Paris without seeing bundles of thick green and white stalks for sale. I picked up a fistful of spears in La Grande Epicerie, a magical food store that I’ve mentioned before. I steamed these for a few minutes, coated them in butter, and topped with a poached egg and a bit of salt.

Drink: English breakfast tea with honey.

Read: After I finished Bird by Bird, I looked at my stack of books and hesitated before selecting Girl with Curious Hair. Part of me wanted to take a longer break from David Foster Wallace (I finished Infinite Jest at the end of February), not because I’ve grown tired of him, but because I didn’t want to binge on him.  (more…)

Place Settings #32: March 9, 2014

Place Settings #32

Eat: Last night was the Duke vs. UNC game (Duke won, as it should always be), and since tip-off was at 3am Central European Time, I got myself a new snack (I realize that this third clause doesn’t logically follow from the second, but it makes sense in my head). In the seafood section of many grocery stores here, there are all kinds of brightly colored, tasty-looking dips and spreads that I have been eying for a few weeks. I couldn’t make a decision, so I went with a Mezzé de la Mer pack that included cod egg taramasalata, smoked salmon taramasalata, tuna specialty, salmon specialty, and prawn cocktail sauce. I have no idea what “specialty” means in this context, but they were all delicious, especially when dolloped on mini blini. I had some leftover blini for breakfast this morning, in addition to goat cheese and smoked salmon on toast. For brunch dessert, I had another slice of goat cheese with honey. This is what happens when you run all the time and therefore also eat all the time. (more…)

Place Settings #31: March 2, 2014


Eat: This is yet another installment of I-need-to-go-grocery-shopping cooking. I scrambled some eggs, finished off some sad lettuce, and topped a baguette with goat cheese and avocado. I ran 16 miles this morning as part of my marathon training, which means I’ll be spending the rest of the day eating and napping.

Drink: Nespresso, or I would have fallen asleep immediately after my post-run shower. (more…)

Place Settings #30: February 23, 2014


Eat: I had a delicious pita creation from Miznon, the shorter-lined (though still pretty packed) neighbor of the famous L’As du Fallafel. I met my friend Josh there for lunch before he flew back to New York, and while it occurred to me to whip out my camera and start snapping, I honestly just wanted to perch at the crowded bar, watch the cooks churn out pitas, and hear about Josh’s recent trip to Rome. Plus, let’s be real, I was also starving and anxious to inhale my food. Long story short, no food pictures today, so enjoy this view of Our Lady instead.

Drink: Water. Earlier, coffee, of course.

Read: Also not pictured here for obvious reasons, is Infinite Jest. I’m still on pace to finish by the end of February, so this is the last time I’ll be featuring it in Place Settings. It feels a little premature to talk about it definitively since I still have about 180 pages left to go, so maybe I’ll do a special IJ post when I finish.

What follows is surely one of the most obnoxious sentences I’ve ever written, but I’m going to say it anyway: Reading Infinite Jest is turning into a very meta experience for me. A few weeks ago, I assigned myself a certain number of pages to read every day to make sure I finish the book by the end of the month, which has definitely influenced how I interact with the text. (more…)

Place Settings #29: February 16, 2014

Place Settings #29

Eat: Avocado mash on a slice of the first non-baguette bread I’ve bought here. I took half of a ripe avocado and smushed it up with some diced onion and topped with salt and red pepper flakes. And an apple.

Drink: Back on the Nespresso train.

Read: This is the penultimate Place Settings post that will feature Infinite Jest, I promise. I’ve been sticking like glue to my 31-pages-a-day schedule, so we’re right on track for a February 28 end date. Like I mentioned last week, all the big themes of the book are coming together in a nice way. It’s not an overt convergence, but it is surprisingly tight and neat for such a huge, sprawling volume. (more…)

The Paris Bookshelf, Part II


I already blabbed on about some books about Paris, but I now present you with the books that actually came to Paris with me. As you might imagine based on the troubles I encountered packing my clothes, it was not easy for me to decide who was cool enough to make the trip. Books are heavy and, according to some outside sources whom I consulted mid-packing crisis, “non-essential items.” I of course beg to differ, and if the cost of bringing Borges and Wallace with me is a restricted range of sartorial options, then I shall simply have to look like a fashion-challenged but well-read slob while I’m here. C’est la vie.

Some books were no-brainers: the aforementioned Michelin Green Guide, Papa’s A Moveable Feast, and Marcel Proust’s In the Shadow of Young Girls in FlowerYou can’t come to Paris without both literal and literary guidebooks, plus I need Marcel to write my other blog, so he got an automatic berth. Being seen with either the Green Guide or the Hemingway in public would be a bit damaging to my attempts to seem like une vraie Parisienne (sometimes if I sense skepticism on the part of a shop clerk, I’ll choose to pay with my French bank card as if to validate my existence here, which now that I think about it, probably lowers their estimation of me given my terrible French, as if I’m telling them, “Yes, I live here but am making zero effort to speak your language properly.”), but they are consulted weekly in the privacy of my apartment.  (more…)

Place Settings #27: February 2, 2014


Eat: Eggs, scallions, mayonnaise on a baguette. Italy and France have the best eggs, in my opinion. Every time I eat an egg here, I wonder what on earth I was eating in New York. The yolks are a deep golden color and they taste much richer. I also picked up Mayonnaise des Normandes at Le Grande Epicerie (my new favorite place on earth — probably deserving of its own blog post); it tastes like a cross between mayo and mustard, and I cannot stop eating it. Seriously, I spread it on some bread and eat it. And speaking of bread, I have officially found the best baguette in my neighborhood. I also love watching the businessmen pick up baguettes on their ways home in the evening and rip off a chunk of bread to eat while they walk. I can’t blame them though; I have no idea how they bake so  much happiness into a baguette, but it really is that good.

Drink: Nespresso. Le sigh. I was gifted some beans the other day though, so I’m brainstorming a cheap pourover set-up for myself. Do we have any thoughts on hand grinders? (more…)