Is there any figure in the recent history of American literature who has generated as much cringe-inducing veneration – or as much dismay – as the late David Foster Wallace? During his lifetime, the author of Infinite Jest, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men and many celebrated essays and articles was a cult figure of soaring intellect, dizzying creative ambition and slightly questionable fashion sense. Many were frustrated by his work (New Yorker literary critic James Wood placed his work in the derogatory category of ‘hysterical realism’) while others saw him as a genius. His status as one of the most influential writers of the 20th century has only grown since his death in 2008.
The Melbourne International Film Festival will this year screen The End of the Tour, the critically acclaimed David Foster Wallace biopic starring Jason Segal and Jesse Eisenberg. In partnership with MIFF's Talking Pictures program, we’ll explore Foster Wallace’s legacy for writers and artists. We’ll discuss his impact on popular culture, the scourge of lesser imitators and how the film celebrates the work of this extraordinary writer.
Presented in partnership with Melbourne International Film Festival.
Sam Cooney runs the literary organisation TLB, which houses the independent book publishing press Brow Books and quarterly literary magazine The Lifted Brow, as well as running a website, writing prizes, events, and more. He is publisher-in-residence at RMIT, teaches sessionally at several universities, and is a freelance writer and literary critic.
Ronnie Scott is the author of Salad Days (Penguin) and founding editor of The Lifted Brow, where he published work by David Foster Wallace. He is a writer for the Saturday Paper, the Australian, The Monthly, The Believer, ABC Radio National, and many other venues.
After 20 years writing everything from local news to celebrity profiles and hundreds of book, film, food and bar reviews, Melinda Houston scored her own dream job - TV critic - in 2006. These days she contributes as a critic and columnist to most Fairfax newspapers and to radio 3AW and 2UE. She lives in Melbourne and Kat Jumps the Shark is her first novel.
Steph Harmon is founding and managing editor of Junkee, a politics, pop culture and comment site which publishes work from some of the best young journalists and writers around Australia. Prior to Junkee, Steph was the editor of music and arts streetpress The Brag, and founding editor of arts and culture website Throw Shapes. She occasionally appears on ABC radio, FBi Radio and The Project, and tweets from @stephharmon.