Iain Williams is a PhD candidate at the University of Edinburgh. His research focuses on David Foster Wallace and how his work engages with notions of sincerity and authenticity. He holds an MA (Hons) in American Studies and an MSc in U.S. Literature, both from Edinburgh. An article on Wallace is forthcoming in the journal Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction.

Book Review: The Gospel According to David Foster Wallace: Boredom and Addiction in an Age of Distraction by Adam S. Miller

Even for those only casually acquainted with the field of Wallace Studies, the sanctimonious title of this slender volume from Adam S. Miller (Collin College, Texas) – part of Bloomsbury’s ‘New Directions in Religion and Literature’ series – might prompt alarm bells. Indeed, whilst the claim on the back cover – that this is ‘the first book to explore key religious themes’ in the work of Wallace – may be technically true, this is not a subject area that will be unfamiliar to Wallace scholars. Continue reading

Book Review: Critical Insights: David Foster Wallace edited by Philip Coleman

In Adam Kelly’s overview of the critical field surrounding David Foster Wallace (1962-2008), he notes that during the last years of Wallace’s life there was ‘a steady stream of scholarly interest, but more recently that stream has become a torrent’ (46). If we consider the vast amount of blogs, reviews, and think pieces, that have emerged to coincide with the recent U.S. release of the film The End of the Tour – which portrays five days with Wallace on the promotional tour for Infinite Jest (1996) – we can discern that that torrent has become a deluge. Indeed, it may be that we are fast approaching – or have already hurtled past – the point that marks ‘peak Wallace’. Continue reading

Book Review: American Fiction in Transition: Observer-Hero Narrative, the 1990s, and Postmodernism by Adam Kelly

American Fiction in Transition focuses on four novels from the ‘long 1990s’ – Philip Roth’s The Human Stain (2000); Paul Auster’s Leviathan (1992); Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Virgin Suicides (1993); E. L. Doctorow’s The Waterworks (1994) – that are emblematic of what Kelly convincingly argues is a significant contemporary literary genre: the observer-hero narrative. Continue reading

Book Review: The Maximalist Novel: From Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow to Roberto Bolaño’s 2666 by Stefano Ercolino

In this assertive monograph Ercolino seeks to introduce and codify the formal characteristics of what he terms the ‘maximalist novel’: ‘an aesthetically hybrid genre of the contemporary novel’ that emerged in the United States with William Gaddis’s The Recognitions (1955) (xi). Continue reading

Conference Review: ‘Supposedly Fun Things: A Colloquium on the Writing of David Foster Wallace’

‘Supposedly Fun Things: A Colloquium on the Writing of David Foster Wallace’ Held at Birkbeck, University of London 7 February 2015   A building as twistingly complex as some of Wallace’s sentences provided the venue for Birkbeck, University of London’s ‘Supposedly Fun Things: A Colloquium on the Writing of David… Continue reading

Book Review: Gesturing Toward Reality: David Foster Wallace and Philosophy edited by Robert K. Bolger and Scott Korb

“Allard den Dulk provides by far the most impressive essay in the collection, suggesting a Sartrean model of pre-reflection as an ideal philosophical model for Wallace’s characters, an assertion that goes against the dominant critical consensus that Wallace was a proponent of choice.” Continue reading

60 Seconds With Iain Williams

If you could time-travel to observe one moment in the history of America, where would you go?

“So many possibilities! I think I’d have to travel back a couple of hundred years and visit Yosemite Valley, without having seen it in photographs first. That would be pretty special. Failing that, Hill Valley in 1955 to see Marty McFly play ‘Johnny B. Goode’ for the first time.” Continue reading

Review of American Imperialism and Identity Conference

American Imperialism and National Identity Conference, University of Durham 14 June 2014   With Iraq in turmoil and U.S. military involvement in the Middle East once again in the spotlight, the timing of the ‘American Imperialism and National Identity Conference’ on the 14th of June at St. Aidan’s College, University… Continue reading