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Forget the footnotes

David Foster Wallace was an essayist of the first rank

By Matthew Walther  

(photo: Giovanni Giovannetti/effigie)

Both Flesh and Not: Essays by David Foster Wallace (Hamish Hamilton, £20)

The name David Foster Wallace refers to three distinct writers. The first was a highbrow, encyclopaedic novelist; the second was an essayist of the first rank; and the third was the giver of a famous inspirational talk (“This is Water”) quoted frequently on the internet. I confess to having little interest in the first of these figures, and none whatsoever in the third. For me, Wallace was almost exclusively…

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