Consider the Lobster and Other Essays Background

Consider the Lobster and Other Essays Background

David Foster Wallace is an American novelist born on February 21, 1962 in Ithaca, New York. He was raised in a family of academics as both his parents were teachers. After graduating high school, he attended Amherst College to study English and philosophy. However, his university years were devastated by bouts of depression and drug abuse. Yet, he did not fail academically and his senior thesis, The Broom of the System (1987), became his first published novel.

In 2005, Wallace published a book of essays entitled Consider the Lobster. It is a series of arbitrary personal anecdotes that occurred throughout his adult life. The essay topics range from the ethicality of boiling lobsters alive for mere entertainment value to a review of a Fyodor Dostoyevsky biography to his opinions on John McCain in the 2000 presidential election. He offers a unique perspective and refreshing insight into the complexity of human decision-making.

Consider the Lobster received positive reactions from critics and audiences. Robert McCrum of The Guardian stated that Wallace’s book “demonstrates a contemporary American master working at the extreme edge of the radar, asking question after question about the mad, mad world in which he finds himself.”

Despite Wallace’s successful career in writing, he could not combat his major depressive order and his antidepressants were ineffective in fully treating his illness. On September 12, 2008, at only 46-years-old, he committed suicide by hanging himself. One of Wallace’s unfinished works,titled The Pale King, was published posthumously in 2011.

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