Fat Books & Thin Women

Story Sunday: David Foster Wallace’s “Backbone”
August 7, 2011, 4:19 pm
Filed under: Story Sundays | Tags: , , , , ,

Story Sundays is a weekly feature at Fat Books & Thin Women. Always short stories, always ones available online for free.

If I were telling someone where to start with David Foster Wallace, I’d recommend his essays over his short stories, which I find pretty hit-or-miss. That’s why I haven’t written about him for Story Sundays before today – I’m so incapable of mustering enthusiasm for his stories that it seems wrong to recommend works I find intriguing but not satisfying.

<a href="http://www.newyorker.com/fiction/features/2011/03/07/110307fi_fiction_wallace#ixzz1ULuTN1w4&quot; target="_blank"Backbone" was published in The New Yorker back in March, though, and ever since I read it I’ve been debating putting it up here. So much of the story’s odd imagery, with a boy whose “goal was to be able to press his lips to every square inch of his own body”, is eerie and unforgettable. The story has the asides, the sometimes playful use of jargon, that is typical of Wallace’s work, but these elements never overshadow the central image of the boy contorting his body and slowly making his body entirely accessible to himself.

Read “Backbone” online

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