Read the Complete Transcript of a 1998 David Foster Wallace Interview

Books, Literature, Writers

Tom Scocca interviewed David Foster Wallace in 1998. A short version of the interview ran in The Boston Phoenix in February of ’98; Slate published a transcript the entire interview this week. It begins with phones and beards–

Q: For basic reader orientation here, are you doing this from Bloomington?

DFW: Speaking to you? Yes, sir.

Q: What sort of phone?

DFW: What sort of phone? What kind of phone is this? This is a Panasonic Easa-Phone. E-A-S-A, hyphen, P-H-O-N-E. And I don’t see a model number on it. It’s got a little answering machine attached, although the answering machine doesn’t work as often as the average consumer probably would like it to.

Q: OK. Let’s see.

DFW: You’re really going to orient that reader, aren’t you?

Q: Yeah. You have to bring the color in somehow.

DFW: Uh-huh.

Q: Any particular configuration of beard or bandana or glasses? It seems to change over time.

DFW: So what, we’re going to pretend, we’re going to pretend that we’re sitting in the same room?

Q: No.

DFW: I’ve never had a beard. I’ve tried periodically to grow a beard, and when it resembles, you know, the armpit of a 15-year-old girl who hasn’t shaved her armpit, I shave it off. I do not have a head hanky on at this point, although I did recently, ’cause I just got back from running my dogs around the countryside.

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