Books, Non-Fiction, Reviews

BOOK REVIEW: The Last Interview and Other Conversations by David Foster Wallace

THE LAST INTERVIEW and OTHER CONVERSATIONS is a collection of interviews of David Forster Wallace including the last interview he gave before his death. Earlier this year I read his book Infinite Jest which I still think is a bit overrated due its length but I got curios about this writer-who-wears-bandana’s intellect. On reading this book, I got a glance on his intellect more. It’s an insight and you don’t need to read between the lines. Just read the answers David Foster Wallace gave to several interviewers’ questions.

In THE LAST INTERVIEW and OTHER CONVERSATIONS, David Foster Wallace not only answers the questions regarding his books and essays or collection of his essays rather he has an opinion on various subjects. He talks politics, his teaching career, a book reviewer’s POV, on the film The Good Will Hunting, the role of footnotes in Infinite Jest, pop culture and for rest you have to read the book. It’s not as big as Infinite Jest, in fact quite intact.

In every interview, there two important things that are the create a structure of an interview. The Interviewer and the interviewee. Both have a role play to play. I always wonder, since the interviewer at times, is under some amount of pressure of asking the right questions, but how much pressure does the interviewee is in when answering those questions? Do interviewee feel the pressure at all?

Again, for an interviewer (being one myself and in my opinion), the task is not that of asking the right questions but to ask those questions such that the interviewee’s intellect can be known to the audience. There should be some quality in the questions of course.

It’s a 4 out of 5!

The list of interviews in this book are as follow:

  •  “Something Real American”: Interview by Laura Miller, Salon, 9 March 1996
  •  “There Can Be No Spokesperson”: Interview by Tom Scocca, Boston Phoenix, 20 February 1998
  •  “A Brief Interview with a Five-Draft Man”: Interview by Stacey Schmeidel, Amherst Magazine, Spring 1999
  •  “To Try Extra Hard to Exercise Patience, Politeness, and Imagination”: Interview by Dave Eggers, The Believer, November 2003
  •  “Some Kind of Terrible Burden”: Interview by Steve Paulson, To the Best of Our Knowledge, 19 June 2004
  •  “The Last Interview”: Interview by Christopher Farley, Wall Street Journal, May 2008



6 thoughts on “BOOK REVIEW: The Last Interview and Other Conversations by David Foster Wallace”

  1. I’m not one for fiction, except sci-fi, until recently. I find David Foster Wallace easier to listen to than read. I find his descriptions specially of human psycology tantalising, although understandably subjective. In many ways I find his fiction more real than most of the non-fiction stories. The greater narrative is usually lost to the tremendously rich mini stories within the book. He is definately opinionated, but in an true idealist, and activist manner. It is clear he struggled to reconcile this with reality or the other person in him, the one with the wants. He is a true Savant, and his unique writing style will be missed. May he get the peace in death which eluded him in life. Apart from taking his life, he is a great example of how melancholy can bring creative inspiration, and better to use and manage it, than cure it by numbing the pain.


  2. I didn’t know about the book of interview/conversations. Thanks for mentioning it. I’m really not a fan of his fiction. I tried Infinite Jest (could not get through it) and read only a couple of short stories to the end. But I absolutely love his essays. Their poignant, so honest, smart, funny and sometimes heartbreaking (love “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again” collection of essays — the title essay I found especially moving). I’m also curious about the movie!


    1. Infinite Jest was also not meant for me, though I realised that when I was managed to finish it. I recently read another of his novel, The Pale King which is better written than Jest but does not have an ending. I have never read his essays and am looking forward to read them. Thanks for sharing your experience.


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