Podcast • January 22, 2014
It was David Foster Wallace’s fine biographer D. T. Max who remarked to me months ago that the Boston dimensions of Wallace and his masterpiece Infinite Jest had not been taken in. Spot on, I ...
It was David Foster Wallace’s fine biographer D. T. Max who remarked to me months ago that the Boston dimensions of Wallace and his masterpiece Infinite Jest had not been taken in. Spot on, I realized. The Wallace I met and interviewed (fumblingly, I’m afraid) in 1996 when Infinite Jest appeared seemed lost somewhere between his midwestern beginnings and the oceanic anxieties, addictions, hunger and general weirdness of our times. But Max prompted me to read Infinite Jest all over again, and of course he’s right: the book is a map of the hospital hilltop in Brighton; of Prospect Street in Cambridge between Inman and Central Squares; of Harvard Square and McLean Hospital; of the fashionably seedy precincts, then and now, of Somerville on the edge of East Cambridge. So I asked D. T. Max — the New Yorker staff writer who contributed that memorable obituary profile — who Wallace was after all, and what persuaded Max himself to undertake a serious biography, Every Love Story is a Ghost Story.
David is the author of his time who has the fairest chance to be read 50 years from now… I really feel the way David touched the themes of the 1990s – themes of addiction and excessive entertainment in American culture have become even more outstanding and more relevant to most of us, and when you reread Infinite Jest today – it’s really a novel that’s fundamentally about television and video, but you read it today and you think you’re reading a novel about the Internet.
D. T. Max with Chris Lydon at M.I.T., Spring 2013
Podcast • January 8, 2014
Mary Gordon – a steady light among American writers labeled ‘Catholic’ – has strong, mixed emotions about the Pope who loves the same steamy Anna Magnani movies that the Catholic church used to ban. She ...
Mary Gordon – a steady light among American writers labeled ‘Catholic’ – has strong, mixed emotions about the Pope who loves the same steamy Anna Magnani movies that the Catholic church used to ban. She “burst into tears,” Gordon remembers, when she first read Pope Francis’ open-hearted interview in the Jesuit magazine America — his identification of himself as, first, “a sinner;” his picture of his church as “a field hospital after battle,” his sharp turn from “obsessive” fixations on sex. She got “hysterically giddy,” she’s telling me, then “scared.” Her tears signaled “how sad I’d been, for so long” about her church. Hope seems possible again, and disappointment, too. She makes writerly distinctions here – that “tone” matters and the Pope’s is a radical turn; but that his “diction” is different when he speaks of women in the priesthood. “His phrase was ‘the door is closed.’ What’s the one thing he won’t talk about? Giving full power to women.”
Mary Gordon is prized as independent-minded, feminist, faithful, and nuanced in novels and searching reflections from Final Payments (1978) to Reading Jesus (2009).
Mary Gordon gave us a roster of female theologians we all might get to know better: Elizabeth Johnson of Fordham, Sandra Schneiders of Santa Clara, Lisa Cahill of Boston College, Margaret Farley at Yale and Mary Boys of the Union Theological Seminary in New York.