Emdashes—Modern Times Between the Lines

The Basics:
About Emdashes | Email us

Before it moved to The New Yorker:
Ask the Librarians

Best of Emdashes: Hit Parade
A Web Comic: The Wavy Rule


We Like David Foster Wallace Because of ... Evolutionary Psychology?

Filed under: The Katharine Wheel: On Fiction   Tagged: , , , , , ,

Benjamin Chambers writes:

A spate of actual work has kept me from commenting on the recent Steven Millhauser and Italo Calvino stories in The New Yorker, let alone the new excerpt from David Foster Wallace’s unfinished novel that appears in the March 9, 2009 issue. But it hasn’t stopped me from running across this breathless announcement that Wallace’s novel will be published next year, along with the surprising (and not entirely reliable) announcement that his first novel, Infinite Jest, is among the 10 longest novels ever written. (Here’s the complete list.)

Why do we humans like narrative, anyway? Professor William Flesch tackled this question in his 2008 book, Comeuppance: Costly Signaling, Altruistic Punishment, and Other Biological Components in Fiction, which was apparently one of James Wood’s favorite books of 2008. According to Flesch, his book uses “ideas of evolutionary psychology and particularly evolutionary game theory to explain why narratives work.”

Wallace, I suspect, would’ve been intrigued.

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, it may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Thanks for waiting.)

2008 Webby Awards Official Honoree