Day 3

40 Days of Bad Patches, Day 3:

As an undergraduate, David Foster Wallace was a double major in English and Philosophy. His senior thesis on the semantics of physical modality was posthumously published in 2011 as “Fate, Time and Language.” That book includes an essay in which his thesis advisor, Jay Garfield, reflects on the experience of working with Wallace.

“I knew at the time…that David was also writing a novel as a thesis in English. But I never took that seriously. I thought of David as a very talented young philosopher with a writing hobby, and did not realize that instead he was one of the most talented fiction writers of his generation with a philosophy hobby. Of course, he returned to philosophy for a while years later, and I am sure that had he stuck with it, and had he lived, he would have been a major figure in our field.”

Of course, if that’s what he thought of Wallace’s combination of literary and philosophical talent, I can’t imagine the awe Garfield must have felt in 2012, when Colin McGinn self-published his novel “Bad Patches.”

Here, for example, is how McGinn describes the character of Mick on p. 12:

“The thing about Mick that you need to know is that he is always pissed. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Mick when he’s not pissed.

“…He has no girlfriend either, or didn’t when I saw him last. I hope he hasn’t got one now. Maybe that’s why he’s always pissed. Not having a girlfriend does make you pissed all the time.”


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