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Arts & Life

Pop Culture Happy Hour Small Batch: The End Of The Tour

Jason Segel as David Foster Wallace in <em>The End Of The Tour</em>.
Jason Segel as David Foster Wallace in <em>The End Of The Tour</em>.

The End Of The Tour is an odd little film, made more so by the fact that it's being rolled out at the height of summer, a span of the cinematic year not generally associated with talky two-handers about writers, writing and the wages of literary fame.

It's based on a series of interviews conducted with the late writer David Foster Wallace by David Lipsky, who was on assignment for Rolling Stone at the time. (Rolling Stone never ran Lipsky's profile, but after Wallace's death by suicide in 2008, Lipsky published the transcripts of his interviews in the book Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself.)

In the film, Jason Segel stars as Wallace; Jesse Eisenberg plays Lipsky.

For this Small Batch, I asked NPR Music's Katie Presley, like me a DFW devotee, to join me as we share our respective reactions to the film. We begin by recounting the very different ways we first came to David Foster Wallace the writer, and why those first encounters caused us both to devour everything the man wrote.

While we both treasure Wallace's work, I think it's fair to say that Katie's sense of, and affection for, Wallace the man is stronger than mine, so we discuss how that colored our feelings going into this film. Finally, we talk about how the movie itself left us, and we bring in some of Wallace's friends and family's negative reactions to the whole notion of the movie in the first place. (Katie also mentions one particular critique made in this New Yorker review.)

Along the way, we namecheck several pieces of Wallace's vivid, humane, ferociously intelligent, precise-but-never-precious writing. Even if you don't see the film, you should really really really seek it out, because, empirically: Wow.

Here they are, in more or less the order we mention them:


Consider The Lobster, an essay reprinted in his 2005 collection of the same name

A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, an essay reprinted in the 1997 collection of the same name


Forever Overhead, a brilliant short story reprinted in the 1999 collection, Brief Interviews With Hideous Men

The Broom Of The System, his 1987 debut novel

Girl With The Curious Hair, a 1989 collection

And, Of Course

Infinite Jest, his hugely ambitious 1996 great big giant honking Great American Novel

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