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Considering lobsters

January 26, 2012 ・ Blog

I really need to have another crack at reading Infinite Jest. But until then, Consider the Lobster, David Foster Wallace’s essay on the Maine Lobster Festival will have to do.

It’s pretty much amazing, effortlessly crossing from travelogue to treatise on the science and ethics of causing pain to animals to food writing to grumbles about tourism. Written for Gourmet magazine, it’s colloquial, personal, expansive, humble (maybe falsely, but hey, who’s judging?), but it conceals a the powerful payload of trying to get gourmands to think about what their food really is.

No single quote can possibly sum it up. Taken in pieces it seems to casually ramble, but as a whole it’s finely balanced and disciplined. It somehow reads as if he just tossed it off, as if anyone could have written it. But its light style brilliantly masks extensive thought, research and breadth of interest.

And to round it off, there are a couple of little barbs at Gourmet magazine’s editors. Yeah, I know, very indulgent, but hey.