Both Flesh and Not

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Both Flesh and Not: Essays
Both Flesh and Not Front Cover.jpg
First edition hardcover
Author David Foster Wallace
Cover artist Marie Mundaca
Country United States
Language English
Genre Non-fiction; essay
Publisher Little, Brown and Company
Publication date
November 6, 2012 (U.S.)
Media type Print (hardback)
Pages 336
ISBN 978-0-316-18237-9
Preceded by The Pale King

Both Flesh and Not: Essays is a collection of fifteen essays by American author David Foster Wallace published posthumously in 2012. It is Wallace’s third essay collection.[1][2][3]

List of essays[edit]

Printed between each essay are lists of obscure words and their definitions that Wallace kept.

  • "Federer Both Flesh and Not" (written in 2006) is considered one of Wallace's best essays. He describes professional tennis at its pinnacle through an examination of the talent of Roger Federer. The essay was first published in The New York Times as "Federer as Religious Experience" in 2006.
  • "Fictional Futures and the Conspicuously Young" (1988), first appeared in Review of Contemporary Fiction (1988). As the book's publisher notes in the back matter, "Some of the ideas and language in this essay appear in 'E Unibus Pluram,' [from] A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again.
  • "The Empty Plenum: David Markson’s Wittgenstein's Mistress" (1990) appeared in Review of Contemporary Fiction, 1990. Wallace very positively reviews David Markson's experimental novel Wittgenstein's Mistress (1988).
  • "Mr. Cogito" is a positive review of a book of poetry by Zbigniew Herbert. It is a short piece that appeared in Spin in 1994.
  • "Democracy and Commerce at the U.S. Open" (1996) is a first-person journalistic essay on the 1995 U.S. Open. It was written for Tennis magazine.
  • "Back in New Fire" (1996), on sex in the age of AIDS. It was first published as "Impediments to Passion" in Might magazine, 1996.
  • "The (As It Were) Seminal Importance of Terminator 2" (1998) bemoans the effect of large visual effects budgets on the movie industry. First published as "F/X Porn" in Waterstone’s Magazine, 1998.
  • "The Nature of the Fun" (1998), a reflection on writing fiction, was published in Fiction Writer, 1998.
  • "Overlooked: five direly underappreciated U.S. novels >1960" appeared on in 1999. Wallace mentions Omensetter’s Luck by William H. Gass (1966); Steps by Jerzy Kosiński (1968); Angels by Denis Johnson (1983); Blood Meridian: Or the Evening Redness in the West by Cormac McCarthy (1985); and Wittgenstein's Mistress by David Markson (1988).
  • "Rhetoric and the Math Melodrama" (2000) is a review of Philibert Schogt's The Wild Numbers and Apostolos Doxiadis's Uncle Petros & Goldbach’s Conjecture. It was published in Science.
  • "The Best of the Prose Poem" is a review of The Best of The Prose Poem: An International Journal published in Rain Taxi (2001).
  • "Twenty-Four Word Notes" (2004) is reprinted from the Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus.
  • "Borges on the Couch" (2004) is a mostly negative review of Edwin Williamson’s Borges: A Life for the New York Times Book Review, arguing that Williamson incorrectly emphasizes the effect of Borges' personal life and character on his stories.
  • "Deciderization 2007—A Special Report" was published as the introduction to The Best American Essays 2007.
  • "Just Asking" is a short political piece that appeared in The Atlantic in 2007.


  1. ^ Kakutani, Michiko (Nov 15, 2012). "Lengthy Insights, Vividly Served at High Velocity". New York Times. 
  2. ^ Weber, Bruce (September 15, 2008). "Obit". The New York Times. 
  3. ^ Kakutani, Michiko. "Obit:David Foster Wallace". The New York Times.