Last week, speaking to David Remnick at The New Yorker Festival, Jonathan Franzen dropped a literary bomb of sorts. (That's on top of confirming rumors that an HBO adaptation of his novel The Corrections was in the works.) The Nation's Eric Alterman attended the talk and rehashed on his blog the literary dirt Franzen dished on a (sadly deceased) peer.
The moment of actual drama came when Franzen was discussing David Foster Wallace and told Remnick that Wallace felt free to make stuff up for his non-fiction, including, particularly his famous cruise piece for Harper’s. [...] I’m not sure Franzen should have said it, and Remnick appeared awfully surprised, but he also mentioned that Wallace never published any non-fiction in The New Yorker.
As a leading member of the literary generation immediately succeeding that of the New Journalists, Wallace certainly imported fictional tropes into his nonfiction. The fact that he may have crossed that invisible line and outright fictionalized some of his supposed journalism will likely distress some purists — perhaps with reason — but he would not be the first standout writer to do so. For now, guess it's up to each reader to decide whether total accuracy is too high a price to pay or not.
99 and a Half Just Won't Do... [Eric Alterman/Nation]