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How a college grad would interpret the gift of a book of life advice written by a man who proceeded to take his own life, well, one would need a writer with Wallace’s darkly comic gifts to pen such a scene. One’s sympathies go out to the editors: how to publish a speech of 137 sentences into a book? The unfortunate solution was to place just one sentence per page, giving the book the look and feel of an oracular text: Khalil Gibran’s The Prophet or Rumi’s love poetry. Those who embraced Wallace’s phenomenal talent may find themselves wishing the Kenyon speech had been left unbound, to be folded into a future edition of his nonfiction as a three- or four-page coda. Here, when a three-word sentence—“And so on,” page 87—is forced to balance an entire page on its shoulders, the reader starts to feel sorry not only for the sentence, but—if such indulgences may be permitted—for Wallace, posthumous.

Get it? A 137-sentence college graduation speech by David Foster Wallace has been turned into a glossy fifteen dollar book by printing only one sentence – or sentence fragment – on each page.

And, you know, it’s a good speech, UD has written admiringly about it – but many of those pages express, as Wallace himself said, the self-evident.

The book’s packaged as self-help, Oprah-style. Part of its title is Living a Compassionate Life.

Live Your Best Life Now!

It might remind you of Randy Pausch, a similar phenom, though Pausch had more interesting things to say, and wrote with far more verve.

Or again it might remind you, with its page-per-sentence simplification, its big-print infantility, of Doctor Seuss.

It might remind you of

daily motivational calendars.

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