David Foster Wallace: Loves Fear of Flying
Tue Jan 23 2007
An addictive new compendium of lists landed on my desk today: The Top Ten: Writers Pick Their Favorite Books, edited by J. Peder Zane (Norton, $14.95). It's interesting to glimpse at the personal pantheons of Mary Gaitskill, Paula Fox, Stephen King and others. There aren't many surprises, as Tolstoy, Flaubert, Nabokov and Proust figure prominently in many of the lists (duh). Some authors point the way to lost classics: Arthur Phillips nods to Georges Perec's Life: A User's Manual, Jonathan Franzen namechecks Australian novelist Christina Stead, and Jonathan Raban singles out a lesser-known P.G. Wodehouse comedy, Summer Lightning. But the most bizarre—and the most interesting—top-ten featured here is by the brainy Infinite Jest author David Foster Wallace, who picks books by Thomas Harris, Erica Jong and Tom Clancy. Occupying his No. 9 slot is Alligator, Shelley Katz's man-versus-beast thriller about a 20-foot alligator in the Everglades. Unfortunately, there are no footnotes explaining Wallace's selections.