By Josh Roiland
Longreads | December 2017 | 32 minutes (8,200 words)
At a hip Manhattan book launch forJohn Jeremiah Sullivan’s 2011 essay collection Pulphead,David Rees, the event’s emcee, asked the two-time National Magazine Award winner,“So John…are you the next David Foster Wallace?” The exchange is startling for its absurdity, and Sullivan shakes his head in disbelief before finally answering, “No, that’s—I’m embarrassed by that.” But the comparison has attached itself to Sullivan and a host of other young literary journalists whom critics have noted bear resemblance to Wallace in style, subject matter, and voice.
WhenLeslie Jamison published The Empathy Exams, her 2014 collection of essays and journalism,a Slate review said “her writing often recalls the work of David Foster Wallace.” Similarly, whenMichelle Orange’s This is Running for Your Life appeared a year earlier, areview in the…
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