Thursday, September 17, 2015

What is Catherine Reef reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Catherine Reef, author of Noah Webster: Man of Many Words.

Her entry begins:
Recently I spent a season—more than a season, really—with David Foster Wallace’s astonishing masterpiece, Infinite Jest. In the final paragraphs, the character Don Gately, hospitalized for a gunshot wound and with a fever that has spiked dangerously, emerges from a hallucinatory nightmare to perceive that he is lying on a cold beach at low tide in the rain. The medical staff has plunged Gately’s massive body into an icy bath; this much is clear. But Wallace left me to decide whether Gately lives or dies. I’m still unsure, although I’m leaning toward life, in part because another great book had been tugging at my memory while I read Infinite Jest. I had to be optimistic after recalling its rapturous closing: “Certainly we shall all rise again, certainly we shall see each other and shall tell each other with joy and gladness all that has happened!”

I’m not the first person to notice that Infinite Jest and The Brothers Karamazov have a great deal in common. Three brothers whose alcoholic father dies in an ugly way; a father and son vying for the same woman; a safe place that represents a retreat from the surrounding culture, Ennet House Drug and Alcohol Recovery House in Wallace and the monastery in Dostoyevsky; a scene toward the end of Infinite Jest that pays homage to the parable of the Grand Inquisitor in the earlier novel—a thoughtful reader of both books will...[read on]
About Noah Webster: Man of Many Words, from the publisher:
Noah Webster may be best remembered the enormous and ambitious task of writing his famous dictionary, but for him, this accomplishment was a means to an end. His true goal was to streamline the language spoken in our newly formed country so that it could be used as a force to bring people together and be a source of national pride. Though people laughed at his ideas, Webster never doubted himself. In the end, his so-called foolish notions achieved just what he had hoped.

Here, in the only account of Noah Webster for teens, the seasoned biographer Catherine Reef guides us through Webster's remarkable life, from boyhood on a Connecticut farm through the fight for American independence to his days as a writer and political activist who greatly influenced our Founding Fathers and the direction of the young United States.
Visit Catherine Reef's website.

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--Marshal Zeringue