Writing vs. Television

David Foster Wallace vs. The Amazing Race



Sam Lipsyte vs. Deadwood



Robert Lowell vs. Mad Men



Writing holds up pretty damn well. I’m not sure who handles Lost or battles CSI (any suggestions?). I still think Dan is right: “Setting entertainment as the goal, in order to ‘compete’ with Lost, is a losing battle.” Is your writing in competition with television?


  • Brett says:

    Well, to try to make my writing that much more entertaining, I’m going to incorporate Lost’s Smoke Monster into all of my poems.

  • Dan J. Vice says:

    That entire Wallace state-fair piece, published in full as “Getting Away from Already Being Pretty Much Away from It All,” is awesome. As is that whole book (A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again).

    P.S. Thanks for the segue. I was trying to find a place for this link, and here it is: The David Foster Wallace Audio Project.

  • Jason Sommer jason says:

    more dfw news: the university of texas just acquired the david foster wallace archive. the book bench blog has a post with a whole bunch of links about it.

    • TJ Fuller says:

      I saw that. I can’t read all the text he wrote in those books. Opens for the public in the fall, right?

      Who does Don Delillo battle? The Sopranos? The Wire?

  • Pete says:

    The only TV that my writing can even hope to compete with is single-camera Senate subcommittee deliberations on CNBC.

  • Shawn Vestal says:

    I want to say this made me feel that writing always beats TV. But what it really made me feel is that i ought to watch all those deadwood episodes again. Al Swearingen is amazing, and it’s worth remembering that someone wrote him, before he was ever acted.

  • Sam Ligon says:

    Television for me is almost always nothing more than a narcotic. I use it to disappear from myself and my mind, to become disengaged. Serious reading for me is the opposite, though I still might disappear to a degree — but in a different way. I’m fully engaged when I’m reading, my mind and imagination active. Some television does more fully engage my imagination, shows like The Sopranos or The Wire or Deadwood, but as Shawn mentions above, I’m almost always aware in these cases of just how great the writing is, until I get lost in the story again, like I’m supposed to. And I don’t finish that experience of watching a “good” show — full of complex characters and interesting, revealing dialogue and plot movement – feeling like I do with most television, which is narcotized. I end up with my mind still in motion, still active. I try not to bitch too much about television. I like its narcotic effect. I am always stunned, though, when it does anything more than that.

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