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David Foster Wallace, via the Decemberists [video]

August 22, 2011 |  5:25 pm


David Foster Wallace's 1,104-page novel "Infinite Jest" may not yet be ready for translation to the big screen, but a portion of it inspired the new video for "Calamity Song" by the Decemberists from "The King is Dead."

Lead singer Colin Meloy had just finished reading "Infinite Jest" when he wrote the song, he tells NPR.

The book didn't so much inspire the song itself, but Wallace's irreverent and brilliant humor definitely wound its way into the thing. And I had this funny idea that a good video for the song would be a re-creation of the Enfield Tennis Academy's round of Eschaton — basically, a global thermonuclear crisis re-created on a tennis court — that's played about a third of the way into the book. Thankfully, after having a good many people balk at the idea, I found a kindred spirit in Michael Schur, a man with an even greater enthusiasm for Wallace's work than my own. With much adoration and respect to this seminal, genius book, this is what we've come up with. I can only hope DFW would be proud.

Wallace, as far as I know, never recorded an indie rock album, but Meloy has ventured into the publishing world. He's the author of the 33 1/3 book "Let it Be," a memoir about listening to the Replacements, and is the author of the upcoming middle-grade book "Wildwood," illustrated by his wife, said to be the first in a trilogy.

Maybe the next Decemberists video will include something else inspired by David Foster Wallace's writing: processing tax forms ("The Pale King") or taking a cruise ("A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again").


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-- Carolyn Kellogg