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Never in the history of the world has there been a people so infamous for their consumptive practices as present-day Americans. From gluttonous fast-food intake to SUVs, from yuletide shopping mall fist-fights to the countless hours spent in front of television sets, Americans are in many ways defined by a cultural need to consume. Some might say that we have come to view the world as an all-you-can-eat buffet, where we feast far beyond contentment and still go back for more.

One popular reading of Wallace's work finds in it the proposal that our outrageous consumptive habits comprise our attempts to ease the discomfort and loneliness of recognizing that we are stuck inside ourselves. Wallace explores the many levels of this issue throughout his career, both in fictional stories and nonfictional accounts of American events and pastimes.

Occurrences in Wallace's work