Wallace's reader

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Who is Wallace's reader?

Wallace's writing has the distinctive quality of being able to connect to the universal reader and at the same time, leave his reader feeling singular, as if the writer has captured precisely her feelings, her experiences, and her existence. Although his writing is syntactically difficult and vocabulary-wise sophisticated, his themes are universally relevant. In certain pieces, Wallace's writing directs its attention to a specific reader. For example, in "Consider the Lobster," Wallace seems to write to the lobster eater and in particular, "you, the festival attendee" (253). In "Authority and American Usage," Wallace treats his reader as a fellow SNOOT. In Everything and More, the writer aims his attention to readers of all mathematical levels. But no matter whom the writing attends to, Wallace's writing, no matter what, gives his reader something new, something different--a perspective, an awareness, a feeling, or even just a thought.

In his interview with Larry McCaffery, Wallace is asked who he imagines his readership to be. His response:

I suppose it’s people more or less like me, in their twenties and thirties, maybe, with enough experience or good education to have realized that the hard work serious fiction requires of a reader sometimes has a payoff. People who’ve been raised with U.S. commercial culture and are engaged with it and informed by it and fascinated with it but still hungry for something commercial art can’t provide. Yuppies, I guess, and younger intellectuals, whatever.