Consider the Lobster and Other Essays - David Foster Wallace A series of lucid, well-written, essays on a variety of topics. Reminiscent of John McPhee's better essays with a moral tinge, a linkage of the aesthetic with the moral, if you will. The one on the reaction of people in Bloomington/Normal Illinois to 9/11 is both insightful and poignant. I especially liked the way he handled the issue of pain in the lobster: unhysterical, rational, and detailed with correct information. He asks if gastronomes, i.e. those who delight in the preparation and presentation of food, think much about “the moral status and probable suffering of the animals involved, and, if so, what ethical system have they “worked out to enjoy gastronomic culture. Is it the product of actual thought? Or do you just not want to think about it?” Will the Maine Lobster festival be seen decades from now much as we view the Roman games?

This is not the kind of book you want to listen to in the car with your kids or grand-kids. In the third essay, his descriptions of events at the Adult Video awards (which began in 1982 coincident with the rise of VCRs.) The exhibits at their convention got even my normally unflappable nature perturbed. The idea that an exhibitor would have a starlet squatting on his table masturbating with a riding crop was a bit much. The judges for the awards have to sit through the equivalent of 1.4 years of sexual coupling and after their eyes glazed over I suspect their “members” (to quote Fanny Hill) probably locked into a permanently flaccid state much like workers in chocolate factories who are permitted to eat all the chocolate they want, soon develop a positive distaste for the stuff.

All of this leads me to an observation. Many of the essays reveal a deep concern on the part of Wallace for wanting to examine all the moral ramifications of his subject. I'm beginning to understand why he committed suicide. He must have deeply disturbed by what he discovered.