Andy Hansen

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How Tracy Austin Broke My Heart - David Foster Wallace

  • storytelling
  • stories
  • david-foster-wallace

It’s an absolute thrill to read an exciting story. A story so engrossing that you lose track of time as you slowly fall into it. In “How Tracy Austin Broke My Heart”, you get a real understanding on what good writing is able to do as David Foster Wallace breaks down his disappointment in Tracy Austin’s lifeless autobiography.

It’s a pretty lame realisation, “good writing makes a story more interesting”, but this essay flipped a switch in my head. Tracy’s achievements are nothing short of incredible, but the dull language makes it impossible to feel drawn into her life story. You can have amazing life experiences but you properly unpack your experience, then it is nearly worthless as a story.

I highly recommend giving the essay a read, or if audio books are more your thing, you can listen to David Foster Wallace himself reading it on YouTube below.

If you liked my post, or feel like I could have done something better, please let me know in the comments! I’m doing my best, but I’ve still got a long way to go.

Note: This is my second attempt at this post. The first ended up way too much like a terrible high school essay. I felt compelled to remove my poorly written justifications, and just stick to the basics. "I like this essay because it is written good". [You can find the old version on GitHub.](https://github.com/andyhansen/blog/blob/9167215ce27874420b03927ad9b4291d94d39d81/_posts/2018-08-05-david-foster-wallce-tracy-austin.md)