I feel it is my duty as a professor, reader, and lover of all things beautifully penned, that I share what could possibly be what will soon be called a classic in magazine writing. In 2003, writer and professor David Foster Wallace wrote a piece for the now defunct Gourmet magazine entitled “Consider the Lobster.” Tasked with attending and writing about the Maine Lobster Festival, Foster Wallace takes us on a journey there, but goes in a completely different direction. He asks us to weigh the ethical considerations of eating (and boiling live) lobster. He was not a member of PETA, nor did he abstain from eating seafood and meats, but his methodical investigation into lobster and lobster eating is unmatched. He carefully builds an argument, but ultimately wants readers to do only one thing: consider the lobster (and ultimately, the many different animal foods we eat).
Gourmet magazine took a risk with this article; a magazine typically focused on foods and preparation of foods, they had never before published such a controversial think-piece in this manner. The editor was brave and knew she had a good thing on her hands. In the research I have done, it appears this particular piece is going to go down in history as one of the finest.
Sadly, David Foster Wallace, who suffered from severe depression, took his own life in 2008. The world will miss his brilliant and intriguing style of storytelling and essay composition, and I hope my class appreciates our discussion today of this fantastic example of magazine writing.
NOTE: Foster Wallace’s book which contains many of his essays, is entitled “Consider the Lobster” and is available via Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com.