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David Lipsky Discusses ‘The End of the Tour’ and David Foster Wallace [Audio]

This week, I had the opportunity to speak with award-winning author David Lipsky.

In 1996, Lipsky spent five days with author David Foster Wallace during Wallace’s book tour for Infinite Jest to write a story for Rolling Stone. Those five days are the subject of the new movie The End of the Tour.

Lipsky discusses the first time he experienced Wallace’s writing, the time they spent together, The End of the Tour and more.

David Foster Wallace is considered a genius by many. Wallace was well-known in the early 90s, but his second novel, Infinite Jest, elevated him to rockstar status. It was at this time that David Lipsky joined Wallace for five days on a book tour.

Lipsky talks about how writers would brag when they got to read Wallace’s work early, about editing him and about hanging out with him “because he was just so charming and great to talk to.”

The five-day interview took place in March of 1996. Lipsky says the death of Shannon Hoon and the increased attention of heroin use pushed back the publication of the interview with Wallace which eventually caused it to be shelved entirely.

After Wallace’s death in 2008 Rolling Stone asked Lipsky to write about Wallace. Lipsky declined at the time because he was too sad and didn’t want to write about him, he just wanted to read Wallace’s work.

Later, Lipsky agreed to talk about Wallace in a radio interview to keep Wallace’s work “alive” and “electric” and to avoid having “the end of his life be the way you think about the entirety of his life.”

After the radio interview, Lipsky wrote about Wallace for Rolling Stone. The article Lipsky wrote won a 2009 National Magazine Award.

Lipsky’s book about the tape recordings of the five days he spent with Wallace, Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself, was released in 2010. The movie based on that book, The End of the Tour, premiered this year to strong reviews.

Lipsky reviews Jason Segel’s performance saying, “He gets it right. He worked really hard. He read all of David’s stuff. He listened to the recordings of David and me driving around in the Midwest. He really tried to make himself really expert on who this great writer had been.”

Lipsky said the final scene with Segel and Eisenberg together was just how he remembered, “it was thrilling to me to see how right that was even down to the weather and the way it felt.”

Keith Bedford/Getty Images

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