Monday, July 23, 2012

Strange Literary Lunch Buddies Story of the Day

Posted By on Mon, Jul 23, 2012 at 3:00 PM

I have to admit, I've probably demonized Justice Antonin Scalia, partially because he seems like an insufferable jerk, but I don't know, I tend to think I could get along with anyone who's a David Foster Wallace fan. I feel so conflicted.

Among the legacies of David Foster Wallace, the pioneering postmodernist who produced influential essays, short stories and the novel “Infinite Jest” before his 2008 suicide, count this: Antonin Scalia, author. Or, at least, co-author of “Reading Law,” which the justice discusses today with The Wall Street Journal.

“He was a very personable fellow,” Justice Scalia says of Mr. Wallace in an interview. “As co-Snoots, we got along very well,” he adds, using a term Mr. Wallace popularized for those whose taste in diction runs to the persnickety. According to a 2001 Wallace essay, it could stand for “Syntax Nudniks of Our Time.”

Justice Scalia made a point of meeting Mr. Wallace during a 2007 visit to Claremont, Calif., where the shaggy-haired writer, sometimes seen in a do-rag, taught at Pomona College. The two had lunch, says Bryan A. Garner, a lexicographer and legal-writing consultant from Texas who arranged the encounter.

Mr. Wallace found it eye-opening, he says.

“He said, ‘Politically, we’re not alike at all, but that was really a fascinating lunch,’” says Mr. Garner, co-author of “Reading Law” and one earlier book with Justice Scalia.

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