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Unpublished David Foster Wallace story donated to the Ransom Center

By Megan Barnard

The Ransom Center’s extensive David Foster Wallace collection was recently enriched by a donation of the original manuscript of a little-known, unpublished story, titled “Shorn.” Wallace wrote the two-page story, about a boy having his hair cut by his mother, while a graduate student at the University of Arizona. The manuscript was donated by Karen Green, who was married to Wallace and now heads the David Foster Wallace Literary Trust.


The typed manuscript now resides at the Ransom Center alongside drafts of Infinite Jest, The Pale King, and Wallace’s other celebrated works; his childhood writings; correspondence; teaching materials; and his library of annotated books. The Ransom Center acquired David Foster Wallace’s archive in 2010 and has supplemented the archive in the years since with materials from Wallace’s literary agent, his publisher, and others.


These materials offer an unparalleled opportunity for researchers to gain deeper insight into Wallace’s work and his creative process, and they are among the Center’s most frequently researched collections. Biographers, literary scholars, students, and teachers have all studied the collection to learn more about Wallace’s writing. Since the Wallace archive became accessible in 2010, the Ransom Center has extended more than 14 research fellowships to support scholarly projects related to Wallace’s archive. The recent gift of Wallace’s story “Shorn” makes the archive an even richer resource.


The story is now accessible in the Ransom Center’s reading room.


Image: First page of unpublished short story manuscript of “Shorn” by David Foster Wallace. © David Foster Wallace Literary Trust. Harry Ransom Center.


Nick Maniatis

It was pointed out to me that this appears to be an earlier draft of “Yet Another Example of the Porousness of Certain Borders (XXIV)” from Brief Interviews with Hideous Men.


ths old friend f both dfw n hrc
found ths past winter a copy f ths pc frm the spring f 87 n a file of mine frm th s
Lit seminar taught by writer Ron Hansen on novella
n shared it w Bonnie Nadel
n jan 14
wished could hv shared it w hrc
as had n 2012 whn
placed some several hundred or so mss pgs f workshop drafts materials n other early dfw mss w u tx

(did those ever get catalogued n put out?)

Shorn may b seen
n read as a raspberry @ the Program
jumpng perfectly through their strangely shaped american realistic minimalist short character fiction hoops
while performing n somersault
f deep traced derridean proportions
w n autobio mask concealed
in minutest of details within th twins
one getting haircut n well hewn pov
facing doppleganger n shadows
making faces at th one suffering th bad haircut
frm mom
while da spins wireless dial seeking a music program t play

still a boldly snide lad
chose better thn t include it fr th programs mss that late summer after he’d left
residency in mfa t finish up freely away from th somewhat hostile place

he later found grace
ths too s tru

thanks fr taking good care f hs stuff
hes a doozy f a sad little dude w a big big brain
Who remains w each f us all
fr a long

semper fi


Peter Sloane

This, then, seems to be a first draft, or an early draft, of ‘The Porousness of Certain Borders’?

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