String Theory Book Summary - String Theory Book explained in key points
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String Theory summary

David Foster Wallace

On Tennis

3.7 (68 ratings)
13 mins

Brief summary

String Theory by David Foster Wallace discusses the nature of mathematics, physics, philosophy and reality itself. It explores the concept of "string theory" which strives to unite all laws of physics under a single entity. It is a challenging but intellectually stimulating read.

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    String Theory
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    David Foster Wallace served up more than fine prose.

    David Foster Wallace is known as one of the most talented authors in modern American fiction. But his career could have easily gone another way. Wallace actually started out as a competitively ranked junior tennis player. The other kids even gave him a nickname, Slug, as a sort of backhanded compliment. He was lazy and slow, but, somehow, he still smashed his opponents.

    Wallace explains that he used the microclimate to his advantage. He grew up in Philo, Illinois, deep in the midwest, where it’s even windier than Chicago, famed throughout the world as “The Windy City.” Wallace learned not to fight the winds when he played. Instead, he harnessed their power.

    And it wasn’t just in tennis that he used the winds. Wallace liked to ride his pushbike around town, tacking across the wind by using an outstretched, book-laden arm as a sail. Needless to say, the rest of the town thought he was crazy.

    He applied this atmospheric expertise to his game on the court. The other kids were, without a doubt, stronger and more technically proficient than he was. They could fire shots off into the corners. But Wallace adopted a different strategy. He lobbed high, slow and straight, letting the wind wreak havoc.

    Wallace had another slippery trick up his sleeve. He sweated. Profusely. Although inordinate perspiration isn’t usually regarded as a talent in day-to-day life, it worked wonders for Wallace on the tennis court. By the end of play in the clammy Illinois summer, Wallace wouldn’t be the prettiest sight – but, with enough water and salty snacks, he could play on and on.

    His slicked and preppy opponents, on the other hand, would soon begin to wilt in the heat, sometimes even passing out. Wallace called himself “a physical savant, a medicine boy of wind and heat, [who] could play just forever.”

    That's quite some racket.

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    What is String Theory about?

    String Theory (2016) is a collection of essays about tennis by David Foster Wallace. The best players in the world sacrifice their lives so that they can entertain us, but their sacrifice elevates them to a level of greatness that the rest of us lowly mortals will never achieve.

    String Theory Review

    String Theory (2015) by David Foster Wallace explores the intricacies of language, communication, and the human experience. Here are three reasons why this book is a captivating read:

    • Delving into philosophical and linguistic theories, it provides a thought-provoking exploration of how language shapes our perception of reality.
    • Wallace's depth of research and analysis makes this book a valuable resource for anyone interested in the complexities of communication and the nature of meaning.
    • By weaving together personal anecdotes, literary references, and scholarly insights, it offers a unique blend of intellectual rigor and storytelling.

    Who should read String Theory?

    • Tennis players who wonder if there is really such a gap between them and the best players
    • Sports enthusiasts who are looking for an incisive analysis of what makes a great athlete
    • David Foster Wallace fans who want to see another side of his brilliant mind

    About the Author

    David Foster Wallace was an American novelist, essayist and short story writer. In his youth, he played high-level competitive tennis.

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    String Theory FAQs 

    What is the main message of String Theory?

    The main message of String Theory is the exploration of life's complexities and the search for meaning.

    How long does it take to read String Theory?

    The reading time for String Theory varies depending on the reader's pace. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is String Theory a good book? Is it worth reading?

    String Theory is an intriguing and thought-provoking read that delves into deep philosophical concepts. A must-read for those seeking intellectual stimulation.

    Who is the author of String Theory?

    The author of String Theory is David Foster Wallace.

    What to read after String Theory?

    If you're wondering what to read next after String Theory, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • The Inner Game of Tennis by W. Timothy Gallwey
    • Open by Andre Agassi
    • Unstoppable by Maria Sharapova
    • The Mindful Athlete by George Mumford
    • American Prometheus by Kai Bird & Martin J Sherwin
    • Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari
    • Atomic Habits by James Clear
    • Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss and Tahl Raz
    • The 5 AM Club by Robin Sharma
    • Will It Make the Boat Go Faster? by Ben Hunt-Davis and Harriet Beveridge