“the ninth guy on the bench”
From a footnote in John Jeremiah Sullivan’s GQ review of David Foster Wallace’s forthcomign The Pale King,
Early in 2008, GQ asked him to write about Obama’s speeches or, more largely, about American political rhetoric. It was still a somewhat gassy idea as presented to him, but Wallace saw the possibilities, so we started making inquiries to the Obama campaign, and even made reservations for him to be in Denver during the convention. Our thought was to get him as close to the head speechwriters (and so as close to Obama) as possible. But Wallace said, very politely, that this wasn’t what interested him. He wanted to be with a worker bee on the speechwriting team—to find out how the language was used by, as he put it, “the ninth guy on the bench.” It also seemed like maybe a temperament thing, that he would be more comfortable reporting away from the glare.
More, I’m sure, to come on The Pale King. Going to walk across the street now to Waterstones and check if they have any in stock yet….