Is 'Art Fair' A Real Book? You Can Read David Lipsky's First Novel As Shown In 'The End Of The Tour'
The End of the Tour tells the story of young reporter David Lipsky, as played by Jesse Eisenberg, who gets the chance to interview his literary idol, David Foster Wallace (Jason Segel). But in the film, David Lipsky isn't just a reporter for Rolling Stone; he's also an author himself, having just published his novel, The Art Fair , before meeting Wallace in 1996. Unfortunately, David's book is nothing close to the critical and commercial success of Wallace's new hit, Infinite Jest, creating an interesting dynamic between the two writers as they embark on a five-day adventure on the tail end of Wallace's book tour. Given Wallace's impact on the literary world, it's easy to identify Infinite Jest as real, but is The Art Fair a real book? As it turns out, yes, yes it is — and it had way more impact on the movie than you might have realized.
The End of the Tour is actually based on a book written by the real-life Lipsky titled Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip With David Foster Wallace. The book was published in 2010, following Wallace's suicide in 2008. Though the film may be based on a true story, it is still, at its heart, a narrative film, and some details are no doubt fictionalized. It would be easy, then, to assume that Lipsky's background as the published but unrecognized author of The Art Fair was created for the film. Lipsky's desire to be able to support himself as an author, and get some public recognition for it, would be a simple way to create dramatic tension before the two characters even meet.
"I met James Ponsoldt, the director, and asked him what he wanted from this role. He said he wanted me to be like a hunter, like a sniper going into this relationship with my own complicated agenda as a journalist posing as a friend, but actually kind of competing," Eisenberg said of playing Lipsky in a video featurette.
In real life, though, Lipsky found significant success as a writer of both fiction and nonfiction. He followed up The Art Fair with a string of short stories, and eventually published a nonfiction book titled Absolutely American: Four Years At Westpoint in 2003. Talking to Time, Lipsky reflected on Although Of Course, saying,
"When I went back and read the book, I noticed how much I yearned to understand what it felt like to get what you wanted: to write a book you knew was good and get back that pleasing cultural grade. But David said a funny thing. He said, 'It'd be very interesting to talk to you in a few years. My own experiences is that that's not so — that the more people think that you're really good, actually the stronger the fear of being a fraud is.' Later I got to see some of those things myself. I've always wished we could have the conversation again from the other side."
It's somewhat bittersweet, then, that perhaps Lipsky's most successful work so far has been Although Of Course You End Up Being Yourself. The book about his relationship with Wallace would not have been written had Lipsky's The Art Fair been as successful as Wallace's Infinite Jest. And, so, maybe we should be glad it wasn't. After all, without that interview, we wouldn't have The End of the Tour.
Images: A24 Films