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Essays On Stories

We started the week expecting to publish one David Foster Wallace post. Then, because of the 50th birthday celebration, it turned into two. And now three. We spent some time tracking down free DFW stories and essays available on the web, and they're all now listed in our collection, 800 Free eBooks for iPad, Kindle & Other Devices. But we didn't want them to escape your attention. So here they are -- 23 pieces published by David Foster Wallace between 1989 and 2011, mostly in major U.S. publications like The New Yorker, Harper's, The Atlantic, and The Paris Review. Enjoy, and don't miss our other collections of free writings by Philip K. Dick and Neil Gaiman.

  • "9/11: The View From the Midwest" (Rolling Stone, October 25, 2001)
  • "All That" (New Yorker, December 14, 2009)
  • "An Interval" (New Yorker, January 30, 1995)
  • "Asset" (New Yorker, January 30, 1995)
  • "Backbone" An Excerpt from The Pale King (New Yorker, March 7, 2011)
  • "Big Red Son" from Consider the Lobster & Other Essays
  • "Brief Interviews with Hideous Men" (The Paris Review, Fall 1997)
  • "Consider the Lobster" (Gourmet, August 2004)
  • "David Lynch Keeps His Head" (Premiere, 1996)
  • "Everything is Green" (Harpers, September 1989)
  • "E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction" (The Review of Contemporary Fiction, June 22, 1993)
  • "Federer as Religious Experience" (New York Times, August 20, 2006)
  • "Good People" (New Yorker, February 5, 2007)
  • "Host" (The Atlantic, April 2005)
  • "Incarnations of Burned Children" (Esquire, April 21, 2009)
  • "Laughing with Kafka" (Harper's, January 1998)
  • "Little Expressionless Animals" (The Paris Review, Spring 1988)
  • "On Life and Work" (Kenyon College Commencement address, 2005)
  • "Order and Flux in Northampton" Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV(Conjunctions, 1991)
  • "Rabbit Resurrected" (Harper's, August 1992)
  • "Several Birds" (New Yorker, June 17, 1994)
  • "Shipping Out: On the (nearly lethal) comforts of a luxury cruise" (Harper's, January 1996)
  • "Tennis, trigonometry, tornadoes A Midwestern boyhood"  (Harper's, December 1991)
  • "Tense Present: Democracy, English, and the wars over usage" (Harper's, April 2001)
  • "The Awakening of My Interest in Annular Systems" (Harper's, September 1993)
  • "The Compliance Branch" (Harper's, February 2008)
  • "The Depressed Person" (Harper's, January 1998)
  • "The String Theory" (Esquire, July 1996)
  • "The Weasel, Twelve Monkeys And The Shrub" (Rolling Stone, April 2000)
  • "Ticket to the Fair" (Harper's, July 1994)
  • "Wiggle Room" (New Yorker, March 9, 2009)

Related Content:

Free Philip K. Dick: Download 13 Great Science Fiction Stories

Neil Gaiman’s Free Short Stories

Read 17 Short Stories From Nobel Prize-Winning Writer Alice Munro Free Online

10 Free Stories by George Saunders, Author of Tenth of December, “The Best Book You’ll Read This Year”


The government has announced a crackdown on “essay mill” websites that sell written-to-order essays.

Plan to crack down on websites selling essays to students announced

Tens of thousands of students are believed to have bought essays online and submitted them to university tutors, a practice known as “contract plagiarism”.

Last week Jo Johnson, the universities minister, called for new guidance to be issued for the next academic year, including tough penalties for students who buy essays and strong warnings about the consequences.

We asked readers who have used, written or marked these essays, or know anyone who has, to tell us about their experiences. Here’s a selection of the responses.

The writer: I try not to think about how students use my work

I’ve been a writer for so-called essay-mill websites for many years.

Back when I was at university, people joked about using these sites but I didn’t know anyone who actually paid for such a service. After leaving university I got into freelance writing. One day I came across an advert for an essay-writing service that was recruiting. I applied and with a good degree and a master’s I was accepted. After I realised how easy it was (and how much better paid it was compared with other freelance work) I started applying to more companies. Now I work for a few different companies, writing roughly an essay a week. I do everything from short thousand-word pieces to full dissertations.

I try not to think about how students use my work. On all the websites I write for, there’s a disclaimer saying that the essays are not to be submitted by students. This is ignored. It helps that I work in the humanities, so the consequences of a student not being able to show their supposed knowledge are not likely to be severe. In fields where there could be serious ramifications, it’s much more of a moral conundrum for everyone involved.

Some students quite blatantly use these sites to cheat: to the point where I’ve been given dissertation feedback from a tutor and made changes accordingly. I’ve even got messages from pleased students who were happy to pass their course thanks to my help. It seems strange.
Brian, 29, Wales

The user: I felt quite guilty when I got my results

I used an essay-mill website once in my second year at university. I regret it now as I felt quite guilty about it when I got my results. It cost about £400 for a 2,000-word essay. The reason I used the site was because I didn’t understand the module, although I must admit I was partly to blame for that as I didn’t engage in lectures. The tutor didn’t really engage individually with students. The site emphasised doing your own research to gain understanding. Another factor was that I was up to my neck in essays and working commitments and only had a couple of days to produce an essay. If I had prioritised that particular essay, which I didn’t have enough knowledge in, I would have jeopardised the quality of my other essays.

These websites are pretty widespread. What I have noticed is that wealthier students coming from abroad tend to use them more. One student told me in his first year he used this site various times for many essays just because he could afford it and he “couldn’t be bothered” to do the work.
Dan, 24, London

The lecturer: In scientific subjects, it’s obvious

I am a lecturer and I’ve seen PhD students use these websites. International students are not taught to write essays in the way that most UK students are, so plagiarism is rife. It’s not enough to tell them not to plagiarise when they don’t fully understand what this means; and even if they do, they are not able to stop doing it. They write the key points that they want to say, and then send it to an essay-writing service to rewrite it for them. It’s obvious to the academic reading the work when this has been done. The essay-writing service doesn’t have a proper grasp of the scientific concepts, so the work makes no sense.
Sarah, 37, south-west England

The coder: It’s not just essays. There are websites that write code

It’s not just the essay mills that need observing here. These websites and individuals also offer to write code and do the write-ups for a fee. I used to hang around with a few students who weren’t short of a few pounds, and they’d get another person to write code/re-factor their own submission and do the write-up for them. The plagiarism-detection software doesn’t work well for code since so much can be quickly changed to make it look incredibly different.

Everyone knew of people offering to write a program for you. It was mainly students further along the course who had been asked to write the same code before.

I asked another student in the year above to see their submission once to get an idea of what the lecturer wanted. I just ran the program to get an idea, I didn’t look at code. The lecturer was being incredibly vague and didn’t have a lot of time for us, so I felt forced. But other students used them because they fell behind in lectures and didn’t have the background knowledge to continue at that level.
Andrew, 29, Midlands

The friend: The bought essays got very low marks

I haven’t used one of these sites but a friend did. We were on a challenging course and many members of our small class struggled. One student in particular was deemed to be asking too many questions of lecturers and was only receiving limited help. That’s why they resorted to using essay-mill websites.

Due to the course being highly technical (involving technologies that are rapidly evolving) the essays often contained incorrect information. It was either because the writer didn’t understand the course or used out-of-date information. The student in our class that used these sites fell foul of the latter – recycled outdated information – and got very low marks.
Lucien, 22, south-east England

The writer and user: Laziness is the main factor

I’ve both used and worked for essay-mill websites. When I worked for essay-mill websites it was to make some extra money. I found the work to be both easy and interesting. (I read and wrote about a wide range of topics related to my degree and master’s that I am interested in.) I probably wrote too well for some clients, especially those who didn’t have English as their first language. I think it would have been quite obvious to a tutor that they may not have written the piece of work.

Students use these sites for a number of reasons. It is laziness, lack of time, as a jump-off point to write an essay (eg by using the list of references to help kickstart their own work). Laziness is probably the main factor though. If you can pay someone £100 to get you a guaranteed 2:1, which means you can go out and party all weekend, then there are lots of people who will happily do so.

I bought an essay for this exact purpose (the only time I have ever bought an essay) and it was probably the worst piece of writing I have ever seen. It was not written by a native speaker, had almost no relevant information or references in it and was useless as a piece of work. I contacted the company to try to get a refund for my order (their website offers no-questions-asked refunds) and have been completely ignored. I won’t buy an essay ever again. Some people use them as aids to improve their writing. Or point them in the direction of useful authors, journals, sources of information etc.

Ed, 36 , London

  • Some names have been changed

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