At his Top Ten blog, J. Peder Zane delves more deeply into the mystery of David Foster Wallace's top ten list:
Now, this is just one interview, but never have any of the novels he mentioned on his list appeared anywhere in the interviews I've read. Nor have I ever heard him praise any books even remotely like those books. He has also, I might add, written long, fawning essays about Dostoevsky and Kafka, and claimed to be a huge John Updike fan --somehow none of these authors made his cut.
DFW's list has the whiff of a PoMo gag to it and it's probably easily dismissed as such. Far more interesting to us (given our well-known indifference to his work) is this nugget in an interview that Zane excerpts:
Donald Barthelme, especially a story called "The Balloon," which is the first story I ever read that made me want to be a writer ...
Which might be the first thing we've ever found to agree with him about - "The Balloon" has always been our favorite Barthelme story, a lovely, luminous thing. If you don't know it, seek it out ... (Actually, we also agree with his stance on irony and only wish he actually incorporated it into his own work.)