Sunday, September 14, 2008

Alas, Poor David

If you haven't read Infinite Jest, you're missing out on one of the funniest, cleverest, most original and most challenging novels you're likely to ever come across.

Released in 1996, Jest -- along with its non-fiction follow-up, A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again -- didn't make me dream of becoming a writer so much as it made me think that I shouldn't even bother, since I'd never have the kind of talent that David Foster Wallace did.

As a writer and an observer of culture and the human condition, few could touch him -- and he was always worthy of a certain amount of idolatry among those who would try.

I'm forced to say all of this in the past tense because two days ago David Foster Wallace was found dead in his California home. He'd hanged himself.

Only Wallace himself will ever know what was going on inside his head and why it led him to take his own life. But thankfully, his sly musings on the way the larger world thinks and behaves will stay with us.

Their impact will be, literally, infinite.


Zoe said...

I'm crying a little right now.

When I left for college I left every single one of my books behind. I thought the best way to make a new start was to abandon everything I loved and start anew (yeah, I know. I've got most of the melodrama out of my system now). Two days later I gave myself permission to buy one thing: A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again. That book kept me sane during a horrible, horrible year hundreds of miles miles away from my family. Since then, I've bought and saved every article and every book. His voice and his words made the world seem like a better place.

Anonymous said...

It's so sad to hear this news. I have tried so hard to read Infinite Jest. I extended my library check out time twice because I was so determined to finish the book. I just couldn't do it. About half way through I gave up, but I was still amazed at the creativity with which this book was written. And I could never imagine such a complex work of art ever being published again. Wallace will be missed by many.

-Agent Scully

Cory said...

After reading Infinite Jest last summer it sky rocketed to the top of my favorite novels. This behemoth of a book literally becomes part of you while reading. You will find yourself relating the characters or situations to your everyday life. From drugs, to human relationships, entertainment, tennis, math, and Quebecois politics, Wallace covered it all and more with aplomb. He will be missed.

Anonymous said...

infinitely sad
Dfw now infinitely funny
Saw in person at rizzoli wbwy and he signed his book
Think of him as the William Gaddis my pepsi generation

Tabes said...

Such a tragedy. The writers of our time superior to DFW could be counted on one hand at most.