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.