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The lost years and last days of David Foster Wallace

A superb (and very sad) bit of journalism from Rolling Stone.

His life was a map that ends at the wrong destination. Wallace was an A student through high school, he played football, he played tennis, he wrote a philosophy thesis and a novel before he graduated from Amherst, he went to writing school, published the novel, made a city of squalling, bruising, kneecapping editors and writers fall moony-eyed in love with him. He published a thousand-page novel, received the only award you get in the nation for being a genius, wrote essays providing the best feel anywhere of what it means to be alive in the contemporary world, accepted a special chair at California’s Pomona College to teach writing, married, published another book and, last month, hanged himself at age 46.

7 replies on “The lost years and last days of David Foster Wallace”

To be honest, I don’t think I’d even heard of him. (i mustn’t have noticed the links previously)

Reading that, in the current context, made me well up a bit.

It’s one of my favourite texts, and pops into my head quite a lot.

He didn’t have the same impact over here as he did in the US, although I don’t know why.

I never finished Infinite Jest – it’s not an easy read – but I’ve loved a lot of his essays. Harper’s magazine has put a few of them up here (all PDFs):

http://harpers.org/archive/2008/09/hbc-90003557

I’d recommend “Shipping Out”. It’s great. And very long. If you hate it, you’ll probably have everything else he does :)

I linked to another one of his a while back, a trip to the Adult Video Awards (written under a pseudonym for Premiere), but the site’s currently down.

Fancy a shorter intro? This is about movie FX “porn”:
http://www.smallbytes.net/~bobkat/waterstone.html

“T2” is thus also the first and best instance of a paradoxical law that appears to hold true for the entire F/X Porn genre. It is called the Inverse Cost and Quality Law, and it states very simply that the larger a movie’s budget is, the shittier that movie is going to be.

As ever with DFW, half of the fun is in the footnotes.

Yeah, you have linked to that one before, and it is excellent.

The bit I always remember is this:

[responding here to loud applause] (this is an example of how NOT to think, though)

He gives that incredible speech, and there in the middle of it is glaring evidence that it went right over the heads of his entire audience.

I noticed that too. Funny at first but then really sad. I know that he had some kind of chronic depression that seems to have eventually claimed him, but reading that in hindsight it’s almost like, how many times can you try so, so hard to make yourself understood, and fail, but still carry on?

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