Saturday, September 13, 2008

David Foster Wallace, 1962-2008

The late 90's were heady days. Like a lot of young collegians I discovered writers--like Dave Eggers, Chuck Palahniuk, and, of course, David Foster Wallace--who made me understand for the first time what it meant to be ironic, to write in a post-modern vein, to trample on conventional ideas of voice and linearity. When I was 17 I read On the Road and Catcher in the Rye, and thought, so what? When I was 18 I read Broom of the System, and wasn't sure if I liked what I was reading, but "so what? was the furthest thing from my mind. Self-reference, meta-narrative, ironic dissociation, and footnotes are hallmarks of Wallace's work, but perhaps the one lesson I took from him--the one lesson I took to heart--is that you can be prolix and intellectual and at the same time luxuriate in the word "fuck" in its myriad non-sexual forms. (E.g., "[T]he rhetoric of the enterprise is fucked.") Faithful readers of this blog know I have made a habit of this classic tendency of Wallace's.

Now I never finished Infinite Jest (and yes, blog reader, Owen, one day I will return your copy), I sort of hated Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, but, you, David Foster Wallace could write the fuck out of an essay. (See below.)

Today you hanged yourself, and though I don't know what drives a man to that, I hope you have found peace.

(Here's an interview of DFW that The Believer did and here's his absolutely iconic piece on the now-unrecognizable next President of our country.)

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