Tuesday, September 16, 2008

R.I.P. David Foster Wallace

I was deeply saddened to learn that author and teacher David Foster Wallace had taken his own life. He had a unique way of looking at the world, and it's depressing to think that I'll never see something through his eyes again. It's sad when anyone leaves us before their time. But when they're someone who actually managed to communicate their unique way of looking at the world to others, the loss of that voice is a tragedy.

He wrote some terrific non-fiction pieces, and his collections A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, Brief Interviews With Hideous Men, and Consider the Lobster are well worth a look. When he took on politics, you got the fervor and anger of a Raoul Duke combined with the vocabulary of Gore Vidal.

But like many, when I think of David Foster Wallace, I think of The Infinite Jest. People loved to take potshots at Jest, and goodness knows, I've taken a few myself: huge, sprawling, confusing, disjointed, self-indulgent. The thing is, all of that stuff is true--it is all of that and more. But it's also sharp, funny, satirical, intricate, and worth every hour I spent negotiating its 1104 pages. I've been thinking of a re-read for awhile; maybe now's the time.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Put On A Happy Face

Hello there, nice people. It has been brought to my attention (in no uncertain terms) that I have been neglecting our conversation. It's true. I have gone silent as of late. But it's not you; it's me.

You see, back in April, I was laid off from my job at Book People. 13 years of doing something I truly loved down the tubes. It hurt. Heck, it still hurts. And when I hurt, I withdraw to lick my wounds. Not the most sociable reaction, I admit, but at least I'm consistent.

So now that I'm ready to rejoin the living, I'd like to take a moment to thank those who've gone out of their way to brighten a very dark 6 months: my cousin, who invited me to help her move back to Florida and let me pretend that I was on vacation rather than out of work; Jeff and Ann VanderMeer, who offered us their generous hospitality on our trip; Rick and Brandy, who always know exactly what to say; Don, Lynne, and Michelle, who've become a second family; my book group, who are well worth that drive to Austin; Karen, in the midst of a tough time herself, who always has time for me, Jim R., a former colleague and generous friend; Joe Domenici, another former colleague (and first-time author) who's made a point to stay in touch; and Scott C., who refused to let me blow off this conversation any longer. I've gotten a lot of good wishes and encouraging words, but these folks really have gone above and beyond.

So why poke my head out now, you ask? Firstly, it's time--one can only hide in a cave for so long. Secondly, I am once again gainfully employed. It's not much to start, but there's a future, and it's a future that will let me stay in Kenedy. For the first time in almost 20 years my job will not involve books, which is a little scary. But I have to say, I've printed and sent out a lot of resumes, clicked and filled out numerous online applications, and gone on "you're overqualified" interview after "you're overqualified" interview, and it was a relief simply to sit in an interview with someone who was genuinely excited to talk to me, and who seemed to believe that I might have something to contribute, overqualified or not.

So here we are again, you and I, beginning another dance. Thank you for being my partner, and I'll try not to step on your toes too often.