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.

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