Sunday, September 14, 2008

David Foster Wallace: 1962-2008

I complete my CBS post and do a bit of web searching. I'm stunned to find out that David Foster Wallace took his own life a few days ago.

I really admired DFW's writing style--as bizarre and confused as it sometimes was. I borrowed Jack Thunder's copy of Infinite Jest around seven years ago and read it through after several months (probably?) of confusion and perseverance. Lately I've been meaning to reread IJ but I couldn't find a copy of it at Half-Priced Books the last time I looked. I did pick up (what turned out to be) his final work, Oblivion, only to discover that I had read it before--probably a loaner from the library.

However, I am a proud owner of A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, my favorite collection of DFW essays and magazine pieces. I've read and reread it several times and am very confident that I will do so again many times more.

I ran into DFW and his sort of literary step-twin, David Eggers in the early 2000s. I have a fondness for both of these men, not just because we all share an excellent first name, but because they helped interest me again in the pleasures of reading. I was stepping away from my academic past at OSU and committing myself to life at my current job. I hadn't done much reading that didn't involve academic school work in many years. So, Wallace and Eggers reminded me of the varied world of fiction. 

And what fiction it was. Both of these men spun tails of truth, human observation, surreal prose, and footnotes! They seemed inventive and wildly creative. Along with Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves, I was excited by the possibilities of reading fiction again. 

I am saddened that Wallace won't be writing anymore. He had a unique gift. I'll try to enjoy that gift again when I reread his works.

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