Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

David Foster Wallace & Me, Warts and All

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I’ll admit, I’m still a little shaken up over the news of David Foster Wallace’s suicide, and it’s caused me to go back through my archives looking at the last few years of DFW posts.

* An early post looking forward to Oblivion, followed by my review of it, which was more dedicated to the whole parody-footnotes routine than I’ve ever been, before or since1.

* My review of Everything and More, his brief history of infinity, which Cosmic Variance points out contains some evocative footnotes in light of his death.

* My review of Consider the Lobster, a review I’d now characterize as “frustrated with the slow pace of his writing.” Another barb at the lack-of-timeliness of his McCain book. And I wasn’t especially happy with the introduction to his Best American Essays collection, either, nor of the last story of his I read, from the New Yorker.

It’s hard to think of another writer that I liked so much by whom I was so often disappointed. I don’t quite know what to make of this fact yet. And understanding his suicide as a literary act—the only register in which I have access to it, having never met him—it’s hard not to think of it as the final disappointment, the final shutting of the door, the final, declarative proof that I will never get the work from him I thought I wanted.

* David Foster Wallace vs. Proust.

* David Foster Wallace, Zadie Smith, Jonathan Franzen, Jeffrey Eugenides, and some other guy met on the Isle of Capri to talk about language and identity.

* David Foster Wallace on a desert island.

* Interview with The Office’s John Krasinki about the film he’s made of Brief Interviews with Hideous Men.

* n+1 wonders to what extent a follow-up to Infinite Jest is was would have even possible.

* When DFW tried to read one of his books aloud for the audiobook.

* Just an interview. But a good one.

* ‘Federer as Religion Experience.’ Say what you will, the man loved tennis.

* David Foster Wallace Visits the Adult Video News Awards.

* The Kenyon College speech I linked to yesterday.

* True story. As an undergraduate, my friend took a creative writing course from David Foster Wallace at Illinois State University. On the first assignment he turned in, Wallace wrote, “I swear to God if you ever turn in a piece of shit like this to me again I will flunk your ass. I shit you not.” The meaning of this anecdote is open to interpretation, but to me it suggests several things about Wallace’s way of relating to others.

* And I’ve had this Kottke post bookmarked forever for my long-planned second trip through Infinite Jest. Having lost my way through it the first time, I’ll still reread it—but not, I’m afraid, as the reader I was the first time.

1 or likely ever will be again

Written by gerrycanavan

September 14, 2008 at 3:27 pm

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