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David Foster Wallace: RIP

Posted by anandrr on September 14, 2008

I was going to be irreverent and cynical about something today, but surfing around just before I started to post showed me the shocking news of the day: David Foster Wallace hanged himself in LA yesterday. Talk about the death of irony.

DFW was probably the best “young” writer in the business. I read Infinite Jest sometime in 2002 (and inadvertently joined the Bookcrossing club when I left it behind on the Caltrain), and I was hooked. Since then I’ve read a couple more of his books and I can only hope that some day I learn to be as inventive a writer as he, and as consistently able to suck in humongous quantities of information about entirely diverse topics (Tennis, Maths, Politics, Food…) and yet be able to write/talk about them very intelligently. Bill Clinton seems to do it, DFW did it, and then there’s the rest of us aspirers. Finally, very few writers are able to convert their writing into a performance to be enjoyed for its own sake, DFW could do it every time.

It is unfortunate that DFW will never write again, on the other hand I have now been reminded that there are at least 3 more DFWs to read, and if all else fails I can always spend a few months re-savouring Infinite Jest.

UPDATE: And Harper’s has a whole list of everything he wrote for them. And so did Rolling Stone. And The Atlantic Monthly was just waiting to be asked. Enough to read for the rest of the week.

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