DAMN it, David Foster Wallace…

Author David Foster Wallace is dead. The self-effacing, hilarious, bitter genius behind Infinite Jest as well as Girl With Curious Hair and Brief Interviews With Hideous Men hanged himself at his home in Claremont, CA. His wife found his body late last night. He was 46 years old.

Here’s an excerpt of Wallace discussing Infinite Jest and what drove him to write it during an interview with Valerie Stivers in the late 90s. It’s as resonant a statement today as it was then, and far more heartbreaking:

I wanted to do something sad. I think it’s a very sad time in America and it has something to do with entertainment. It’s not TV’s fault, It’s not [Hollywood’s] fault and it’s not the Net’s fault. It’s our fault. We’re choosing this. We are choosing to spend more time sneering at hype machines, [while still] being enmeshed in them, than we are living.

[My] secret pretension…I mean, every writer wants his book to change the world, but I guess I would like to know if the book moved people. I assume that the future the book talks about, while it might be amusing, wouldn’t be a fun future to live in. I think it would be nice if the book could maybe make people think about some of the choices we are making, about what we pay attention to and give power to, so maybe the future won’t be quite that…glittery but cold.

Mission accomplished, man. Wish you could’ve stuck around. The future still needed your help.

11 Responses to “DAMN it, David Foster Wallace…”

  1. Blacktoad Says:

    Damn! I really liked his work – esp the stories in girl with curious hair. Why is it that DFW is gone and yet JKR is still fucking with us?

  2. Ben Morris Says:

    Fuck, fuck, fuck. I find myself extremely angry at this news. Wallace was one of my favorite living authors; his essays, short stories and novels were all great. When Hunter Thompson (another favorite writer of mine) killed himself I didn’t feel anything near this level of lament as he had left a huge body of work behind him, while DFW seemed to have so much left to write, and was such a perfect commentator on our times. Fuck. Infinite Jest is probably my favorite novel published in the last 15 to 20 years or so. I really don’t know what to say but fucking damnit! Fuck. I am becoming somewhat incoherent in sadness and anger so I’ll stop here.

  3. Ed Autumn Says:

    NO!!!!!! Damn, why do all the good ones leave but all the lame ones stick around? Maybe they’re hinting to us….

    But still!! Requiescat in pace.

  4. Skerror Says:

    This really fucking sucked. He was one of my favorites. His work was really luminant. I’m going to miss following him and that epic vocabulary he had through his massive writings and labyrinthine footnotes. I especially loved his essays…the one on Roger Federer, the cruise ship, David Lynch…dammit, I really didn’t think his curiosity and energy would ever burn out. He’ll be missed for sure.

  5. Tequila Says:

    Can’t say I was as much a fan as others here but this still sucks to hear nonetheless. He’s one of those writers you take advantage of in thinking they will always be around and die natural deaths with an unfinished manuscript on their desk. The good ones go too fast and the lame ones…stick around to write enough awful books that you can build a small fort from first editions alone.

    No doubt he’ll be missed…on many many levels.

  6. Mark Says:

    Fuck’s sake.

    I had really high hopes for DFW continuing to evolve into his later years, eventually taking up his rightful place as a kind of JG Ballard for the desperate, rather than the disgusted, generation.


    RIP man.

  7. Ben Morris Says:

    A quote from Infinite Jest that seems appropriate:

    The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill herself doesn’t do so out of quote ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life’s assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom Its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It’s not desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flames. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling ‘Don’t!’ and ‘Hang on!’, can understand the jump. Not really. You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling.

  8. joshua Says:

    kudos. good one, mer.

    …and that’s a pretty fantastic quote, ben.

  9. joshua Says:

    and yeah, this one hit me pretty damn hard.

  10. Mer Says:

    I hear you, friends. I’m gutted by this one.

  11. Meagan Says:

    This still hurts, wish he could have stuck around longer, written some more, had some good times and spent time with his dogs :(