David Foster Wallace

I was saddened to learn late last night that David Foster Wallace was found dead in his home.  Apparently he hung himself.  Wallace was an incredibly experimental and exciting author to read, and his exuberant and fearless style heavily influenced my writing when I first decided to become a writer.  Though I never finished Infinite Jest (not many have), Oblivion was one of my favorite short story collections of all time, along with Brief Interviews with Hideous Men.  And for non-fiction, few paralleled his skill.  Consider the Lobster is the best collection of essays I have read in a long, long time.

I once thumbed through a copy of his Everything and More at the Strand Bookstore and I recall reading a passage where he talks about hyper-intelligent minds often destroying themselves because the world defies their attempts to quantize reality into logical frameworks.  There is no doubt in my mind that David Wallace was brilliant, almost too smart.  With all the pressure put upon him after his rise to literary celebrity, I wonder if the pressue to continually top himself broke him down.  If your debut novel is 1100 pages, a magnum opus that skyrockets you to the forefront of literary circles, how do you top that?  But Wallace did, over and over again.  With each new collection, I was continually amazed at the literary feats he was capable of.  But I also sensed in his work a deep loneliness, a mind so smart and so different from the norm that he often found himself at the top of a mountain, looking down.  It must have been a fantastic view, but what good is that if you can’t share?  He tried though.  His work cried out of a soul trying deeply to convey his sense of the universe.  And what a sense it was.

It’s a true tragedy that the world has lost such a talented soul.  David Foster Wallace, we will miss you.