Sunday, September 14, 2008


David Foster Wallace (1) was found dead (2) in Los Angeles, California (3) in an apparent suicide. (4). A shining light of his generation, often linked to Pynchon and DeLillo for his pyrotechnics and post-post-modern sensibility, he was best known for Infinite Jest (5) and a mock-academic style that often included numerous footnotes and endnotes.(6)

[Wallace] "used his prodigious gifts as a writer — his manic, exuberant prose; his ferocious powers of observation, his ability to fuse avant garde techniques with old-fashioned moral seriousness — to create a series of strobe-lit portraits of a millennial America overdosing on the drugs of entertainment and self-gratification, and to capture, in the words of the musician Robert Plant, the myriad 'deep and meaningless' facets of contemporary life." (7)

"Wallace is to literature what Robin Williams or perhaps Jim Carrey is to live comedy: a creator so maniacally energetic and amused with himself that he often follows his riffs out into the stratosphere, where he orbits all alone." (8)

LA Times book editor David Ulin was in New York City for a National Book Critics Circle Board meeting Saturday. "What was a party is now a wake," David Ulin said as the news of Wallace's death circulated. "People were speechless and just blown away."(9)

1) American novelist, essayist, and short story writer (February 21, 1962-September 12, 2008)
2) He was discovered by his wife
3) Actually, he was found at his home Claremont, California, according to Jackie Morales of the Claremont Police. Morales is a records clerk and received the call from Wallace's wife at 9:30 PM, Friday evening
4) Wallace apparently hanged himself
5) published in 1996, Infinite Jest is a sprawling, non-linear, post-modern novel loosely based on Wallace's own youth as a talented tennis player
6) Infinite Jest includes over 400 endnotes, some a dozen pages long
7) Michiko Kakutani, New York Times, September 14th, 2008
8) Frank Bruni, n a 1996 profile in the New York Times Magazine
9) Los Angeles Times, September 14th, 2008


Anonymous said...

it was very sad to hear the news--I was a big fan of his work.

Bob Rini said...

It was tragic that Wallace ended his life. Suicide is very high in some high-stress professions, among combat vets, and among teenagers.

Get help if you need it. There are professionals available out there. Don't think you have to be macho and "tough it out" if you feel overwhelmed by depression.

Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.