Sunday, March 1, 2009

David Foster Wallace

I had been in Berlin nearly two weeks when I heard that David Foster Wallace committed suicide at his home in Claremont. I never met him, but his celebrity-status at Pomona College combined with his well-known perennial depression had me intrigued by his persona. A successful writer struggling to, and seemingly succeeding at, getting his shit together. Now you go back and read his stories, analyze his behavior, and it just seems inevitable.

Another of his stories was published in the New Yorker this week, a story about an office droid struggling with boredom and against insanity. They've been publishing lots of his pieces in the months since he died and the depression is palpable in them. It's like going back and listening to Elliot Smith.

I just found this article in Rolling Stone , in which my friend Bennett was quoted:
In early May, at the end of the school year, he sat down with some graduating seniors from his fiction class at a nearby cafe. Wallace answered their jittery writer's-future questions. "He got choked up at the end," recalls Bennett Sims, one of his students. "He started to tell us how much he would miss us, and he began to cry. And because I had never seen Dave cry, I thought he was just joking. Then, awfully, he sniffled and said, 'Go ahead and laugh — here I am crying — but I really am going to miss all of you.' "

"This was not an ending anyone would have wanted for him, but it was the ending he chose."

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