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Monday, September 15, 2008

Finite Jest

posted by on September 15 at 13:58 PM

This week’s Constant Reader is online right now, a few days before the print edition. It’s about David Foster Wallace.

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Well look at you, Mr. Overachiever! Don't make a habit of this, or the other writers might poison your Ragu.

Posted by mojo mojito | September 15, 2008 2:12 PM

So true, Paul. I don't know that I can even watch Jeopardy again without thinking of Wallace much less read his work and not try to crack the code of his suicide. He was a great writer, and I'm sure his death will further cement that, as pop culture whores scramble to read him now that he is no longer with us.

Posted by Brian | September 15, 2008 2:21 PM


If you are a gat man Who recently took a trip all around the country ND WY FL CO
and lost your camera at Qwest field during the WSU/OSU Game or the Raiders Preseason game i found it and turned it in to the lost and found at the stadium.

You were wearing a Michigan State shirt in many photos

Posted by Daniel | September 15, 2008 2:29 PM

The thing is that there's not a whole lot of decoding to do in re-reading his writing. It was often warm- and open-hearted, yes, but almost all of it was also part of a large catalog of all the different and similar kinds of sadness, too.

(and hey -- articles have their own comments sections now?)

Posted by josh | September 15, 2008 2:36 PM

Wow. I just read the article. It's good. But it's exactly two sentences long, not counting the footnote. Could this--

It seems so goddamnably appropriate that the big and salacious rumor at the Genius Awards party* this past Saturday night was about David Foster Wallace (or, actually, to be more exact, conversation wasn’t about David Foster Wallace at all but his suicide, and that might be the most awful truth of all this: Wallace has, by his own hand, performed that by-now-familiar weird alchemy—think Hunter S. Thompson, think Ernest Hemingway, think Spalding Gray—to suddenly transform the mammoth, endlessly bounteous fields of his imagination into A Finite Collection of Books Written by a Suicide, and it is from now until forever impossible to read his writing without trying to turn it into some sort of a coded suicide note written years in advance) because among that gorgeous and dwindling herd of people who care about American Literature, 9 out of 10 of those people would assuredly last week have listed Wallace as one of the top three Living Geniuses in American Literature Right Now (and among those Geniuses, Wallace was the youngest one with a big body of work to direct people’s attention to, and was also the producer of some of the most accessible work of any of those authors on that rarefied list—Infinite Jest truly will stand forever, but so will his astonishing first novel, The Broom of the System, which, to prove that God doesn’t exist, was cruelly and unjustly out of print for almost a decade, and his short stories, from the exuberant and hopeful “Forever Overhead” tucked into the beginning of Brief Interviews with Hideous Men to the hideous beauty of the American political system laid bare in “Lyndon” and the breathless 20th-century tall tale of “Little Expressionless Animals”—which vague, questing customers in bookstores always refer to as “That Story by David Foster Wallace About the Jeopardy! Champion”—in Girl with Curious Hair, and also his essays, about freedom, about proper language, about the history of infinity, about cruise ships and one particularly important essay about John McCain that every American should be required by law to read before November 4).
--perhaps be the longest single sentence in Stranger history?
Posted by Matt Fuckin' Hickey | September 15, 2008 2:54 PM

You should have used footnotes instead of parentheses for maximal mimicry. Also, more sentences beginning with "and but so". What a loss.

Posted by F | September 15, 2008 3:09 PM

For his writing as suicide note, I remember a passage in Infinite Jest where he talked about a couple (I think it was a couple, it's been a few years since I read it) who both had depression, and how every day for them was miserable, and every night they went to bed after a miserable day and knew they would wake up to another miserable day. And one character said it was the most heroic thing, how they went on doing that, day in and day out, without killing themselves.

Posted by Lark Hawk | September 15, 2008 3:44 PM

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