I just randomly came across a piece in NY Times that seemed to be an obituary for David Foster Wallace. I didn’t understand how this could be, as he was still a young (relatively speaking) author full of potential. I was saddened to discover that he had hanged himself 2 days ago.
I had just picked up a book of his in the library, Oblivion, a collection of short stories published in 2004. I stopped reading it after a couple of stories because the author seemed disconnected from his subjects and just a little too clever for his own good. But I had loved Infinite Jest when I read it in my senior year of high school. It is a postmodern tour de force: indulgent, discursive, wordy, subversive, parodic, witty, and just plain intelligent and well-written fun.
I also loved his collection of essays and articles in A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, most especially the one on his acerbic take on the culture of cruise ships. David Foster Wallace (it seems impossible to state just his last name) possessed an intelligence and irony so penetrating that it seemed almost to turn in on itself, wrapping his writing in a blanket of disassociative tangents and footnotes that were all the more entertaining for their self-conscious stylization, ridiculousness, and biting wit.
It is truly a loss to the literary world that he chose to take his own life rather than stoop down to bestow the rest of us with another work of cynical genius. We will cherish Infinite Jest all the more for its singular—now, tragic—majesty.