RIP DFW

Posted by – September 17, 2008

The thing about being away is that you miss a lot of important news, like Ike and poor Gilchrist, TX; or the fact that Palin dropped 10 approval points over the weekend, or, most sadly, that novelist David Foster Wallace committed suicide this past weekend.

I was never a huge fan of his work, with the exception of Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, and of course – like every other writer alive – I was jealous of how much attention he got. The first piece I read by him was in Harper’s, and it was about cruises, and I found the endless footnoting drove me nuts, BUT – and this is a big but – his style broke through certain dull trends in novel-writing that I couldn’t bear even more. Every once in a while someone tells me that they think the footnotes of She’s Not the Man I Married is the best part of the book, and I’ve always described them jokingly as my attempt at being the David Foster Wallace of the gender set.

I’m stunned, about as stunned when I learned that another master & experimental stylist, Spalding Gray, also committed suicide. It’s a worry for people like me – prone to depression, only happy – you might even say alive – when writing. I have an old writer friend who used to ask me all the time, when we were taking writing workshops at CCNY together, whether I would choose writing or happiness, if I chose one or the other. I always said happiness.

& David Foster Wallace reminded me tonight why.

RIP, and the deepest condolences to his wife and sister.

2 Comments on RIP DFW

  1. Jude says:

    An interesting look back to a 2005 graduation speech by DFW; http://www.marginalia.org/dfw_.....ement.html , courtesy of my friend Colin: http://blogs.courant.com/colin.....thing.html – sort of ironic in the sense that somehow perhaps he lost his own advice…..

    And I think I was one of the “chuckling at the footnotes” fans of SNTMIM….

  2. i am glad you answered the happiness question the way you did Helen. RIP to a writer who left you writers and mavens with so much. You will carry on his legacy no doubt. Key word – carry on as in stick around the planet..

    suicides are always so hard..on those left behind..i still get teary when i thnk about the folk singer Phil Ochs. And Abby Hoffman..not to mention so many others. Lord have mercy Depression Kills.

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