"Things that interfere with writing well: Earning a living, especially by teaching."

-William H. Gass

Sunday, September 14, 2008

peace out

Of the approximately 200 million Americans with more foreign policy experience than Sarah Palin, one of my personal favorites has left the building. Permanently.

In an attempt to sleep with a handsome young man in grad school, who happened to be a fan of some writer called David Foster Wallace, I read some of this guy's books. 3,768 pages later I can go ahead and assert that the work of DFW outsmarts, outfunnies, and outcrazies any other writer out there. His work is the best I've read, and I haven't looked at writing the same way again. I would kill to see the world through whatever hyper-aware ultra-smart lens he's got.

Unfortunately, Mr. Wallace hanged himself on Friday night.

The peculiar emotion that comes with the loss of someone important to you but whom you do not actually know is something I really wish DFW had stayed around long enough to write about, because it is both right up his alley and way beyond my capacity. I woke up this morning at the crack of 11, a bit hungover, and I stumbled to the kitchen table and opened my computer, as I do first-thing every morning. The pre-coffee news was shocking, of course. I gave a shout and my better half, who was also doing his pre-coffee computer opening news-checking ritual, did his best to be comforting.

But I am not upset about the loss of a person, am I? I'm not going to miss David Foster Wallace's great back rubs. Or his awesome eggplant casserole. Or his terrible singing voice. I am upset in a very selfish manner. I am upset that I was saving two of the stories in Oblivion, so that I would have some unread DFW material at all times, while I waited for his next book to come out. I was rather terrified of having read all of his work, and having nothing at all to which I could look forward. Now I am two stories away from having no more Wallace to read. I am sorry for the literary world. I made sure to post my grief on Facebook.

It is this exact kind of crap that he wrote about. The detached people of the modern world, their helpless pathetic searching for a cure for loneliness. The empty entertainment to which we cling. The odd places we find comfort. I think he would find it just fitting that people asserted their status as mourners on a social networking website.

And now here I am blogging about it.

At this point in America, with the ever-growing population offering no cure for an increasingly isolated, lonely collective existence (not to mention the growing popularity of extremism and the demonization of intelligence) any person as in tune to it, as able to characterize it so crisply as he was would be bound to suffer terribly. So I guess he ended that suffering. Or some other sort of suffering that he didn't write about. I have no idea; I didn't really know him.