2009-03-28

David Foster Wallace, RIP

I was not a fan of David Foster Wallace's work while he was living, and attempting to read an exerpt from the unfinished manuscript he left behind proves that I'm still not a fan now that he's gone. (Cue Husband screaming "That John McCain piece is amazing! You have no idea what you're talking about! David Foster Wallace was a genius!")

That said, I found the profile of DFW by D.T. Max in the March 9 issue of The New Yorker fascinating. Max did a fine job showing how DFW's process was affected by his lifelong depression, and DFW's own awareness of both. DFW used to write his friends about these things -- friends like Jonathan Franzen and Don Delillo. I quote:

In the wake of "Infinite Jest," he felt anxiety about his writing. Earlier, Wallace had asked DeLillo whether it was normal. DeLillo reassured him, invoking Henry James' words: "Doubt is our passion." He added, "Some writers may have to do 2, 3 books, say in midcareer, before they remember that writing can be fun."
I love that. I totally believe it, too. Writing is a dayjob that often sucks. But sometimes, if you push through it (like, for instance, struggling through draft 2 of a novel that you are passionately doubtful about) you get a chance to go back to a short story, which you realize, as you're reworking it, you love love love. (More on that story, soon ... I think it may be the best thing I have ever written.)

DFW was not my cup of tea, but I do have a soft spot for DeLillo ...