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Tribute to David Foster Wallace

Rest In Peace, David Foster Wallace

I'm still wrapping my head around the news that author David Foster Wallace died over the weekend of an apparent suicide. At just 46 years old, he was one of the more inventive, original, and observant writers of our time.

In his all-too-brief career, Wallace used his incisive prose in a wide variety of forms, including essays, short stories, and two novels, including the gargantuan, more-than-1,000-page (if you count the footnotes) Infinite Jest. I read Infinite Jest, footnotes and all, over one very long Summer, and I'll never forget the way its sprawling cast of characters wormed its way into my thoughts.

Infinite Jest wasn't his only memorable work, though, not by a long shot. He put a different spin on journalism in his essay collections, including his skewering of the Illinois State Fair and hilarious retelling of his experiences on a luxury cruise in A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again. His short stories, too, were a unique window on our popular culture and an adventure to read. The word "genius" gets thrown around a lot, but I truly believe it might be the most apt label for Wallace. His work had as many detractors as fans — but it always got people talking.

As a reader, I will miss the chance to explore his work — but of course, I just knew him as words on a page. My thoughts go out to his family and friends.

Photo courtesy of Steve Rhodes

Join The Conversation
anniekim anniekim 8 years
Thanks for this post Buzz. I knew him only through his writings, but I will miss David Foster Wallace terribly.
Molly Molly 8 years
David Foster Wallace came to Pomona when I was a junior. I would often see him sitting at the campus center with students — honestly, looking like a student himself in a bandana, shorts, sandals, long hair, messenger bag. While I myself was never able to take a class from him, I have friends who did and while that kind of genius can be hard, they always cherished his (often bizarre and esoteric, like most of his writing) feedback on papers, office hours conversations, lectures. While I did not know him, he seemed kind. This news was troubling and sad to hear over the weekend. Reading through the outpouring of tributes, comments, and thoughts on the internet it's clear he will be missed by many.
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
i always wonder what goes on in the mind of a writer - we typically hear that they have more personal angst and pain than even actors - and to think that this could be the outcome - especially of someone so young - well it's hard. i'm sure that he's going to be missed and at least we have a lot of material for him to be remembered by.
hooligan hooligan 8 years
i just watched "Legally Blonde" last night, and in the Law School Orientation part of the movie, there is a character in Elle's orientation group that looks like he was modeled after David Foster Wallace: a long-haired-bandanna wearing genius listing off his credentials...
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