813.6 American fiction since 2000

The Associated Press reported today that novelist and essayist David Foster Wallace apparently hanged himself this past Friday. I had stupidly ignored him because I had an image of him as a hipsterish, archly clever and trendy young artist, the kind for whom good fortune seems to drop out of the sky. I say stupidly because I too easily bought into the image that reviewers had built up of a postmodern, ironic and inscrutable author whose ideas I could never hope to comprehend.

I heard an excerpt of an old interview with him today on NPR where he lamented that all these glowing reviews failed to mention the seriousness, the passion and the sadness that fueled his work. As I come to more fully understand the reasons people write, and the reasons I write, I see that no legitimate writer, or musician, or painter, etc., can really do much of anything worthwhile without such basic elements as truth and lies, love and hate, hope and despair, life and death and success and failure. I see now David Foster Wallace clearly had all these feelings, qualities and experiences in spades.

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