Literary World Mourns Loss of David Foster Wallace

As NowPublic previously reported, one of the most gifted and incredible writers that I have ever had the pleasure of reading, David Foster Wallace, died on Friday at the age of 46, after an apparent suicide.

From Infinite Jest through to Brief Interviews With Hideous Men and Oblivion, his powerful writing was intricate, high-minded and often stupefyingly brilliant.

“Church Not Made With Hands” stands alone as his finest piece of writing and as a transcendent, heartbreakingly beautiful work of contemporary literature.

Wallace will be immensely missed.

David Foster Wallace, whose prodigiously observant, exuberantly plotted, grammatically and etymologically challenging, philosophically probing and culturally hyper-contemporary novels, stories and essays made him an heir to modern virtuosos like Thomas Pynchon and Don DeLillo, an experimental contemporary of William T. Vollmann, Mark Leyner and Nicholson Baker and a clear influence on younger tour-de-force stylists like Dave Eggers and Jonathan Safran Foer, died on Friday at his home in Claremont, Calif. He was 46.

Mr. Wallace was an apparent suicide. A spokeswoman for the Claremont police said Mr. Wallace’s wife, Karen Green, returned home to find that her husband had hanged himself. Mr. Wallace’s father, James Donald Wallace, said in an interview on Sunday that his son had been severely depressed for a number of months.

Authors, publishers, fans, and others in the literary world are coming together in grief after learning of Wallace’s tragic suicide:

The literary world is in grief for David Foster Wallace, an author of seemingly unstoppable curiosity, imagination and ambition who apparently killed himself last week. Readers are seeking out his work, including his 1,000-page novel “Infinite Jest” and the essay collection “Consider the Lobster.”

Wallace, who wrote with an explosive, ironic, but deeply serious passion about subjects ranging from tennis and politics to mathematics and cruise ships, was found dead by his wife in his home Friday night, according to the Claremont, Calif., police department. The 46-year-old author apparently hanged himself.

“He was the best of our generation, and his death is a loss beyond describing,” Richard Powers, winner of the National Book Award in 2006 for the novel “The Echo Maker,” told The Associated Press on Sunday.

“I am so sad – stunned – it reminds us all of how fragile we are, and how close at hand the darkness is,” said fellow author A.M. Homes, whose books include the novel “The End of Alice” and “The Mistress’s Daughter,” a memoir. “He was a wonderful writer, a generous friend, and a singular talent.”

A native of Ithaca, N.Y., Wallace was often compared to Thomas Pynchon and Don DeLillo as an avatar of the Information Age, a visionary and eclectic as hip to ancient Greece and British poetry as he was to computers and television and popular culture. He also wrote often about addiction, depression and suicide, a post-1960s Dystopia in which “irony, irreverence, and rebellion come to be not liberating but enfeebling.”

Wallace was far better known to his peers than to the general public, but news of his death led to a quick jump in sales for his books. As of Sunday night, “Infinite Jest” was in the top 20 on Amazon.com and “Consider the Lobster” was in the top 75. Several of his books were out of stock.

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