September 16, 2008

David Foster Wallace

I don't usually spend blog time on obituaries but this death gave me pause.

Someone I am just getting to know is David Foster Wallace and sadly because someone mentioned him on Saturday, the day he died. I had heard of him over the years but didn’t pay much attention. Many called Wallace one of the greatest writers and essayists in American history. But he wasn’t flashy, he didn’t write books that turned into Hollywood blockbusters, and he shunned the spotlight.

When I heard of his passing I went online to search for more information about him. After reading some, I watched an interview he did with Charlie Rose in 1997. He seemed the reluctant type, shy, and borderline apologetic.

Wallace once said we often lump writers into the same box – as if to say anyone who works with words is of the same mind and theory. Good point. But writers are often complicated and many are quite fragile.

The late Red Smith once summed it up succinctly; “There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.” Writing is difficult. Publishing your work is even tougher. The microscope is your enemy and the readers can crucify you in a blink. Everyone is in fact a critic.

David suffered from depression for over twenty years and finally took his own life on Saturday. Wallace was only 46 and just getting started.


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