Sunday, September 14, 2008

David Foster Wallace, 1962-2008

I never met David Foster Wallace, and he was much cooler and more successful than I'll ever be, but I always felt a certain kinship. He was almost exactly my age (two months younger), and we shared a love for tennis as well as a passion for language. A couple of links:

  • A clip about a usage peeve from an interview with Bryan Garner.

  • An essay about descriptivism vs. prescriptivism.

    Blork said...

    In the January 1996 issue of "Harper's" there was a long article about cruise ships. It was told in the first person, and was a bit of an exposé of the lameless of the whole cruise ship industry. It was funny, yet also kind of sad, but hugely readable.

    For years I saw that article as the benchmark for the kind of articles I like to read. I read it two or three times over the years but eventually lost my copy of the magazine.

    When a friend was getting ready to go on a cruise last spring, I decided to try to find the article. It wasn't easy to find since I didn't know the author's name or the date of publication. All I knew was "Harper's, cruise ships, and mid-90s."

    I eventually found a typo-laden version of it on some third-party Web site. In the end, I didn't give it to my friend because I didn't want to ruin his vacation, but I was never so glad to find an article on the Web.

    If you haven't guessed by now, the author was David Foster Wallace. As far as I know its the only thing of his that I've read, but I made a note to look out for more by him. That article, it turns out, was re-published as the main essay in his book "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Agian."

    His passing is a great loss.

    H. Philip Aster said...

    A few years ago I read Infinite Jest and Everything and More: A Compact History of the Infinite back to back and came away amazed at Wallace's incomparable intellect. I may have learned more from those two books than I did in all of high school.

    Bill, I think I e-mailed you about Infinite Jest because I was impressed with several aspects of the book, including Wallace's handling of some hyphenation issues that are occasionally discussed by the terminally geeky.

    I am saddened by his death. We have lost an extraordinary talent; the world is less because of it.

    Unknown said...

    And you went to school with David, didn't you, Bill?

    Bill said...

    I hadn't thought of that connection until after I posted this, but DFW did get his MFA at UofA right after I got my journalism BA.