There are great writers who harbor brilliant minds but whose works of poetry and fiction reside at the margins of my reading interests or framed another way, these sort of books achieve critical success in pushing art and its ideas forward yet fail to capture my willingness and attention, a prerequisite for engaging any kind of complex work of literature, especially when that book is almost 1100 pages long. One can always appreciate from afar the contributions of an artist who expands our intellectual grasp of what it means to be human while not delving into their work with the sort of zeal that a fan would.
I could spend all day reading about David Foster Wallace or watching the few interviews and public readings that are available on the internet. He was a larger than life sort of writer, who sadly passed away in 2008 at the age of 46. He had both his admirers and his critics, as do all great writers who make a cannonball like splash in the publishing world. His most well known and critically lauded work, Infinite Jest (1996), is a magisterial novel that firmly cemented him as a sort of Kurt Cobain of the literature world.
I’ve been reading a new book of interviews that Wallace gave just at the moment that Infinite Jest brought him notoriety. Wallace possessed a dazzling and erudite mind that is captured here as he discusses a wide range of topics. His quick wit, wildly learned analyses and self-deprecating views on his recent celebrity, along with intimate discussions regarding his battle with depression will help the novice reader understand this key writer prior to engaging his novels and essays or will provide his already established fans with greater insights into his life and works. Here is a clip of Wallace talking to Charlie Rose sometime during the late nineties.
Although of course you end up becoming yourself : a road trip with David Foster Wallace