DAVID FOSTER WALLACE  1:52 pm September 14, 2008

by Sara K. Smith

 

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{ 49 comments }

Enturbulator September 14, 2008 at 2:04 pm

Truly sad news. His description of the Bush Presidency as “…an unmitigated horror show of rapacity, hubris, incompetence, mendacity, corruption, cynicism and contempt for the electorate…” is one I am posting at my workspace and will share with friends. It seems to me an excellent description of the truth of our times written by someone who left far too soon.

Texan Bulldoggette September 14, 2008 at 2:07 pm

He was probably horrified at the John McCain of 2008 vs. John McCain 2000.

grendel September 14, 2008 at 2:14 pm

This part was excellent:

“McCain himself has obviously changed; his flipperoos and weaselings on Roe v. Wade, campaign finance, the toxicity of lobbyists, Iraq timetables, etc. are just some of what make him a less interesting, more depressing political figure now”

Really a shame.

columnv September 14, 2008 at 2:20 pm

Suicide is not funny.

Never heard of him, but that doesn’t mean anything. Looks like we lost a good one.

AxmxZ September 14, 2008 at 2:23 pm

John McCain: driving great novelists to suicide with his fail.

Yeah, it’s not very funny.

Strictly for the Tardcore September 14, 2008 at 2:25 pm

Ugh… a Saturday mostly without snark, and now a Sunday that begins with this.

*sigh*

[re=95771]columnv[/re]: That really kind of says it all.

DoctorCulturae September 14, 2008 at 2:26 pm

Very sad news… a brilliant fellow with a razor sharp eye and sense of himself. He seemed to overcome irony by using it, and not letting it use him.

Ugh…what oh what happened to him? Sleep well Jest man.

regisgoat September 14, 2008 at 2:31 pm

I blame Palin.

Special Agent Jack Mehoff September 14, 2008 at 3:18 pm

Too bad he left early. Travel well, you selfish man, I’m sure we’ll be fine.

catchdis September 14, 2008 at 3:18 pm

jeebus . . . i wish he could have waited to see the election results . . .

Cronopio September 14, 2008 at 3:19 pm

Can we keep the snark to a minimum on this one? Some of us admired him greatly; he deserves more than being a punchline to McCain/Palin jokes.

fuzznuts September 14, 2008 at 3:40 pm

Snark on hold awaiting the next Palin show of brilliance.

HollowBrain September 14, 2008 at 3:41 pm

I still have yet to finish Infinite Jest.

Yet I am sad.

sanantonerose September 14, 2008 at 4:02 pm

Perhaps we can all collaborate to produce a follow up memorial essay entitled “True Tales of the Snowbilly Queen and Her Loyal Subjects.”

Hutch September 14, 2008 at 4:08 pm

Wasn’t he the person who said, “Listen, Jesus was a community organizer. Pontius Pilate was an experienced politician.” Maybe not.

Foster was indeed a brilliant writer. This is very sad news.

Johnny Zhivago September 14, 2008 at 4:28 pm
UnreliableNarrator September 14, 2008 at 4:48 pm

“This is water. This is water.”

travellabyrinth September 14, 2008 at 5:18 pm

Suicide, or attempt by the McCain campaign to get a cheap poll “bump”?

Terry September 14, 2008 at 5:19 pm

God bless him and may he find peace.

josereyes.theroof September 14, 2008 at 5:30 pm

His voice, not just in fiction, will be missed. My introduction to his words came late, March ’05, in an Atlantic cover story about conserv*o*bot talk-radio. Very elucidating read.

Neilist September 14, 2008 at 5:50 pm

I don’t know Foster’s work.

But there is a line from Hemingway to the effect that Life tends to kills the best of us sooner than the rest.

Take it as read.

Neilist September 14, 2008 at 5:54 pm

[re=95807]Neilist[/re]: Come to think of it, the same thought perhaps explains why I have survived this long.

Perhaps I’ll go to something Meaningful to end on a high note.

Would ripping off Gallo’s head and pissing down his neck, before dying in a hail of gunfire while screaming “Top of the world, Ma!,” count?

njdon September 14, 2008 at 5:55 pm

my guess is that his actions had nothing to do w/mccain but it is discouraging to see intrade betting today slightly favors mccain.

irisheyes September 14, 2008 at 6:08 pm

Always sad to lose a bright light.

travellabyrinth September 14, 2008 at 6:28 pm

[re=95809]njdon[/re]: intrade, hmm, the measure of how perceptions are being influenced by media. among people with disposable income no less, so it’s even worse, it’s measuring the effect of the meta- meta- media narrative on the perceptions of these folks.

travellabyrinth September 14, 2008 at 6:30 pm

Maybe he wrote something just pre-mortem that will destroy the McCain campain. And then killed himself to increase the weight and importance of the message.

AngryBlakGuy September 14, 2008 at 6:40 pm

…the Palin interview wasn’t that bad was it?! Now that I got the snark out of the way, its always sad when someone takes their own life. Unless of course it is Karl Rove, in which case I am all for assisted suicide.

NotLaughing September 14, 2008 at 6:50 pm

We’re all sad huh?

HemlockEcho1 September 14, 2008 at 7:54 pm

Wow. My jaw just hit the floor. Infinite Jest is one of my favorite books.

InsidiousTuna September 14, 2008 at 9:14 pm

That’s unfortunate.

justshocking September 14, 2008 at 9:23 pm

Sigh. Infinite Jest is one of my favorites. The crocodiles remind me of my dad. No irony here.

Tawmn September 14, 2008 at 9:54 pm

Men like these are why we truly fight for freedom each day, they are why we care. America is a tiny bit less free and less brave today… but only a tiny bit.

The art that is the soul of this country is why we fight.

Not oil… not terrorism… freedom.

magic titty September 14, 2008 at 9:58 pm

Very sad indeed.
Haven’t read Infinite Jest yet, but it was on the to-do list.

mattbolt September 14, 2008 at 10:09 pm

From the Amazon site for this McCain book:

[3/5 star rating] i didn’t read the book
September 14, 2008
By Lorraine (New Jersey)
but author david foster wallace committed suicide two days ago. not sure what that says about the current state of presidential politics, if anything. rest in peace, david. a huge loss.

I’m not sure how Lorraine decided that such a retarded, meaningless comment meant that the book was deserving of a precise 3-star review.

SuperRounder September 14, 2008 at 10:13 pm

We have been robbed.

weisenheimer September 14, 2008 at 11:47 pm

This is tragic. I have nothing witty to say.

Rebel Countess September 15, 2008 at 12:38 am

Never heard of the guy nor his book.

I’m sorry he took his own life, but why like THAT?

I’ve often thought of killing myself. In fact, I smoke like a chimney and drink like a fish to that sole end.

I HOPE TO DIE BEFORE BECOMING A BURDEN TO MY SONS AS MY MOTHER WAS TO ME.

This guy hangs himself knowing full well his wife is going to come home and see his body hanging?

Hunter Thomson, also a “writer” shot himself while on the phone to his wife?

Bye bye.

NO LOSS.

More room for my kids.

W

DoktorZoom September 15, 2008 at 1:08 am

Well, shit. What a hell of a writer; we needed all the smart ones we could get, and the world’s going to be a little less interesting without Wallace. What that man could do with a footnote!

Shit.

contentsunderpressure September 15, 2008 at 1:30 am

I’ve read all his stuff more than once, and what few interviews he has done as well. Infinite Jest kept me intrigued and amused for weeks and that’s saying a lot. HST was another loss that hit home, but as far as I know Wallace at 46…well, I got nothing.

Kaclon September 15, 2008 at 2:03 am

[re=95852]Rebel Countess[/re]: Hey, you know what? Your issues are yours. Maybe own them and don’t attempt to dump them all over this particular tragedy. Regardless of what you think of the way he died, this was a loss, especially to those of us who gave a shit about the guy and the work he did.

njdon September 15, 2008 at 5:46 am

[re=95814]travellabyrinth[/re]: okey, dokey. it’s a horse race.

njdon September 15, 2008 at 6:00 am

[re=95773]Strictly for the Tardcore[/re]: mourning is officially over. ok, i’ll start off a fresh new week.
spent an interesting afternoon switching between watching the jets crash and burn against the bradyless pats, the leni riefenstahl version of sarah palin’s life on cnn, and anguishing over slate’s obsession with the stepford, neocon, peapod menace.

TGY September 15, 2008 at 10:23 am

[re=95852]Rebel Countess[/re]: I understand your anger.

kneejerk September 15, 2008 at 12:55 pm

I was also bummed by this news. I wish someone could have reached him before things got so bad (who knows, maybe they tried). I hope he’s at peace (and trolls find other patches to play in).

raider12 September 15, 2008 at 1:15 pm

If anyone bothered to read the NYT obit they would know he suffered from massive depression & had been hospitalized many times including undergoing electro-convulsive therapy (ouch!). What is truly amazing is the number of commentators who not only never read his work (okay, I found Infinite Jest to be ponderous at times but at least I read it) but never even heard of the guy. This aint much of a country of readers anymore (if it ever was).

Eclectablog September 15, 2008 at 1:55 pm

I have a quote from Infinite Jest at the top of my blog: “He’s one of these people who doesn’t need much, much less much more.” Although it took me three tries, I finally finished Infinite Jest last spring it was truly one of the most insightful pieces of satire, wit, and social commentary that I have ever read. It makes me truly sad to think that he was tortured by demons to the point that he felt he had to end his life. This is an untold loss to the world and I am grieving, for sure.

brown_recluse September 15, 2008 at 2:26 pm

And yet Rumsfeld lives.

Shit.

DoktorZoom September 15, 2008 at 2:45 pm

This morning’s Fresh Air had an excerpt from a 1997 interview with Wallace. Appropriately enough, considering the tone of a lot of the comments here, it’s a discussion of the problem of irony–on the one hand, a constant diet of snark isn’t very nourishing, but in trying to get away from excessive irony, one runs the risk of sounding like The Bridges of Madison County.

crh86 September 15, 2008 at 7:47 pm

Depression is an illness that warps the mind and keeps a person from thinking clearly. I don’t believe it is a selfish act as much as a desperate need to end chronic mental pain that feels unbearable. I highly doubt it had anything to do with politics.

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