David Foster Wallace Suffered From The Greatest Depression

Moe · 09/26/08 10:56AM

The author David Foster Wallace has been memorialized by scores of people since he hanged himself two weeks ago. The vast majority of these people barely knew him at all, so the online trade fair of grief, initially dominated by the McSweeney's website until Elizabeth Wurtzel's silver lame leotard threw its own shadow shiva session over at New York, has struck more than a few saddish literary men as more than a little vulgar. Oh well. Today a few people who actually did know him, including his parents, share the details of his last miserable days with Salon's Robert Ito.He'd been clinically depressed for two decades, on "powerful" medication (and apparently also Skoal) that made it possible for him to write — this may be vulgar but I have been too thoroughly inculcated in our compulsive culture of psychopharmacological comparison shopping not to wonder why they never tell you which — but the meds had powerful side effects, so he went off them in the summer of 2007, to apparently disastrous consequences. He tried electric shock therapy and other unspecified meds; nothing worked. He couldn't write or eat, and dropped to 140 pounds. He took a medical leave from teaching. A student is quoted saying his great genius was unrelated to his great depression. That student is wrong.

On Knowing Elizabeth Wurtzel Screwed David Foster Wallace

Moe · 09/23/08 10:01AM

That Elizabeth Wurtzel had some thing with David Foster Wallace in the nineties is the type of news flash I'd like to have failed detecting this week. Namely because to blog about Elizabeth Wurtzel is to tempt oneself to unwind the various tranches of disquietude summoned when someone like me conducts a Wurtzel Google Image Search. There's the first tranche of familiarity; I've conducted this search before; the second: I remember quickly that I will invariably, though tempted by the grainy topless shots from Bitch, like Radar before me quickly settle on the hottest color photo available, the one she used for the cover of her 2001 addiction memoir More, Now, Again, even though Wurtzel has graciously offered us photographic evidence that she has, in the intervening (ohgod) seven and a half years, aged. For this is not a new asset, this story; the underlying episode dates back to the nineties, when Wurtzel was still dressing up her faculties and skills with too much blue eyeliner and too many mood-altering substances in lieu of the appropriate degree of risk management and/or clothes.So let's examine that tranche for a second: here we have Wurtzel, drawn to David and his big, serious, ambitious, meaty, unfrivolous gold standard of a book; David, drawn to Wurtzel by her fucking leotard and perhaps her nebulous promise to impart upon his serious asset some sort of value-unlocking sense of "buzz"…signing onto one of those confusing, fuzzy subprime relationships that were all the rage, still are. The fine print is almost amusing to us now: the hazy fundamentals and wild histrionics and bombastic promises dependent on "trajectories" neither has any clue how — neither is socialized to have any clue how — to redirect toward a soft landing. Yes, you have done that sort of fucking. From a 1996 account of his reading at the KGB Bar:

Point-Counterpoint: Laughing At Tragedy

Hamilton Nolan · 09/18/08 04:33PM

POINT: "This is tacky even for the Onion, not too funny," a tipster emails us. The story in question? "NASCAR Cancels Remainder Of Season Following David Foster Wallace's Death." Sample: "At least for the moment, drivers found it hard to think about the Sprint Cup. 'All race long on Sunday, I was dealing with the unreality presented me by his absence,' said #16 3M Ford Fusion driver Greg Biffle...'I first read Infinite Jest in 1998 when my gas-can man gave me a copy when I was a rookie in the Craftsman Truck Series.'" COUNTERPOINT: No, it's funny. [The Onion]

David Foster Wallace's Online Legacy

Ryan Tate · 09/16/08 07:16AM

Harper's has made available online eleven essays by David Foster Wallace following the postmodern writer's suicide last week. Bloggers have rounded up other DFW work available online, including his Times profile of Roger Federer and 2000 Rolling Stone profile of John McCain. There are also videos, including the writer's appearances on Charlie Rose (other) and these moments collected by the LA Times. All told, the world is left with a reasonably extensive sampling of the writer's work available at the click of a mouse — at least enough to draw in new readers and perhaps even convince them to attempt his daunting masterpiece, Infinite Jest. [via Daring Fireball, Wonkette, LA Times]

David Foster Wallace Dead of Suicide at 46

Jasper Reardon · 09/13/08 07:08PM

Police have confirmed to Gawker that David Foster Wallace, novelist and essayist, was found dead of an apparent suicide in his home in Claremont, California, where he was a professor at Pomona College. It's been reported that his wife found him after he hanged himself. Foster Wallace, longtime darling of grad students and civilian PoMo lit fans, was often very funny in print (see his famous essay skewering the cruise ship experience, "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again"), but as his 2005 speech at Kenyon College implied, he was not unfamiliar with the heft of existence:

Child-Aged David Foster Wallace Is As It Were Unfunded

Nick Douglas · 03/04/08 09:49PM

The boys and girls at comedy site Something Awful have written stories by "famous writers as children." The exercise starts with a sharp send-up of Chuck Palahniuk, discussing the love of humans for helpless puppies (a topic so close to us all this week). In the example below, David Foster Wallace (age 10) writes to his parents asking for a bigger allowance.

'Page Six:' Not Actually The Foster Wallace Fans You'd Expected

Emily Gould · 11/13/06 10:50AM

Page Six reports that 'The Office' megahottie John "Jim" Krasinski is in town shooting an adaptation of David Foster Wallace's unfilmable-seeming footnotefest The Broom of The System, but a quick imdb'ing reveals that the unfilmable-seeming footnotefest Krasinski is actually working on is Wallace's Brief Interviews With Hideous Men. Jesus H, Page Six. To, like, twelve geeks, this is a WAY bigger fuckup than the Butterscotch Stallion/Mocha Pony scandal last week. Hey, speaking of the Stallion and the Pony, we've always thought they'd be perfectly cast as Hal and Orin Incandenza. John, keep that in mind for when you get around to Infinite Jest, okay?