Posts Tagged 'David Foster Wallace'

Unfinished Business

“I have a feeling you’re going to read this book like most people read ‘Harry Potter.'” – friend, Meghan Witzke re: me & David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King


Rarely do such high levels of excitement and sadness meet like this. Because I can’t stop talking about the book to people – and because many of them weren’t aware of the situation – they keep asking, “How did he die?” which keeps catching me off-guard before having to explain that he killed himself. Suicide is different territory to color the normal experience of anticipation.

You read the first page and you want to cry it’s so beautiful. You can’t help but stop every few pages, when the little cup of disbelief spills over again and you can’t believe someone so talented wouldn’t want to keep living and then immediately catch yourself and judge yourself for thinking about life – and much more someone with mental illness’s experience of it – in the simple terms of easy-to-quantify, pros-vs-cons. And then you read a few more pages and get lost in his words again; in how acute his talent was for how to translate specific, minute details of experience into the kinds of sentences that make you go, “Yes! That’s exactly how that feels!” Here, Claude Sylvanshine is on a plane:

Wisps and flashes of uncolored cloud flashed past the window. Above and below were a different story, but there was always something disappointing about clouds when you were inside them; they ceased to be clouds at al. It just got really foggy.

His observations about people were equally deft:

The trick was homing in on which facts were important — Reynolds was a rifle to Sylvanshine’s shotgun.

The book’s editor, Michael Pietsch, provides a note at the beginning of the book, explaining the process of retrieving a 250-page prepared, finished manuscript from Wallace’s home, as well as a large duffel bag and two Trader Joe’s sacks filled with various drafts of chapters, false starts, dead ends, including notes from Wallace about them, which, while providing some insight about the overall scope and vision of the book, did not give any indication as to the order of the pages or chapters. Pietsch writes,

The novel’s central story does not have a clear ending, and the question invariably arises: How unfinished is this novel? How much more might there have been?…Some notes among David’s manuscript pages suggest that he did not intend for the novel to have a plot substantially beyond the chapters here. One note says the novel is “a series of setups for things to happen but nothing ever happens.”…Still another suggests that throughout the novel “something big threatens to happen but doesn’t actually happen.” These lines could support a contention that the novel’s apparent incompleteness is in fact intentional.

He also explains that the entire bulk of pages and notes will eventually be on display to the public at the University of Texas. Think of that: it’s the closest thing you have to a tangible presentation of an author’s writing process. It’s an opportunity not without its conflict, though, as is the whole idea of publishing and reading the book at all. Is this right? Would the writer even want me looking at this? Pietsch understands this feeling, and ends his note this way:

Everyone who worked with David knows well how he resisted letting the world see work that was not refined to his exact standard. But an unfinished novel is what we have, and how can we not look? David, alas, isn’t here to stop us from reading, or to forgive us for wanting to.

All That Remains

It is unavoidably worthy of discussion that a notoriously perfectionistic writer’s final novel is being published first-of-all after his death, and secondly unfinished and incomplete. Because it’s known that Wallace often felt he couldn’t get out of his own way, it seems deeply significant that he didn’t even get to choose the order of chapters he wrote. But is there actually any real significance there? A case could be made that after Infinite Jest, the only way to up the literary ante would be to publish a work in progress as the finished thing (since after all, is any work of art ever complete, or does someone just decide here’s as good a place as any to put it to bed?), but is that true? Is it fair? Or is it just a way of talking around the irony embedded in thick tragedy?

It should go without saying, but maybe among people like me doesn’t, that as interesting as the book and the story around its publishing are, they would be given up in a moment – the book given back unread and us all going back to patiently waiting for it for who knows how long – for the return of its author. And hopefully the true nature of the interest for us is in fact affection for Wallace and his writing and not some sort of elitist rubber-necking. We have the situation we have, created without and then experienced fully by us. And while sadness drapes the proceedings, it is the truth of this world and even yes I will declare a loving God that there can be/have been both beautiful and good things to come out of it all.

The New Yorker published an extensive piece in 2009 called “The Unfinished,” which talked about his life, his work, his death, and the impact on writing and writers he left behind. Recently there was a great article about Karen Green, Wallace’s widow, in which she talks about being furious and trying to move on and make art again and also mentions “watching The Wire box-set for the third time,” which is a detail that just kills me. It’s a great piece. Jonathan Franzen, in his interview in TIME, said he wrote most of his newest novel after Wallace’s death. I’m mentioning written things, yes, because they’re a tangible product. There’s no way to gauge the impact of a person, let alone one with any celebrity, but I know what it feels like to be impacted by another person, as I’m sure you do. You know it by the way you instinctively connect things to them, moments in your life, pieces of inspiration. I know he’s impacted me and will continue to. I know I love his words and how they’ve impacted me as a writer and as a person. I wish he was still alive. A lot of people do. But that doesn’t mean his death can’t/doesn’t/won’t have meaning. And the question of why he couldn’t have just kept having an impact by continuing to live is an unanswerable on this side of things as how different The Pale King would be if he’d finished writing it. It doesn’t nullify meaning, it just makes it harder to see sometimes.

Me Talking About David Foster Wallace, Then Reading From The Pale King (Note: The reading itself starts around 4:55)


Infinite Jest (II), (III), and (IV)

About  half way through David Foster Wallace’s magnum opus of a novel, Infinite Jest you realize it’s not going to end like a regular book. You realize this because the book tells it to you pretty openly. It spends much of its time ruminating and wondering about and arguing about and analyzing all of the ways in which our expectations tend more to reflect an abstracted definition of success rather than reality. And in so organizing it this way, Wallace gets to the heart not only of his book’s over-arching thematic statements (which incorporate nearly all realms familial, societal, artistic, athletic, narcotic, political)– its raison d’etre (as it would, did, does say)– but also Wallace’s own deep-rooted conflicts about the power of art to change people; of entertainment; of their place and status in our lives, and those of the artists and entertainers delivering them to us.

But it’s even more than all that too. Our expectations (in general, but for the novel in particular too, I suppose) are only important because they can help us try to figure things out or at least organize experience in a way that makes sense from one moment to the next. What should our lives be, what should anyone’s life be? What should we be doing, what does it mean to live life successfully? And in order to answer that, we have to figure out what does it mean to be successful in the first place? Whose definition? Our own? Our parents’? Society’s? And since one of the main ways success is gauged is by achievement, we look at our talents and we look at what achievements those talents can accrue and we set ourselves to the task of achieving those achievements. For Wallace, achievement lies in writing. And so this book is as much about itself as it is about its author trying to figure out what is the best type of book for a single author to attempt to write.

See? This is what happens when you start thinking about this book. Because it’s so big and so dense and can get your mind swirling very easily, I notice I haven’t been able to do more than imply the role that “addiction” in all its forms plays into all of this. But to put it simply, which is nearly impossible to do, to me the book is about addiction – to success, expectations, entertainment, family demons, et al. – and how it takes something more than (and outside of) ourselves to be able to do anything about it.

A Concise Explanation of "Infinite Jest"

It makes sense, then, that the book is all over the place, which it is, though as I said way back in September, not all over the place in a confusing, un-followable way; but instead in an ingenious, alive, playful, searching way. One of the greatest pleasures of the book is its ability to open up your own wonder at how it could possibly have been conceived by another person, how that person managed to juggle and blend and just keep straight all the pieces to the puzzle, while still creating a cohesive, engaging, entertaining piece of literature.

The best comparison I can make is the one that will also identify why I connected to this book so much — Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Magnolia.” Both are sprawling stories in which the unbeknownst interconnectivity of a community of people creates the landscape for the story; in which plot details are not simply vague but indecipherable; in which the past has a vice-grip on the characters and forces them to wonder how far back the patterns go and what, if anything, they can do to change that; and in which the ending can be described as so many different things, among which “conventional” is not one.

Infinite Jest has the advantage of being a novel which allows it to move more seamlessly through many different places in time. As well, because it shows us things with words, not images, it is able to make a character who is almost never actually present the central, dominating force of the book: James O. Incandenza. For fun, I’ll gives the most basic plot outline. James O. Incandenza was an annular- physicist-turned-tennis-academy-founder-turned-uber-anti-confluential-filmmaker (see?) who makes one particular film called “Infinite Jest,” which is said to have be so entertaining that all who watch it cannot look away and eventually die from watching it. A Canadian terrorist cell, “The Wheelchair Assassins” wants to get its hands on the film to make copies and use as a terrorist weapon. Trouble is, the film was never released, so no one has a copy, except but there must be a master copy floating around, right? The filmmaker has three sons, Orin (a kicker for the Arizona Cardinals), Hal (a 17-yr old at the tennis academy), and Mario (who is disabled and shared his father’s cinematic interests). The book also follows Don Gately, who is on staff at the half-way house down the hill from the tennis academy, where he is on parole himself and where he helps others who are connected to the filmmaker and the film itself, though none of them seem to know it. And all of this moves out in larger and larger circles.

When the book begins, James O. Incandenza has already killed himself. The book follows a few major plot lines, chronicling the events of the tennis academy — with about dozen major supporting characters and ### minor characters — and those at the halfway house – with another few dozen supporting characters and another ### minor characters — and then there are Steeply and Marathe, government officials involved in multi-layered double crosses, Marathe being a member of the aforementioned “Wheelchair Assassins.” When your book is 1100 pages long, you’d be surprised how effectively you can keep all of these strands going.

What makes the book powerful to me is the way Wallace balances his book’s world. He succeeds at creating a hilariously absurdist world, which contains so many elongated passages involving multiple complex rationales and some of the flat-out funniest writing I’ve ever read, which exposes the flaws in manmade systems. He also examines the endless minutiae of three very separate worlds – drug additions, sports [mainly tennis and football], and filmmaking – and does so in a way that is neither comprehensive nor simplified and uses them to powerfully extend into the thematic realms.

Because the writing is so funny and so smart and contains so much word-play, there is the very real danger of losing touch with the characters; of populating the world with interesting but ultimately un-identifiable people. And so Wallace deliberately slows things down sometimes and allows characters to talk, to really just talk and communicate and seek and try to make sense of their lives and circumstances and pasts. He allows them to share themselves with others in the hope of creating a connection and maybe just identifying with them. These passages come to us in a few different ways. Some are third-person narrations which take on the particular speech patterns of one specific character, as the events are relayed. Some are told through recollections of other characters, with rich, detailed prose that takes your breath away. Some are told through letters, some through terse transcripts of recorded conversations. There is the tale of the woman who refused to stop using drugs during pregnancy, gave birth to a stillborn child and carried it around like it was alive, so great was her guilt, so crushing was her grief. There is the story of Eric Clipperton, who played every tennis match holding a hand-gun to his head, threatening to shoot himself if the other player did not let him win. There is Mrs. Waite, an old lady who lived across the street from Don Gately and “basically radiated whatever mixture of unpleasantness and vulnerability it was that made you want to be cruel to her.” But my favorite is a monologue spoken to James O. Incandenza as a young boy, by his father. The section details all of the aspirations the father has for his son and also recounts an enormously painful moment in the father’s childhood that involved his father. The monologue is 12 pages long, unbroken by any prosaic interruptions. Just a father talking to his son. I could quote from these passages for a hundred pages and still it would not be enough. There is too much great writing in this book to choose economically.

These small diversions, these “systems within systems” are here because this is how people help other people and this is how Wallace hoped to help his readers, maybe the only way he knew how to. There is so very much of him in this book, so that you establish a personal connection to the writer as well as the characters. This is a writer placing himself right there with his creations, in their midst, on their level. A writer seeking to write something lasting, that will create a bond between himself and those who read the book, as well as between the readers with each other. The book is a constant reference point between myself and a friend who’s read it; not because we’ve created an elite club, but because there is a sense of shared experience between us.

I love books like this. As a writer, it has dazzled me, because it’s something so far beyond the abilities I possess. There is so much skill and craft involved, and yet love of story and of character. I also love it because reading this book is like going to writing class. It’s expanded the way I view writing in every way. It has built bridges to islands of imagination that were hitherto uncharted in my mind. I don’t think I’ve ever had this many new ideas to write about.

Infinite Jest can be overwhelming. It takes time. It takes patience. There are big words. But the effort it requires is nothing compared to the rewards that reading it affords. Please read this book. And then call me in 4-6 months. We’ll go get some food and talk about it, and we’ll have a great time.

Recent Readings 1 – David Foster Wallace

David Foster Wallace killed himself in September of 2008. I turned 25 that month. He’d already published a book by that age. When he died, he left an uncompleted manuscript for a novel he’d been working on for years, since his second novel, Infinite Jest came out in 1996. Before he hanged himself, he wrote his wife a note and left the manuscript on his desk, incomplete, but findable. It will be published this fall.

I’ve been reading a lot lately, and somehow between buckling down so I can finish Infinite Jest and thinking about the legacy we leave behind, I’ve been drawn more and more to Wallace. I read a wonderful selection from his unfinished novel, The Pale King, which appeared in The New Yorker as “Wiggle Room” in 2009, in addition to an extensive farewell article, a short biography of his life and work and hopes and fears. It’s called “The Unfinished.”

Page of transcript from “The Pale King” w/ notes and alterations by its author David Foster Wallace

My goal was to give an analysis of both the selection and the article, but jeez, I just think you should read them both right now and then call me and then we can talk about it for hours and hours.

The article about Wallace’s life dealt with his (Wallace’s) belief that in a world of hyperactivity, boredom can lead to amazing breakthroughs in one’s life. Transpose that to food, and it’s the same as fasting. What is strange is that reading, for me, in my current place, is just such a breakthrough. It has served as a reminder of everything I want my life to be, even if that’s not what it is right now. His novel is about an IRS Rote Examiner, saddled with the task of an endless string of reports to calculate, tabulate and validate. That he tries—and fails—to do this mindlessly is the biggest problem in his life. He can’t get over how much his mind won’t just go blank, let time slip away, and let his body do his job. If he could, he knows his days would go by faster. But he can’t and so he is left checking the clock moment to moment to moment.

This is the very same issue I’m dealing with at work: boredom. With nothing to do, the break-through for me has been returning to reading. I’ve noticed if left to my own devices and with everything available to me, I read less than I would like to. I write less than i would like to. At work, all I can think about is how much I want to do these things, because all of the other distractions and activities are removed and I am faced with boredom, with nothing. And when I see that nothing, I can also see what I want it to be filled in with. With writing and reading. With films, absolutely, but I don’t have to push myself to watch movies or TV shows. So at work, I find my appetite for reading is immense. I inhale articles and stories. But how weird to be sitting at work, as all around people are on the phones and talking insurance, and there I am being taken away and deeply moved by writers. There have been moments when I wanted to cry for being moved or laugh out loud for being tickled. I find myself glancing around, sure someone has noticed. My facial expressions aren’t those of an adjuster. They’re of a reader. I love it.

Some of the best things about the article are Wallace’s thoughts on writing:

Fiction’s about what it is to be a fucking human being” and should make one “become less alone inside.”

“It seems like the big distinction between good art and so-so art lies . . . in be[ing] willing to sort of die in order to move the reader, somehow. Even now I’m scared about how sappy this’ll look in print, saying this. And the effort to actually to do it, not just talk about it, requires a kind of courage I don’t seem to have yet… All the attention and engagement and work you need to get from the reader can’t be for your benefit; it’s got to be for hers.”

“Really good fiction could have as dark a worldview as it wished, but it’d find a way both to depict this world and to illuminate the possibilities for being alive and human in it.”

“The idea that something so simple and, really, so aesthetically uninteresting—which for me meant you pass over it for the interesting, complex stuff—can actually be nourishing in a way that arch, meta, ironic, [post-modern] stuff can’t, that seems to me to be important.”

I see these ideas being sorted out in Infinite Jest, particularly the third sentiment. I also love how much he plays with words. “Wallace explained that Broom [of the System] wasn’t “realistic, and it is not metafiction; if it’s anything, it’s meta-the-difference-between-the-two.” ”

And if Wallace felt that way about his first book while writing his second, he seems to have had apprehensions about the second while writing the third. He still felt like he was using too many tricks. He’d been working on the book since 2000, and he couldn’t find his way through it. He wrote to numerous friends and other writers, looking for inspiration, begging, pleading for them to help his breakthrough. He fell into a sortof Charlie Kaufman-esque state. Aside from all the sections about the IRS workers, he writes himself into the book through faux-introductions and he makes up things about himself and just sticks it all in there. Because he couldn’t help how interested he was in absurdist writing and how in love with language he was. Because one of the things that is so great about his writing is the way it battles itself with its disparate tempos- here calm and straight-frward and beautiful in its simplicity; there frenetic and confusing and dumbfounding in its linguistic complexity.

Another Page of transcript from "The Pale King" w/ notes and alterations by its author David Foster Wallace

And yet, he didn’t want his work to become only about that. In the article he notes how irony can do a lot of things, but one thing it can’t do is redeem. It’s outside of the realm of irony’s abilities. It seems like he battled that throughout the composition of this new book. In one of those letters (I think to Franzen), he said for it to be any good, he would have to write a 50,000 page transcript and then cut it down from there to a readable “thing.”

The article is the place to go for info about Wallace. This is much more about how I think of myself in relation to what he said. But before he died, his goal was to create a work that is all the things he believes about writing and the world. So of course it includes him. He wanted to write something that helped someone. But, because of his mental state, which was in disarray (the article details the litany of medications he took and his various attempts and failures to half-successes to deal with depression), he couldn’t bring himself to write anymore. He had an untold number of pages and notes and ideas, but he couldn’t make it work the way he wanted to on the page. (The above pages were also posted on The New Yorker’s website. You can click on them to enlarge and read his notations. To me, it’s inspiring to read a writer at work.)

I know very well what that’s like. To get the tone of the thing right, to make it all of the things you want it to be – all of which are different so as to immediately avoid any criticism that a) it’s too nice or too cynical or too whatever and b) more importantly, to avoid any assumptions or categorization by readers (or viewers) about which parts of the writing directly mirror your own personality, c) it covers all the bases you know of to cover.

Wallace’s suicide seems almost like the given ending to his final novel. How else could an author’s final novel end, how else could his career end, but in death? It’s a surprise, given he wrote so much about himself in his new novel, that he did not write a post-script in which he killed himself. Perhaps because he could not focus enough to write or could not settle his fears enough to focus on anything other than the fact that he thought the fears were taking over him, he decided to make his reality the ending to his fiction. Perhaps this was the way he thought he could prove to his readers that he was willing to die for them.

He spoke so often of wanting to move of wanting to make his work something useful that would point people toward something better. He wanted his work to help people. And so it seems that he made his life the warning  and the blatant plea he could not figure out how to give on the page. A warning and plea to get help. A warning and plea to keep going. A warning and plea to do what, in the end he could not: to keep writing and to write something that helps make people less alone inside. He did it so well and so beautifully for a while. But he couldn’t sustain it, and he hated that fact.

Maybe he thought his life had become the emotional, mental equivalent of what my Grandfather’s body’s physical state was just before he died: unable to breathe on its own; damaged and deteriorated beyond repair, such that to go on living would not be living anymore. I’m not commending or even excusing his suicide. I’m just trying to gain some hint of his possible motivation.

And so the book will be published this fall. Talking with my good friend BJ, recently, he observed that for someone so wrapped up in style and the way Wallace’s own feelings about it expanded and arced the older he grew, combined with an increasing drive to be simultaneously helpful and innovative, the idea of an unfinished novel – particularly an unfinished novel he had grand reservations about – becoming the published work just might be more interesting than a “fully-realized” work of fiction. More interesting, more fitting, and more final. And besides, when in the history of any artistic endeavor worth pursuing has the phrase “fully-realized” entered the artist’s mind as a thing achievable?

Infinite Jest (I)

Because of the sheer size and literary scope of David Foster Wallace’s novel Infinite Jest, any singular attempt to write about it will be futile. So instead of giving a broad outline and a few highlights after I finish it, I’m going to write about it as I go along.

pinocchio-paradoxAs of page 100, there are only whispers of the plot, but more than enough themes and characters and literary devices to keep me busy. I’m forming a thesis in the margins, so we’ll see how accurate I am in another 1000 pages. Right now, the biggest compliment I can give to Wallace is his command of narrative, which is also to say narrative styles, of which, so far there are at least 5. Never are they unclear, though Wallace is by nature a very complicated writer. He defaults to wordplay and enjoys clause-filled technical explanations of chemicals, ingredients, and drugs. It might be daunting if you didn’t get such a clear sense that the book was, in fact, written to be enjoyed (and is immensely enjoyable).

As for his driving thematic, Wallace’s own complex/paradoxical paranoia takes center stage in almost every major character. We wait with a man for drugs to arrive for 11 pages, in which he explains that he has quit 70 or 80 items before, each time asking a different person to procure him one last stash, each time making that person swear never to get him drugs again, so that now he has to meet new people just so he has someone who will act as a third party to get him the drugs. There is Hal, who we see in a segment from his childhood, talking to a professional conversationalist whom he accuses of being his father in disguise, the production being the father’s only way to be sure that the son actually speaks and is intelligent. If you’ve read any of David Foster Wallace’s work before, these things will not surprise you, and if you enjoy the reflexive, confusing style of Charlie Kaufman’s films, you might feel strangely at home with this book.

I do.

Stop Following, Me.
Stop Following, Me.

One last thing. Infinite Jest contains 96 pages of endnotes, and instead of being one too many revolutions on the quirk cycle, the device contains my very favorite thing so far. Hal’s father, the late James O. Incandenza, left his scientific/athletic (I’m not quite sure what else) job late in life to make films. The novel spends a couple pages giving only a cursory history of him, in which we are directed to the endnotes for a 9-page filmography. Each entry contains standard information (documentary or narrative; black and white or color; running time; silent or sound) about his films, which include titles like: “Annular Fusion is Our Friend,” “Kinds of Pain,” “Every Inch of Disney Leith,” “Let There Be Lite,” “(The) Desire to Desire,” and “Sorry All Over the Place.” Also listed: “Infinite Jest” attempts I-V. Using only objective information, Wallace uses the filmography to (a) give us a piece of crucial information about the title of the book, (b) construct an entire character in a radically unique way, and (c) make us laugh. The summaries of the films are hysterical in a way equal to and greater than the very funny (though ultimately contextless) curiosities of something like John Hodgman’s The Areas of My Expertise. Hodgman’s is sortof an anti-book, and while it’s funny, its strands go off into nowhere and connect to nothing. Wallace’s absurdities keep us searching for where those strands have landed and keep us asking why. He takes the joke deeper into itself and also places it within the context of the novel, but without making it part of the novel itself. If he had explained the information contained in the filmography, the effect would be diminished, and it would become only another piece of plot. But a filmography is its own thing, so it is both itself and a narrative device. And if I am just spinning my wheels by this point, it is because I am having too much fun thinking about it all and don’t want to stop.

Sad Sad Sad

Writer David Foster Wallace was found dead in his home late last week. He hanged himself. He was 46. And today’s blog is brought to you by the letter, why?

There is no answer. Even if there WAS an answer, it wouldn’t be an answer, how could it be? A question wrapped in an incomplete explanation is what it would be. So, a better question might be, now that he has left us, what has he left us with? He was not exactly prolific, there are only 2 novels, and a handful of short story and essay collections. Perhaps you may stumble across an old article of his at some point. So, what does he leave? Most notably, he leaves behind the Biblically-lengthy novel Infinite Jest, a 979-page behemoth of a book, with an additional 96 pages of teeny-tiny foot-notes. What is the novel about, though? And here we are, back to the questions again.

With all suicides, there is that tendency to say either, “We had no idea, he seemed so normal,” or “If only we’d stepped in sooner.” Both are well-meaning, and I’ve thought both recently. To me, reading his work, he seemed incredibly intellectual, and, by his writing, put-together. Then, because he will not leave my mind, I went online and looked some stuff up. Watched about a 30 minute interview with Charlie Rose from 1997. And I was startled by how manic he was. Manic in the saddest, scariest sense of the word. He seemed constantly embarrassed, unsure of himself, apologetic for his answers. Near the end of the interview, Rose mentioned some thoughts of suicide, and DFW said he hated that people talked about that, because it felt so ordinary a thing to feel. Watching it felt eerie. But, honestly, if I’d seen it while he was still alive, I would’ve had a completely different reaction. Would’ve assumed he’d exorcised some demons. Would’ve assumed that was his eccentricity shining through, not a legitimate part of himself.

Fairly, or not, artists are summarized by their work. It is, after all, why they are known to us at all, so there is a posthumous fluency to this categorization. About his life, what really do we know? What is known is what is known publicly. His family and friends are allowed to feel the loss on a deeper, more personal level, but the only effect he can have on us, or at least me, is what his work did personally to me. And in that way, I guess, he lives on, and he does not. For his work will live on, for those who read 979 page novels and essay collections. And the lines like “He seemed to be a writer who…” will amass and disperse into the air.

So, what is there to say about him?

I could list for you all of his accomplishments, the Genius Grants, the Fellowships, the accolades, since many of you reading this likely do not know such trivia. But I didn’t know it either, while he was alive, so what point could possibly be served by it now that it has ceased to matter? I don’t know most of it now, still. I would have to look it up, just to write it down. It would seem much more impressive than it is. A rallying cry to remember a man who I forgot to learn about in the first place, you know, while he was alive…? Remembrance is for those who have a history, a relationship. I read two of his books, both of which have parts that stick out and a stylistic flair, and both of which left me equally as annoyed as elated. Not much of a history. So perhaps this note is much less memorial and much more apology.

At least now I might actually read Infinite Jest.


It Has Come to This

February 2019
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