Saturday, September 13, 2008

A Shock

David Foster Wallace is dead by his own hand at 46.

From the LA Times obit:

"He was one of the most influential and innovative writers of the last 20 years," David Ulin, Times Book Editor, said. "He is one of the main writers who brought ambition, a sense of play, a joy in storytelling and an exuberant experimentalism of form back to the novel in the late '80s and early 1990s. And he really restored the notion of the novel as a kind of canvas on which a writer can do anything."

Wallace won a cult following for his dark humor and ironic wit, which was on display in "The Broom of the System," his 1987 debut novel; "Girl with Curious Hair," a 1989 collection of short stories, and "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments" (1997). In 1997, he also received a grant from the MacArthur Foundation.

A year earlier he shot to the top of the literary world with "Infinite Jest," a sprawling, ambitious novel with a nonlinear plot that ran 1,079 pages and had nearly as many footnotes. Critics marveled at the prodigious talent evident in his imaginative take on a future world, comparing him to Thomas Pynchon and John Irving.

In a 1996 profile in New York Times Magazine, Frank Bruni wrote, "Wallace is to literature what Robin Williams or perhaps Jim Carrey is to live comedy: a creator so maniacally energetic and amused with himself that he often follows his riffs out into the stratosphere, where he orbits all alone."

1 comment:

Ann said...

I just found this news myself, and my heart is still in my throat. I'm in a daze, sad and angry and sad.