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Confessions of a David Foster Wallace addict

17th September 2012 - Drew Hunt

 

The tragic suicide of David Foster Wallace at the age of just 46 robbed the book world of one of its most dazzling and original talents. Drew Hunt from our Charing Cross Road branch admits to a literary crush.



David Foster Wallace, this is a love letter.


Reading it may cause nausea. I also have the sorry feeling that it sounds like a YouTube comments thread; none of the vitriol but all of the over-sharing. It's fair to say that when it comes to idealised crushes, teenage girls have nothing on me.


Although Of Course You End Up Becoming YourselfIt began with Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself (a five-day interview following the publication of Infinite Jest). James Lipsky was bigging you up while pushing you to admit you like the hyperbolic "comparison to the greats" attention you'd been receiving. I'll admit, I was worried about potential false modesty here, poor show.


After much deflecting of questions - the whiff of FM? - you said that of course part of you enjoyed it, but "It's not the part I let drive". This was the coolest thing to say because while you're admitting a person may have layers of feelings about a certain thing, you're also saying there's choice into which feelings you give weight to. Sophisticated and true, I liked you then for your honesty, little did I know that your fiction would show the same spectrum of emotions.


Then it came thick and fast: This is Water, short stories from Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, essays, oh the essays, from Consider the Lobster and A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again - highlights here were enthusiasm-through-the-page for Dostoevsky, tales of a tennis prodigy and, of course, your famous cruise. So. Much. Laughing.


But I suppose this was just warming up for the big one, the super nova: "I knew him, Horatio: a fellow of Infinite Jest". Would it go the way of Gravity's Rainbow and Ulysses, not even half read by this deflated reader? Please. Infinite Jest was the single most enjoyable reading experience of my life. Six weeks lovingly huddled over brilliance, hilarity, such such sadness, the most fantastic tangents that ARE worth reading, characters you want to hit, characters you want to hold. Infinite Jest is a world that, for a time, I lived in and for me, is an example of the peaks that art can reach, a glittering on the surface of the night sky... oh man, you wouldn't even find that on a YouTube thread. *Head hung shame*


And now I'm left trawling the internet for you, unpublished essays, fragments... anything. I buy books that mention you, books that you wrote forewords to, books that you read and loved; Dear Sir, you're my literary firmament, and I'm lonely for you.

Yours sincerely,

Andrew J Hunt

 

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