Monday, September 15, 2008

David Foster Wallace

David Foster Wallace was one of those writers I didn't even bother envying--his talent and his energy were simply on a different plane, one I could only reach by Star Trek transporter. I never read Infinite Jest, but Brief Interviews with Hideous Men has been on my bedside table for over a year. I look to it whenever I feel trapped by the conventional short-story form. I've broken too many stories by trying to force them into Freitag's triangle. Whereas Wallace would be, like, what triangle? What the hell are you talking about? He simply blows form away, turns it inside out. His stories are all voice, and for him voice is far more than enough.

Amanda Marcotte makes the interesting point that all of us are complicit in a creative person's suicide; we feed off that person's sadness (though he was willing, more than willing, to let us do so). I'm not sure how I feel about that idea. The late and equally lamented Joe Strummer once said non-smokers should be banned from enjoying any creative work done by smokers. After all (I'm interpolating a bit), they're the ones who scorched their lungs and risked cancer as part of their creative process. It's not fair that we get to have it risk-free.

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