Why do all the writers I like kill themselves?
David Foster Wallace, author of Infinite Jest and a lot of other things, as well as one of the most ferociously intelligent and talented writers I have ever had the pleasure of reading, hanged himself on Friday, September 12.
Wallace, who wrote with an explosive, ironic, but deeply serious passion about subjects ranging from tennis and politics to mathematics and cruise ships, was found dead by his wife in his home Friday night, according to the Claremont, Calif., police department. The 46-year-old author apparently hanged himself.
“He was the best of our generation, and his death is a loss beyond describing,” Richard Powers, winner of the National Book Award in 2006 for the novel The Echo Maker, told The Associated Press on Sunday.
He really was a fantastic writer. I still haven’t had the guts to get through the 1’000+ page Infinite Jest, but his essay collections are some of my favorite nonfiction, bar none.
There is one notable falsehood in AP’s report, though:
Asked what Wallace had been working on at the time of his death, [longtime editor Michael Pietsch] offered no specifics, but said: “He was always writing something. He was always doing something ambitious.”
I distinctly remember reading that Wallace was working on his next big piece of fiction (not short stories like Oblivion, but more like Infinite Jest). I know he probably has lots of unfinished writing that may eventually be edited and released, but this still sucks.