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Posthumous Wallace

The New Yorker has a huge profile of David Foster Wallace out, complete with excerpt from his last, unfinished work. Here’s a taste of the profile:

The sadness over Wallace’s death was also connected to a feeling that, for all his outpouring of words, he died with his work incomplete. Wallace, at least, never felt that he had hit his target. His goal had been to show readers how to live a fulfilled, meaningful life. “Fiction’s about what it is to be a fucking human being,” he once said. Good writing should help readers to “become less alone inside.” Wallace’s desire to write “morally passionate, passionately moral fiction,” as he put it in a 1996 essay on Dostoyevsky, presented him with a number of problems. For one thing, he did not feel comfortable with any of the dominant literary styles. He could not be a realist. The approach was “too familiar and anesthetic,” he once explained. Anything comforting put him on guard. “It seems important to find ways of reminding ourselves that most ‘familiarity’ is meditated and delusive,” he said in a long 1991 interview with Larry McCaffery, an English professor at San Diego State. The default for Wallace would have been irony—the prevailing tone of his generation. But, as Wallace saw it, irony could critique but it couldn’t nourish or redeem. He told McCaffery, “Look, man, we’d probably most of us agree that these are dark times, and stupid ones, but do we need fiction that does nothing but dramatize how dark and stupid everything is?”

What a shame, what a shame he’s gone…

3 comments on “Posthumous Wallace

  1. Denise
    March 2, 2009

    Thanks for this link, Andrea. I’ve been mourning Wallace’s departure, but am so glad to see they’ve published an excerpt from his last work! Heading over to read the full article now… 😉

  2. andreadupree
    March 7, 2009

    It’s a long one, Denise, between the profile and the excerpt! I’m still working through them and had to shift to the hardcopy for my sanity. Let me know what you think!

  3. Joy Sawyer
    March 8, 2009

    Just read the New Yorker piece last night, Andrea. So glad to see you posted this…I continue to be sad over the loss of him. Sweet, sweet brave soul. I’m looking forward to the new work of his that’s scheduled for April…about compassion.

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This entry was posted on March 2, 2009 by in Good Books, The Scoop, The Write Idea.

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