Editer l'article Suivre ce blog Administration + Créer mon blog
(please follow) the golden path

Llittérature, films, séries, musique, etc.

on dfw

Publié le 15 Septembre 2008 par F/.

From Bruce Weber's piece at the New York Times - Books:

His father said Sunday that Mr. Wallace had been taking medication for depression for 20 years and that it had allowed his son to be productive. It was something the writer didn't discuss, though in interviews he gave a hint of his haunting angst.


 James Wallace said that last year his son had begun suffering side effects from the drugs and, at a doctor's suggestion, had gone off the medication in June 2007. The depression returned, however, and no other treatment was successful. The elder Wallaces had seen their son in August, he said.

"He was being very heavily medicated," he said. "He'd been in the hospital a couple of times over the summer and had undergone electro-convulsive therapy. Everything had been tried, and he just couldn't stand it anymore."

From the Cosmopolis website :

News of David Foster Wallace's suicide comes as a shock, although I have a feeling it will soon begin to seem inevitable. A writer who kills himself at the age of 46, to paraphrase Walter Benjamin, becomes a writer who was always destined to kill himself at age 46. All DFW's work will be read retrospectively with knowledge of his end, as if it were ordained. (If I were Wallace, I'd have a footnote here referring to Hart Crane, Sylvia Plath and John Kennedy Toole, whose company he now joins.)

Wallace and I were in only intermittent touch recently, but I assumed he was on an even keel -- writing prolifically, recently married, happily teaching. I guess not. He could document his troubles in Infinite Jest, a work of fiction so brilliant you often find yourself putting it down just to breathe, but he could not, in the end, escape them. 

Already I hear editors making phone calls, clearing space in the November issue, the writers jockeying for position to interview those left behind to record The Suicide of America's Most Brilliant Writer, and how Everything Wasn't Enough, how He Fought His Demons but They Finally Triumphed. It may even be true. But Wallace would have hated it anyway. He dodged the press--when the LA Times sent a writer out to Claremont he declined to talk--and kept his private life as private as he could.  

He was a good friend, in all senses of the word. I was once having some woman trouble -- my girlfriend, a poet, had run away, big melodrama, I was angry and stricken. Here's what will happen, he said. She will call and beg to come back, and tell you this time it will all be different, she's changed, she's better now. And when you hear that, let me know, and I'll tie you to a chair so you can't answer the door.And so a few weeks later, right on schedule, she did call, and say, this time it will be different, I'm so sorry, I want to come back. I took her back, and it didn't work out, which only proved Wallace was right.

 "I had a thing for mad poets for a while," he wrote in an email. "Got tired. Karen is a painter, and also works as a stylist for photographers, and once taught tapdancing to the whole cast of Cheers. My brush with greatness."

I like the sentiment at the Howling Fantods, a DFW fan site: "I never made an effort to contact him, in fact, I actively avoided it. This seemed to be the right thing to do in the light of all I knew about David Foster Wallace. I don't know where I am going with this."  

Writers. They always break your heart.



More from Cosmopolis.

Don DeLillo was David Foster Wallace's hero and mentor. Some day a fine book will be made out of their correspondence. When I first visited Wallace in Normal, Ill., a few months before Infinite Jest was published in 1996, he had letters from DeLillo taped to the cabinets in his kitchen -- the better to reread as he heated up a can of soup for dinner, I guess. (I told him this was going to be perfect fodder for anyone who came to interview him, and he immediately took them down.)

DeLillo, like Gaddis before him, was a prospector mining a lot of the same territory as Wallace. How to hold onto your humanity in the age of technology, for one. "I believed we could know what was happening to us," says Nick in DeLillo's "Underworld." "We were not excluded from our own lives." Wallace loved that passage.

The nexus of fame and commerce, for another. "The market is a strange thing, almost a living organism," comments the crazy, unsuccessful writer in "Great Jones Street," DeLillo's 1973 novel about paranoia, rock music and the ravages of fame. "It changes, it palpitates, it grows, it excretes. It sucks things in and then spews them up. It's a living wheel that turns and crackles. The market accepts and rejects. It loves and kills."

Wallace was determined to resist this. He wanted to be read, but didn't want to be a star. He had trouble with fans. He would mumble and move on. He was interested in a lot of things, but really believed only in a few, starting with fiction. Fiction, he once said, is "one of the few experiences where loneliness can be both confronted and relieved. Drugs, movies where stuff blows up, loud parties -- all these chase away loneliness by making me forget my name's Dave and I live in a one-by-one box of bone no other party can penetrate or know. Fiction, poetry, music, really deep serious sex, and, in various ways, religion -- these are the places (for me) where loneliness is countenanced, stared down, transfigured, treated." Maybe he asked too much of fiction. Maybe it failed him in the end, and there was nothing left. He always knew that survival was a random thing. Witness the scene in one of the stories in "Hideous Men," where there's Pop Quiz #4:

"Two late-stage terminal drug addicts sat up against an alley's wall with nothing to inject and no means and nowhere to go or be. Only one had a coat. It was cold, and one of the terminal drug addicts' teeth chattered and he sweated and shook with fever. He seemed gravely ill. He smelled very bad. He sat up against the wall with his head on his knees. "This took place in Cambridge MA in an alley behind the Commonwealth Aluminum Can Redemption Center on Massachusetts Avenue in the early hours of 12 January 1993. The terminal drug addict with the coat took off the coat and scooted over up close to the gravely ill terminal drug addict and took and spread the coat as far as it would go over the both of them and then scooted over some more and got himself pressed right up against him and put his arm around him and let him be sick on his arm, and they stayed like that up against the wall together all through the night. "Q.: Which one lived."

The last time I saw Wallace in public was at an event in San Francisco in 2003 or thereabouts with Rick Moody. It was billed as a conversation between the two, but all the questions came from Wallace, which wasn't what the crowd wanted. They wanted answers from their hero.

He explained later: "I was told that the event, which was part of Moody's book tour, would consist of me 'interviewing' him, rather than conversing. He was told this, too. Apparently, neither the City Arts and Lectures people nor the audience were told this. The bizarreness, then, of me asking Qs the whole time was just one part of what was, I thought, a slow-mo train wreck. The whole thing felt stilted and fake. It is my last such event."

I teased him, asking who was telling him all this, the voices in his head?

"The 'voices' were the publicity ladies from Little, Brown; it was all set up months in advance. My private voices have much more interesting stuff to talk about than what's a book tour and what isn't, trust me."


Commenter cet article
merci fab