Sunday, September 14, 2008

WHAT IS IT...about authors who possess such great insight, clarity and wit, that they die so young--usually by their own hand? I'm thinking of John Kennedy O'Toole (A Confederacy of Dunces), and many others....the latest:
David Foster Wallace.
Prayers to his family and friends and to his students, who were fortunate to have had a wonderful teacher in their lives.
See brief bio, below.
Novelist David Foster Wallace found dead
David Foster Wallace, the author best known for his 1996 novel "Infinite Jest," was found dead in his home, according to police. He was 46.
Wallace's wife found her husband had hanged himself when she returned home about 9:30 p.m. Friday, said Jackie Morales, a records clerk with the Claremont Police Department.
Wallace taught creative writing and English at nearby Pomona College.
"He cared deeply for his students and transformed the lives of many young people," said Dean Gary Kates. "It's a great loss to our teaching faculty."
Wallace's first novel, "The Broom of the System," gained national attention in 1987 for its ambition and offbeat humor. The New York Times said the 24-year-old author "attempts to give us a portrait, through a combination of Joycean word games, literary parody and zany picaresque adventure, of a contemporary America run amok."
Published in 1996, "Infinite Jest" cemented Wallace's reputation as a major American literary figure. The 1,000-plus-page tome, praised for its complexity and dark wit, topped many best-of lists. Time Magazine named "Infinite Jest" in its issue of the "100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005."
Wallace received a "genius grant" from the MacArthur Foundation in 1997.
In 2002, Wallace was hired to teach at Pomona in a tenured English Department position endowed by Roy E. Disney. Kates said when the school began searching for the ideal candidate, Wallace was the first person considered.
"The committee said, 'we need a person like David Foster Wallace.' They said that in the abstract," Kates said. "When he was approached and accepted, they were heads over heels. He was really the ideal person for the position."
Wallace's short fiction was published in Esquire, GQ, Harper's, The New Yorker and the Paris Review. Collections of his short stories were published as "Girl With Curious Hair" and "Brief Interviews With Hideous Men."
He wrote nonfiction for several publications, including an essay on the U.S. Open for Tennis magazine and a profile of the director David Lynch for Premiere.
Born in Ithaca, N.Y., Wallace attended Amherst College and the University of Arizona.
What a huge loss. Not just in terms of his literary greatness, but by all accounts, he was a loving husband, and kind, generous teacher and human being. What's that line in "Vincent", the song about Van Gogh?
"....This world was never meant for one as beautiful as you."
Lesson here: Tell the people in your life how much you love them. If they still seem troubled, get them help. Fast.
Peace, kids.


Anonymous said...

It is tragic when people who have such an incredible talent die by their own hand. But they feel things so deeply that sometimes I think they just can't stand it anymore. I still weep for the poet Anne Sexton. I wish I could have helped her.....

Lisa Allender said...

Hi Selma--I'm surely with you on that. Brilliant life, brillant poet. The world is surely dimmer, with all these candles extinguished....