Ed has collected the thoughts of numerous folks for a nice remembrance of David Foster Wallace. I especially liked what Christopher Sorrentino had to say:
It does a disservice to Wallace and his work to remember it as a sustained exception to the “rule” pigeonholing postmodern work: that it is severely technical, devoted exclusively to games and to the algorithmic execution of formal steps. Time and again Wallace demonstrated that it is only through daring acts of creativity that we can be drawn into the human heart securely: via the questions he raised about the nature of storytelling; via his upending of reader’s expectations; and especially via his implicit condemnation of conventional narrative as the perfect formal delivery system for conventional wisdom. These approaches are not exceptional; rather, they go directly to the essence of the writing, and reading, experience.
It would be a further disservice if this great writer’s life, and career, were to become circumscribed, and defined, by his terrible death. Reading over the hasty hagiographic tributes which have appeared since Saturday night, many of which include ickily fannish scanning of Wallace’s works and public utterances for clues to his ultimate intentions, it seems to me that such tributes don’t appear to be the product of true “reading” at all. Wallace would have wanted such romantic horseshit shunted to the side — shredded and burned, if possible. Wallace wrote for the same reasons any writer does: to launch his preoccupations on the tar sea of composition, and to be read. That he is read, and even revered, has always struck me as a reason for hope — I gather that, tragically, it didn’t strike him the same way. Yet his output is not a 3,000 page suicide note, and even in the darkest corners of these fecund and exuberant works we can find no more evidence of the suicidally depressed individual Wallace evidently became than we can detect the impoverished and out-of-favor Mozart in his own exuberant late works.
He was the best we had. In perpetuum, frater, ave atque vale.