Christopher's Reviews > Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace

Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story by D.T. Max
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's review
Nov 01, 12

bookshelves: 21st-century, american, non-fiction
Read from October 25 to 31, 2012

Outline for review of D.T. Max's Every Love Story is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace

I. Introduction

A. Witty opening line. Grab everyone's attention.

B. Thesis statement: There is no reason to read this book.

II. Body ¶1: My thoughts on/knowledge of DFW pre-this book.

A. He was a tortured genius, suffering from major depression.

i) Among other personality maladies - crippling anxiety.

B. His brilliant novel Infinite Jest has influenced everything I've read since I read it six months ago.

III. Body ¶2: What I learned from Love Story.

A. Not much.

i) Love Story spends most of its pages reviewing the same concepts: DFW was a brilliant thinker and writer and theorist, but he had these demons inside of him that made it hard to get his brilliant ideas and writings out of his head and onto the page.

B. DFW was a womanizer.

i) It's hard to keep track of his girlfriends, much less his one-night stands.

ii) "Audience pussy".

C. Various details of the publishing business I did not need to know.

IV. Body ¶3: Disillusionment!

A. The wisdom present in DFW's novels is not present in his own life. He is no Dalai Lama.

i) Does this affect my reading of his novels?

B. The characters and events in his novels are very present in his own life.

i) Does finding out that there's a real person who closely resembles Don Gately make Don Gately less magical?

V. Body ¶4: The structure of this biography is frustrating.

A. The entire book assumes and points toward DFW's suicide.

i) This effectively takes the joy out of the author's life. The book's main focus seems not to be DFW's genius, but his foreshadowed death.

B. The book ends suddenly with DFW's suicide. There is no discussion of his legacy or the later publishing of his unfinished novel The Pale King, etc.

i) See (V.A.i) above.

VI. Body ¶5: But it's not all bad, really.

A. This makes me more excited to read The Pale King.

i) Where Infinite Jest investigates entertainment in the modern age, The Pale King investigates its inverse, boredom.

B. But that's mostly all the good stuff.

VII. Conclusion

A. Again, there's really no need to read this.

i) It will possibly disillusion you.

ii) It's unsatisfying content- and structure-wise.

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Reading Progress

10/25/2012 page 50
10/29/2012 page 177
49.0% 1 comment
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Comments (showing 1-13 of 13) (13 new)

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Jennifer D RIGHT??!?

message 2: by s.penkevich (new) - added it

s.penkevich Super excited for this. Already pre-ordered ha. That and his new collection of unpublished essays.

Christopher New collection of unpublished essays?! That's news to me! Other than a couple I came across on the internet, I've not read any of his nonfiction. But I went into a youtube rabbit hole the other night watching him talk. He's definitely a better writer than talker, but he's always intriguing.

message 4: by s.penkevich (new) - added it

s.penkevich Both Flesh and Not: Essays
Yeah, I love all those interviews. He seems very shy and self-conscious, but it was rather endearing. There was one where he kept apologizing for not answering all that well after giving a huge insightful examination of Lynch. I wondered how brilliant his thoughts must be when he is disastisfied with the brillance he is able to articulate.

message 5: by Alex (new)

Alex Thanks for reading this so I don't have to!

Christopher Haha! My pleasure... or frustration, rather...

Jennifer D i'm still keen to read this. and pale king. :)

message 8: by Chance (new) - added it

Chance Maree Love your review's format! Will read Pale King instead. Thanks!

Christopher Jennifer wrote: "i'm still keen to read this. and pale king. :)"

Yeah, don't let me stop you. It's a quick read and pretty well written still, just don't expect any revelations.

Chance wrote: "Love your review's format! Will read Pale King instead. Thanks!"

Thanks! I'm really looking forward to it now too.

Jennifer D yeah, i had read somewhere else that it wasn't terribly revelatory. but...i am still eager to read pretty much everything by dfw and about dfw. :/

message 11: by Steve (new)

Steve I'd heard similar so-so to negative things from other people about this one. Thanks for substantiating. I'm guessing you'll like Lipsky's extended interview / road trip with DFW a lot more:

A bit of his anxiety was on display, but whole lot more of his gifts were, too.

Christopher Yeah, I'll probably do that one sometime, Steve. The best parts of this book were the quotes of DFW, so I shoulda just read what you suggest!

message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

I've been living with clinical depression with major episodes for a little less than 20 years now and from that standpoint I can say that trying to analyze dfw, why and how what he wrote didn't necessarily align with his personal life is useless and a waste of time. This amazing man earned all the praise he will ever receive because he managed to write and publish such monumental book at all. Only the very special and gifted ones manage such a feat while living the torments of this crippling illness. David's personal life and his action will remain for the most part incomprehensible for healthy people and there's no amount of books about him that'll change that. Let's just enjoy and appreciate and even criticize what dfw created despite the odds. A fun review Christopher, btw :p

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