Max'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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Sep 17, 12

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bookshelves: biography
Read in September, 2012

Mixed feelings about this. D.T. definitely did his homework, and I'm glad someone took the time to follow up on all the loose strands DFW left behind, because one of the most interesting things about this book is finding out the extent to which DFW misrepresented and exaggerated aspects of his life in his published work (and even in his correspondence).

Still, this book has a distinctly rushed-to-press feeling, especially in the second half. The book revolves around Infinite Jest (much like DFW's reputation), and while it was great to get lots of background information on one of my favorite novels, I was disappointed by how fast the book started moving after the publication of IJ. I was a bit more interested in DFW's struggles around The Pale King, and there wasn't as much in the book about them as I would have liked.

Of course, I'm bound to have a somewhat negative feeling about this book, because it definitely felt kind of gross confronting DFW as an ultimately unlikeable and kind of horrible human being. Still, I feel that this aspect of the book is actually its greatest strength. The cult that's grown up around DFW (his commencement speech in particular) is highly troubling, and I think his image needs a bit of deflating amongst members of my generation. For all his moralizing, DFW was in many ways a horrible person, and while it feels gross to read about his petulant and often abusive behavior towards women, it's a story that needed to be told. Considering DFW was never one to flinch away from the nasty aspects of the human experience, I don't think he would have objected.
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