Luke Franklin'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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Oct 25, 12

Read in October, 2012

I don't believe that I like literary biography all that much, since it never seems to be as interesting as autobiography or memoir (whether Nabokov, whose Speak, Memory is still the greatest and strangest of the genre, or Mary Karr,Mark Twain or Nelson Mandela, or whatever, not ghostwritten political memoirs) where the pretense of objectivity is dropped. Though I haven't read Boswell on Johnson. D. T. Max's work is highly empathic and well-researched, though the notes and citations are consigned to the back so that the work doesn't appear too academic for the average reader. Since anyone likely to be interested in this book knows the general outline, a lot of the worth lies in Max's presentation of how Wallace perceived his work in public and private and how that contrasted with his purported aims, his torturous creative process, and documentation of how recovery drove much of Wallace's work, rather than being a device or conceit, like I thought when I read Infinite Jest long ago, before I understood anything about addiction and/or stuff. Mostly made me want to read his work again, and read for the first time what I haven't. And to try to be an excellent writer, but let's be serious here. Also, apparently Wallace was a prophet, which I'm willing to buy disregarding the possibility of hindsight bias: predicting/demanding the New Sincerity in American fiction (or heck, in pop music, remember them up-to-Illinois Sufjan Stevens days?), wrote a cybernovel before the interweb became ubiquitous, or whatever's more than "ubiquitous," and probably some other things I'm forgetting. I also now have "pulchritudinous, big, miniscule, misspelled" written on my fridge, and it makes me grin. While the writing is fine, it also reads exactly like a New Yorker (Max's magazine) article on length-steroids. You know what I mean.
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