David Foster Wallace

in Ithaca, New York, The United States
February 21, 1962

September 12, 2008




David Foster Wallace worked surprising turns on nearly everything: novels, journalism, vacation. His life was an information hunt, collecting hows and whys. "I received 500,000 discrete bits of information today," he once said, "of which maybe 25 are important. My job is to make some sense of it." He wanted to write "stuff about what it feels like to live. Instead of being a relief from what it feels like to live." Readers curled up in the nooks and clearings of his style: his comedy, his brilliance, his humaneness.

His life was a map that ends at the wrong destination. Wallace was an A student through high school, he played football, he played tennis, he wrote a philosophy thesis and a novel before he graduated from Amherst, he went to writ

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“The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill herself doesn’t do so out of quote ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life’s assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom Its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It’s not desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flames. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling ‘Don’t!’ and ‘Hang on!’, can understand the jump. Not really. You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling.”
David Foster Wallace

“Everybody is identical in their secret unspoken belief that way deep down they are different from everyone else.”
David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest

“I do things like get in a taxi and say, "The library, and step on it.”
David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest


Fourth Quarter 2014 Long Read

1862, Les Misérables by Victor Hugo, 1463 pages
  35 votes, 20.3%

  25 votes, 14.5%

1954, The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, 1178 pages
  23 votes, 13.4%

1872, Middlemarch by George Eliot, 904 pages
  20 votes, 11.6%

  17 votes, 9.9%

800 BC, The Iliad by Homer, 683 pages
  11 votes, 6.4%

1874, The Mysterious Island by Jules Verne, 723 pages
  11 votes, 6.4%

1957, Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, 1168 pages
  9 votes, 5.2%

1993, A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth, 1474 pages
  8 votes, 4.7%

1996, Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace, 1079 pages
  7 votes, 4.1%

  5 votes, 2.9%

  1 vote, 0.6%


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