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David Foster Wallace: A churchgoin' man.

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I'm reading Consider the Lobster, a book of essays by the greatest essayist of our time (the name of whom, I hope, you can glean from the subject line). And his 9-11 work from that book, "The View from Mrs. Thompson's," Wallace — surprisingly to me, since I've never heard him discuss Christianity before — writes:

"The church I belong to is on the south side of Bloomington, [illinois,] near where my house is. Most of the people I know well enough to ask if I can come over and watch their TV are members of my church. It's not one of those churches where people throw Jesus' name around a lot or talk about the End Times, but it's fairly serious, and people in the congregation get to know each other well and to be pretty tight. As far as I know, all the congregants are natives of the area. Most are working-class or retired from same. There are some small-business owners. A fair number are veterans and/or have kids in the military or — especially — in the reserves, because for many of these families that's what you do to pay for college.

"The house I end up sitting with shampoo in my hair watching most of the actual unfolding Horror at belongs to Mrs. Thompson...Mrs. Thompson is a long-time member and a leader in the congregation, and her living room tends to be kind of a gathering place."

Just an interesting fillip.

Dale

Edited by M. Dale Prins

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I'm reading Consider the Lobster, a book of essays by the greatest essayist of our time (the name of whom, I hope, you can glean from the subject line). And his 9-11 work from that book, "The View from Mrs. Thompson's," Wallace

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Link to the second thread on David Foster Wallace.

Karina Longworth reports that he was found dead of an apparent suicide, at age 46. She links to this article he wrote for Premiere on a set visit to David Lynch's Lost Highway, and calls it "the greatest set visit story of all time."

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Two years almost to the day that Andy posted that appreciation, Peter posts this.

Wow.

I enjoyed Wallace's essays very much. Haven't read any of his books yet, but the essays were enough to impress me with his talents.

Edited by Overstreet

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Link to the second thread on David Foster Wallace.

Karina Longworth reports that he was found dead of an apparent suicide, at age 46. She links to this article he wrote for Premiere on a set visit to David Lynch's Lost Highway, and calls it "the greatest set visit story of all time."

Oh, no. I am going to be bummed out for quite some time.

Edit: This is just devastating news. The word "genius" is overused, but Wallace was a literary genius, the kind of writer who comes along about once every generation. His books were astounding, and he was the kind of stylist who could simply dazzle with his use of language. Many, many times I've stopped in the midst of his works and gone back to re-read a page or two, not because I didn't get it the first time, but because I wanted to go back and savor the beauty of not just a word, and not just a phrase, but the entire vision of a literary kamikaze whose sense of playfulness was matched only by his compassionate heart. Unlike many post-mods, who are all technique and no substance, Wallace wrestled with the deepest issues, and he unfailingly brought honesty and beauty to the process.

For me, this is a cultural loss akin to Bob Dylan. These folks don't come along every day. They don't come along every decade, either. I feel like I've lost a friend.

Edited by Andy Whitman

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My QPB copy of Infinite Jest sat on my shelf nearly 10 years before I unloaded it as part of a white elephant gift exchange a year or two ago. I included with the book a printout of Time magazine's top 100 novels of ... the 20th century? all time? I can't remember ... on which Infinite Jest appeared. I'd always wanted to read the novel, but after years of not getting to it, thought it would be best to pass it to someone else who might enjoy it. The guy who opened the gift tried to look pleasantly surprised, but I sensed that he'd be regifting it soon. Who knows where it might be today. I can always grab a copy at the library if the spirit moves me.

The only thing I've read by Wallace was his cover story on talk radio a few years ago in the Atlantic. It was a dud.

Edited by Christian

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My QPB copy of Infinite Jest sat on my shelf nearly 10 years before I unloaded it as part of a white elephant gift exchange a year or two ago. I included with the book a printout of Time magazine's top 100 novels of ... the 20th century? all time? I can't remember ... on which Infinite Jest appeared. I'd always wanted to read the novel, but after years of not getting to it, thought it would be best to pass it to someone else who might enjoy it. The guy who opened the gift tried to look pleasantly surprised, but I sensed that he'd be regifting it soon. Who knows where it might be today. I can always grab a copy at the library if the spirit moves me.

The only thing I've read by Wallace was his cover story on talk radio a few years ago in the Atlantic. It was a dud.

Infinite Jest is the best novel I've read in the past twenty years.

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My QPB copy of Infinite Jest sat on my shelf nearly 10 years before I unloaded it as part of a white elephant gift exchange a year or two ago. I included with the book a printout of Time magazine's top 100 novels of ... the 20th century? all time? I can't remember ... on which Infinite Jest appeared. I'd always wanted to read the novel, but after years of not getting to it, thought it would be best to pass it to someone else who might enjoy it. The guy who opened the gift tried to look pleasantly surprised, but I sensed that he'd be regifting it soon. Who knows where it might be today. I can always grab a copy at the library if the spirit moves me.

The only thing I've read by Wallace was his cover story on talk radio a few years ago in the Atlantic. It was a dud.

Infinite Jest is the best novel I've read in the past twenty years.

Dang! I decided to hang onto my copy of Don Delillo's Underworld but unload Infinite Jest. Both are fat, and were taking up precious space on my bookshelves. I have no plans to read Underworld. Maybe I should pass it along as well.

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My QPB copy of Infinite Jest sat on my shelf nearly 10 years before I unloaded it as part of a white elephant gift exchange a year or two ago. I included with the book a printout of Time magazine's top 100 novels of ... the 20th century? all time? I can't remember ... on which Infinite Jest appeared. I'd always wanted to read the novel, but after years of not getting to it, thought it would be best to pass it to someone else who might enjoy it. The guy who opened the gift tried to look pleasantly surprised, but I sensed that he'd be regifting it soon. Who knows where it might be today. I can always grab a copy at the library if the spirit moves me.

The only thing I've read by Wallace was his cover story on talk radio a few years ago in the Atlantic. It was a dud.

Infinite Jest is the best novel I've read in the past twenty years.

Dang! I decided to hang onto my copy of Don Delillo's Underworld but unload Infinite Jest. Both are fat, and were taking up precious space on my bookshelves. I have no plans to read Underworld. Maybe I should pass it along as well.

Not sure why you're so hostile, but perhaps you should.

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Dang! I decided to hang onto my copy of Don Delillo's Underworld but unload Infinite Jest. Both are fat, and were taking up precious space on my bookshelves. I have no plans to read Underworld. Maybe I should pass it along as well.

Or maybe you should just knuckle down and read it, Christian. Underworld is a great book. Maybe I'm different, but

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The first thought I had when I heard David Foster Wallace died was the bit I quoted that started this thread. The second thought I had was from the commencement speech that Andy linked to two years ago:

Think of the old clich

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The first thought I had when I heard David Foster Wallace died was the bit I quoted that started this thread. The second thought I had was from the commencement speech that Andy linked to two years ago:

Think of the old clich
Edited by Andy Whitman

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I am so sad to think that I may be the only person in my church mourning the death of David Foster Wallace (partially because few Christians have even heard of him). If there are others, I would truly like to know them.

What a brilliant man, and as fans and commentators often pointed out, he didn't just have an incredible mind-- he also had compassion and empathy for others that is clear throughout his writing. He mentioned, in a quote above, that his church is not the kind to throw around the name of Jesus very much. Oh, how I hope that Wallace truly knew Jesus... I hope that so, so much.

Edited by Truetruth

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One of the blogs at The New Republic has a list full of links to a lot of Wallace's articles, essays, and fiction that are online.

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McSweeney's has a long, long list of DFW reminiscences and tributes, some from writers you know, some from people you've never heard of who had chance encounters with the man. All of them are worth reading, and all of them highlight why the world -- literary and otherwise -- is a poorer, sadder place without him.

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The Believer has recently posted an interesting interview from 2003.

"Watching O’Reilly v. Franken is watching bloodsport. How can any of this possibly help me, the average citizen, deliberate about whom to choose to decide my country’s macroeconomic policy, or how even to conceive for myself what that policy’s outlines should be, or how to minimize the chances of North Korea nuking the DMZ and pulling us into a ghastly foreign war, or how to balance domestic security concerns with civil liberties? Questions like these are all massively complicated, and much of the complication is not sexy, and well over 90 percent of political commentary now simply abets the uncomplicatedly sexy delusion that one side is Right and Just and the other Wrong and Dangerous."

Edited by MLeary

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God bless The Onion:

Shock, grief, and the overwhelming sense of loss that has swept the stock car racing community following the death by apparent suicide of writer David Foster Wallace has moved NASCAR to cancel the remainder of its 2008 season in respect for the acclaimed but troubled author of Infinite Jest, A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, and Brief Interviews With Hideous Men.

In deference to the memory of Wallace, whose writing on alienation, sadness, and corporate sponsorship made him the author of the century in stock car racing circles and whom NASCAR chairman Brian France called "perhaps the greatest American writer to emerge in recent memory, and definitely our most human," officials would not comment on how points, and therefore this year's championship, would be determined.

At least for the moment, drivers found it hard to think about the Sprint Cup.

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I'm not the biggest fan of Rolling Stone and haven't been for many years, but the latest issue has an incredible (though heartbreaking in parts) article of some length on David Foster Wallace that sheds much light on the brilliance and the struggles of the man. All who loved, and who still love, his work should read this article. I'm going to buy the issue just for this one great piece of writing.

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I'm not the biggest fan of Rolling Stone and haven't been for many years, but the latest issue has an incredible (though heartbreaking in parts) article of some length on David Foster Wallace that sheds much light on the brilliance and the struggles of the man. All who loved, and who still love, his work should read this article. I'm going to buy the issue just for this one great piece of writing.

I read it this morning also. So very sad. I tend to forget that our literary heroes are so very human.

I also read Shipping Out for the first time in a decade. The jokes are the best part.

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Clicking through some of the sites I regularly read, I came across this appreciation of Wallace.

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David Foster Wallace came to me in a dream the other night. An unspecified friend of mine and I went to a reading he was giving, at which I realized that he had recently died, so the reading was impossible, a fact which he grimly acknowledged. He told me that he'd mostly come to speak to my friend, but that if I had any questions, I could ask them. I wanted to ask him whether there was a God, but for some reason I couldn't form my mouth around the word. So I started asking something long, complicated and hopefully impressive about universal consciousness and ultimate meaning, and he stopped me and simply told me everything was going to be all right. I decided I trusted him on that particular point.

All inspired, I guess, by the fact that I recently finished Oblivion, and especially "Good Old Neon," which is similarly predicated on a perspective from beyond the grave, and which is maybe my favorite of the stories, second to "The Soul is Not a Smithy." Oblivion was a frustrating read, at times, when the whole thing began to feel like an exercise in David Foster Wallace proving his cleverness to me -- which was abundantly clear, and no I don't need another forty pages of pitch-perfect focus-group-speak. But I was always drawn back in by the way he manages to be so merciless and yet so warm. He does not spare these characters their most pathetic qualities, and good God there is a wealth to draw on, but somehow that never results in condescension. Their desperation is seen as universal, and so it is fondly treated. Wallace really was a remarkable man and a remarkable humanist. There are very few people from whom the reassurance that everything will be all right would mean more.

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he manages to be so merciless and yet so warm.

This is well put. There are times that Raymond Carver achieved the same sensibility, but this compassion seemed to be a moral obligation to DFW.

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All inspired, I guess, by the fact that I recently finished Oblivion, and especially "Good Old Neon," which is similarly predicated on a perspective from beyond the grave, and which is maybe my favorite of the stories

"Good Old Neon" is such a graceful story. It was, for me, one of those moments when you realize that there are other people who feel the exact same way that you do--which is ironic, given that that's what the story's about. I don't understand how Wallace did what he did, how he could hold something under his thumb for so long and remain so soulful. I don't know what it was in his words, but you can almost taste it.

I love this quote from him:

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I haven't read it yet, but this week's New Yorker published a David Foster Wallace short story titled "Backbone."

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Time gives a strange rave to Wallace's posthumous The Pale King.

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