My Season of David Foster Wallace

Throughout my life I have traveled along the edges of the work of David Foster Wallace. Repeatedly I have read his work, become engrossed, become numb to life, and had to pull away so that the intense and honest negative thoughts could be shoved back down inside of me, or be balanced with hope and joy. It’s a matter of survival. Sometimes when I read the words of Wallace I feel that if  I had his level of vocabulary, and ability to pull back from my own life to clearly identify reality- I could’ve written them myself.

I attempted to read his Infinite Jest (often described as the most difficult title written in the English language), with my book club a few years back and was greatly impacted by the characters, their lives, and struggles.  Although there was not one character that I could directly relate to, Wallace grinds through to the core of these people and what is at the center of them are the base needs, desires, fears and emotions that everyone has. As someone with leanings towards deep thoughts and intense compassion (often to a fault), his graphic honesty can be overwhelming.

Reading David Foster Wallace’s entire body of work is a major undertaking as he was a prolific writer. His work can be combed through repeatedly and upon each visit readers will glean nuances of character and profundity previously unseen. As with all great art, each piece reads differently each time it is approached as the reader is always coming to the piece with new experience and wisdom.

I have decided to intersperse my readings of DFW with other, lighter and gentler writings in an attempt to experience more of his work without being consumed by it. Wallace took his own life in his 46th year. He could not overcome the constant thrumming of his mind and his eternal feelings of loneliness. These are issues that I have struggled with, but my hope is to finish reading his work during my 46th year and to live boldly beyond it.

I’m using my blog not only to share some of his insight, ideas, and quotes but also to hold myself accountable to stay steadfast to this goal and to stay in a public discourse about these ideas, rather than let them consume my mind. I’ll also be reading several biographical, tribute and analytical pieces about his writing and life.

There is a season for everything and Spring 2018 will be my season of David Foster Wallace.

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