David Foster Wallace
|Born||February 21, 1962|
Ithaca, New York, U.S.
|Died||September 12, 2008 46) (aged|
Claremont, California, U.S.
|Education|| Amherst College (BA)|
University of Arizona (MFA)
(PhD in Philosophy (did not graduate))
|Notable works||Infinite Jest (1996)|
David Foster Wallace (February 21, 1962 – September 12, 2008) was an American author of novels, short stories and essays, and a university professor of English and creative writing. Wallace is widely known for his 1996 novel Infinite Jest , which Time magazine cited as one of the 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to 2005. 's David Ulin called Wallace "one of the most influential and innovative writers of the last twenty years".His posthumous novel, The Pale King (2011), was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2012. The Los Angeles Times
Wallace grew up in Illinois and attended Amherst College. He taught English at Emerson College, Illinois State University, and Pomona College. In 2008, he died by suicide at age 46 after struggling with depression for many years.
David Foster Wallace was born in Ithaca, New York, to Sally Jean Wallace ( née Foster) and James Donald Wallace, and was raised in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois along with his younger sister, Amy Wallace-Havens. From fourth grade, Wallace lived with his family in Urbana, where he attended Yankee Ridge Elementary School and Urbana High School.[ citation needed ] His father was a philosophy professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. His mother was an English professor at Parkland College, a community college in Champaign, which recognized her work with a "Professor of the Year" award in 1996.[ citation needed ]
As an adolescent, Wallace was a regionally ranked junior tennis player, an experience he wrote about in the essay "Derivative Sport in Tornado Alley", originally published in Harper's Magazine as "Tennis, Trigonometry, Tornadoes". Although his parents were atheists, Wallace twice attempted to join the Catholic Church, but "flunk[ed] the period of inquiry"; he later attended a Mennonite church.
Wallace attended Amherst College, his father's alma mater, where he majored in English and philosophy and graduated summa cum laude in 1985. Among other extracurricular activities, he participated in glee club; his sister recalls that he "had a lovely singing voice".In studying philosophy, Wallace pursued modal logic and mathematics, and presented a senior thesis in philosophy and modal logic that was awarded the Gail Kennedy Memorial Prize and posthumously published as Fate, Time, and Language: An Essay on Free Will (2011).
By the time he graduated, with his honors thesis in English becoming the manuscript of his first novel, The Broom of the System (1987),Wallace had committed to being a writer. He told David Lipsky: "Writing [The Broom of the System], I felt like I was using ninety-seven percent of me, whereas philosophy was using fifty percent." Wallace completed a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing at the University of Arizona in 1987. He then moved to Massachusetts to attend graduate school to study philosophy at Harvard University, but soon left the program.
In the early 1990s, Wallace was in a relationship with writer Mary Karr. She later described Wallace as obsessive about her and said the relationship was volatile, with Wallace once throwing a coffee table at her and once forcing her out of a car, leaving her to walk home. T. Max underreported Wallace's abuse. Of Max's account of their relationship, she tweeted, "That's about 2% of what happened." She said that he kicked her, climbed up the side of her house at night and followed her 5-year-old son home from school. Several scholars and writers noted that Max's biography did, in fact, cover the abuse and did not ignore the allegations Karr later reiterated on Twitter.She said that Wallace's biographer D.
In 2002, Wallace met the painter Karen L. Green, whom he married on December 27, 2004.
Wallace struggled with depression, alcoholism, drug addiction, and suicidal tendencies, with recurrent psychiatric hospitalizations. In 1989, he spent four weeks at McLean Hospital—a psychiatric institute in Belmont, Massachusetts, affiliated with the Harvard Medical School—where he successfully completed a drug and alcohol detox program. He later said his time there changed his life.
Dogs were important to Wallace,and he spoke of opening a shelter for stray canines. According to his friend Jonathan Franzen, he "had a predilection for dogs who'd been abused, and [were] unlikely to find other owners who were going to be patient enough for them".
The Broom of the System (1987) garnered national attention and critical praise. In The New York Times, Caryn James called it a "manic, human, flawed extravaganza … emerging straight from the excessive tradition of Stanley Elkin's The Franchiser, Thomas Pynchon's V. , [and] John Irving's World According to Garp ".
In 1991, Wallace began teaching literature as an adjunct professor at Emerson College in Boston. The next year, at the suggestion of colleague and supporter Steven Moore, Wallace obtained a position in the English department at Illinois State University. He had begun work on his second novel, Infinite Jest , in 1991, and submitted a draft to his editor in December 1993. After the publication of excerpts throughout 1995, the book was published in 1996.
In 1997, Wallace received a MacArthur Fellowship, as well as the Aga Khan Prize for Fiction, awarded by editors of The Paris Review for one of the stories in Brief Interviews with Hideous Men which had appeared in the magazine.
In 2002, Wallace moved to Claremont, California, to become the first Roy E. Disney Professor of Creative Writing and Professor of English at Pomona College. He taught one or two undergraduate courses per semester and focused on writing.
Wallace delivered the commencement address to the 2005 graduating class at Kenyon College. The speech was published as a book, This Is Water , in 2009.In May 2013 parts of the speech were used in a popular online video, also titled "This Is Water".
Bonnie Nadell was Wallace's literary agent during his entire career.Michael Pietsch was his editor on Infinite Jest.
In March 2009, Little, Brown and Company announced that it would publish the manuscript of an unfinished novel, The Pale King , that Wallace had been working on before his death. Pietsch pieced the novel together from pages and notes Wallace left behind.Several excerpts were published in The New Yorker and other magazines. The Pale King was published on April 15, 2011, and received generally positive reviews. Michiko Kakutani of The New York Times wrote that The Pale King "showcases [Wallace's] embrace of discontinuity; his fascination with both the meta and the microscopic, postmodern pyrotechnics and old-fashioned storytelling; and his ongoing interest in contemporary America's obsession with self-gratification and entertainment." It was also nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.
Throughout his career, Wallace published short fiction in periodicals such as The New Yorker, GQ , Harper's Magazine , Playboy , The Paris Review, Mid-American Review , Conjunctions , Esquire , Open City , Puerto del Sol , and Timothy McSweeney's Quarterly Concern .
Wallace wanted to progress beyond the irony and metafiction associated with postmodernism; in the essay "E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction" (written 1990, published 1993),he proposed that television has an ironic influence on fiction, and urged literary authors to eschew TV's shallow rebelliousness: "I want to convince you that irony, poker-faced silence, and fear of ridicule are distinctive of those features of contemporary U.S. culture (of which cutting-edge fiction is a part) that enjoy any significant relation to the television whose weird, pretty hand has my generation by the throat. I'm going to argue that irony and ridicule are entertaining and effective, and that, at the same time, they are agents of a great despair and stasis in U.S. culture, and that, for aspiring fictionists, they pose terrifically vexing problems." Wallace used many forms of irony but tended to focus on individual persons' continued longing for earnest, unself-conscious experience and communication in a media-saturated society.
Wallace's fiction combines narrative modes and authorial voices that incorporate jargon and invented vocabulary, such as self-generated abbreviations and acronyms, long, multi-clause sentences, and an extensive use of explanatory endnotes and footnotes, as in Infinite Jest and the story "Octet" (collected in Brief Interviews with Hideous Men) and most of his non-fiction after 1996. In a 1997 interview on Charlie Rose , Wallace said that the notes were to disrupt the linear narrative, to reflect his perception of reality without jumbling the narrative structure, and that he could have jumbled the sentences "but then no one would read it".
Max has described Wallace's work as an "unusual mixture of the cerebral and the hot-blooded",often featuring multiple protagonists and spanning different locations in a single work. His writing comments on the fragmentation of thought, the relationship between happiness and boredom, and the psychological tension between the beauty and hideousness of the human body. According to Wallace, "fiction's about what it is to be a fucking human being", and he said he wanted to write "morally passionate, passionately moral fiction" that could help the reader "become less alone inside". In his Kenyon College commencement address, Wallace described the human condition as daily crises and chronic disillusionment and warned against succumbing to solipsism, invoking the existential values of compassion and mindfulness:
The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day. ... The only thing that's capital-T True is that you get to decide how you're going to try to see it. You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn't. ... The trick is keeping the truth up-front in daily consciousness.
Wallace covered Senator John McCain's 2000 presidential campaignand the September 11 attacks for Rolling Stone ; cruise ships (in what became the title essay of his first nonfiction book), state fairs, and tornadoes for Harper's Magazine ; the US Open tournament for Tennis magazine; the director David Lynch and the pornography industry for Premiere magazine; the tennis player Michael Joyce for Esquire ; the movie-special-effects industry for Waterstone's magazine; conservative talk radio host John Ziegler for The Atlantic ; and a Maine lobster festival for Gourmet magazine. He also reviewed books in several genres for the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post , The New York Times , and The Philadelphia Inquirer . In the November 2007 issue of The Atlantic, which commemorated the magazine's 150th anniversary, Wallace was among the authors, artists, politicians and others who wrote short pieces on "the future of the American idea".
These and other essays appear in three collections, A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, Consider the Lobster, and the posthumous Both Flesh and Not, the last of which contains some of Wallace's earliest work, including his first published essay, "Fictional Futures and the Conspicuously Young".
Some writers have found parts of Wallace's nonfiction implausible. Franzen has said that he believes Wallace made up dialogue and incidents: "those things didn't actually happen".John Cook has remarked that "Wallace encounters pitch-perfect characters who speak comedically crystalline lines and place him in hilariously absurd situations...I used both stories [in teaching journalism] as examples of the inescapable temptation to shave, embellish, and invent narratives".
Among the writers who have cited Wallace as an influence are Dave Eggers,Zadie Smith, Jonathan Franzen, Elizabeth Wurtzel, George Saunders, Rivka Galchen, John Green, Matthew Gallaway, David Gordon, Darin Strauss, Charles Yu, Porochista Khakpour, and Deb Olin Unferth.
Wallace's father said that David had suffered from major depressive disorder for more than 20 years and that antidepressant medication had allowed him to be productive.Wallace experienced what was believed to be a severe interaction of the medication with the food he had eaten one day at a restaurant, and in June 2007, he stopped taking phenelzine, his primary antidepressant drug, on his doctor's advice. His depression recurred, and he tried other treatments, including electroconvulsive therapy. Eventually he went back on phenelzine but found it ineffective. On September 12, 2008, at age 46, Wallace wrote a private two-page suicide note to his wife, arranged part of the manuscript for The Pale King , and hanged himself from a rafter of his house.
Memorial gatherings were held at Pomona College, Amherst College, the University of Arizona, Illinois State University, and on October 23, 2008, at New York University (NYU). The eulogists at NYU included his sister, Amy Wallace-Havens; his literary agent, Bonnie Nadell; Gerry Howard, editor of his first two books; Colin Harrison, an editor at Harper's Magazine; Michael Pietsch, editor of Infinite Jest and later works; Deborah Treisman, fiction editor at The New Yorker magazine; and the writers Don DeLillo, Zadie Smith, George Saunders, Mark Costello, Donald Antrim, and Jonathan Franzen.
In March 2010 it was announced that Wallace's personal papers and archives—drafts of books, stories, essays, poems, letters, and research, including the handwritten notes for Infinite Jest —had been purchased by the University of Texas at Austin. They now reside at that university's Harry Ransom Center.
The first David Foster Wallace Conference was hosted by the Illinois State University Department of English in May 2014; the second was held in May 2015.
Since 2011 Loyola University New Orleans has offered English seminar courses on Wallace. Similar courses are also taught at Harvard University.
In January 2017 the International David Foster Wallace Society and the Journal of David Foster Wallace Studies were launched.
A feature-length film adaptation of Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, directed by John Krasinski with an ensemble cast, was released in 2009 and premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.
The 19th episode of the 23rd season of The Simpsons , "A Totally Fun Thing That Bart Will Never Do Again" (2012), is loosely based on Wallace's essay "Shipping Out" from his 1997 collection of essays A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again . The Simpson family takes a cruise, and Wallace appears in the background of a scene, wearing a tuxedo T-shirt while eating in the ship's dining room; Wallace recounted having worn such a T-shirt "at formal suppers".[ This quote needs a citation ]
The 2015 film The End of the Tour is based on conversations David Lipsky had with Wallace, transcribed in Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself (2010). Jason Segel played Wallace, and Jesse Eisenberg Lipsky. The film won an Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature at the Sarasota Film Festival,and Segel was nominated for the Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead.
"Partridge", a Season 5 episode of NBC's Parks and Recreation , repeatedly references Infinite Jest, of which the show's co-creator, Michael Schur, is a noted fan. Schur also directed the music video for The Decemberists' "Calamity Song", which depicts the Eschaton game from Infinite Jest.
Twelve of the interviews from Brief Interviews with Hideous Men were adapted into a stage play in 2000, the first theatrical adaptation of Wallace's work. The play, Hideous Men, adapted and directed by Dylan McCullough, premiered at the New York International Fringe Festival in August 2000.
Brief Interviews was also adapted by director Marc Caellas as a play, Brief Interviews with Hideous Writers, which premiered at Fundación Tomás Eloy Martinez in Buenos Aires on November 4, 2011.In 2012 it was adapted into a play for a two-night run at the ICA in London by artist Andy Holden.
The short story "Tri-Stan: I Sold Sissee Nar to Ecko" from Brief Interviews with Hideous Men was adapted by composer Eric Moeinto a 50-minute operatic piece, to be performed with accompanying video projections. The piece was described as having "subversively inscribed classical music into pop culture".
Infinite Jest was performed once as a stage play by Germany's experimental theater Hebbel am Ufer. The play was staged in various locations throughout Berlin, and the action took place over a 24-hour period.
"Good Old Neon", from Oblivion: Stories , was adapted and performed by Ian Forester at the 2011 Hollywood Fringe Festival, produced by the Los Angeles independent theater company Needtheater.
The song "Surrounded by Heads and Bodies", from the album A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships by The 1975, borrows its title from the opening line of Infinite Jest.Matty Healy, The 1975's lead singer, said in an interview with Pitchfork that he was inspired by the novel after reading it during a stint in rehab:
I was reading [Infinite Jest] when I was in rehab. There was no one there. It was me and my nurses, who'd come in and check on me, and then Angela [the protagonist of the song], miles away. I was surrounded by no one, and the book was just open on the front page, as most copies of Infinite Jest are ..... nobody reads [Infinite Jest] all the way! Everyone our age has got a battered, quarter-read copy of Infinite Jest.
Jonathan Earl Franzen is an American novelist and essayist. His 2001 novel The Corrections, a sprawling, satirical family drama, drew widespread critical acclaim, earned Franzen a National Book Award, was a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction finalist, earned a James Tait Black Memorial Prize and was shortlisted for the International Dublin Literary Award. His novel Freedom (2010) garnered similar praise and led to an appearance on the cover of Time magazine alongside the headline "Great American Novelist".
Infinite Jest is a novel by American writer David Foster Wallace. The novel has an unconventional narrative structure, including 388 endnotes, some with footnotes of their own.
Hysterical realism, also called recherché postmodernism, is a term coined in 2000 by English critic James Wood to describe what he sees as a literary genre typified by a strong contrast between elaborately absurd prose, plotting, or characterization, on the one hand, and careful, detailed investigations of real, specific social phenomena on the other.
Dale Peck is an American novelist, literary critic, and columnist. His 2009 novel, Sprout, won the Lambda Literary Award for LGBT Children's/Young Adult literature, and was a finalist for the Stonewall Book Award in the Children's and Young Adult Literature category.
Brief Interviews with Hideous Men is a critically acclaimed short story collection by the late American writer David Foster Wallace, first published in 1999 by Little, Brown. According to the papers in the David Foster Wallace Archive at the Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin, the book has an estimated net sales of 17,500 hardcover copies during the first year of its publication making it a literary fiction bestseller.
The Recognitions is the 1955 debut novel of US author William Gaddis. The novel was initially poorly received by critics. After Gaddis won a National Book Award in 1975 for his second novel, J R, his first work gradually received new and belated recognition as a masterpiece of American literature.
Michael Herbert Schur is an American television producer, writer, and character actor. He was a producer and writer for the comedy series The Office, and co-created Parks and Recreation with Office producer Greg Daniels. He created The Good Place, co-created the comedy series Brooklyn Nine-Nine and was a producer on the series Master of None. He also played Mose Schrute in The Office. In 2021, he co-created a comedy series Rutherford Falls.
New Sincerity is a trend in music, aesthetics, literary fiction, film criticism, poetry, literary criticism and philosophy that generally describes creative works that expand upon and break away from concepts of postmodernist irony and cynicism.
Oblivion: Stories (2004) is a collection of short fiction by the American writer David Foster Wallace. Oblivion is Wallace's third and last short story collection and was listed as a 2004 New York Times Notable Book of the Year. In the stories, Wallace explores the nature of reality, dreams, trauma, and the "dynamics of consciousness." The story "Good Old Neon" was included in The O. Henry Prize Stories 2002.
Brief Interviews with Hideous Men is a 2009 American comedy-drama film written, produced, and directed by John Krasinski, in his directorial debut based on a short story collection of the same name by David Foster Wallace.
Steven Moore is an American author and literary critic. Best known as an authority on the novels of William Gaddis, he is also the author of the two-volume study The Novel: An Alternative History.
The Pale King is an unfinished novel by David Foster Wallace, published posthumously on April 15, 2011. It was planned as Wallace's third novel, and the first since Infinite Jest in 1996, but it was not completed at the time of his death. Before his suicide in 2008, Wallace organized the manuscript and associated computer files in a place where they would be found by his widow, Karen Green, and his agent, Bonnie Nadell. That material was compiled by his friend and editor Michael Pietsch into the form that was eventually published. Wallace had been working on the novel for over a decade. Even incomplete, The Pale King is a long work, with 50 chapters of varying length totaling over 500 pages.
Infinite Summer was an online book club–style project started by writer Matthew Baldwin. Sponsored by The Morning News, participants were challenged to read and complete David Foster Wallace's novel Infinite Jest at a rate of about 75 pages a week from June 21 to September 22, 2009.
The Morning News is a U.S.-based daily online magazine founded in 1999 by Rosecrans Baldwin and Andrew Womack. It began as an email newsletter and in the fall of 2000 evolved into a news-oriented weblog with a New York focus. In October 2002, Baldwin and Womack launched The Morning News as a daily-published online magazine.
Freedom is a 2010 novel by American author Jonathan Franzen. It was published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Freedom received general acclaim from book critics, and was ranked one of the best books of 2010 by several publications, and has been described as a "Great American Novel".
Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace is a 2010 memoir by David Lipsky, about a five-day road trip with the author David Foster Wallace. It is based upon a Rolling Stone magazine story that received the National Magazine Award.
David Foster Wallace (1962–2008) was an American author of novels, essays, and short stories, and a professor at Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois, and Pomona College in Claremont, California.
"Why Bother?", originally published as "Perchance to Dream: In the Age of Images, a Reason to Write Novels", is a literary essay by American novelist Jonathan Franzen. It is often referred to as "The Harper's Essay". First published in the April 1996 issue of Harper's magazine, the essay concerns the persistence of reading within the context of technological growth and distraction. Franzen recounts his meditations on the state and possibility of the novel form, often against the backdrop of his personal experience, eventually concluding that the novel still has potential cultural agency in the United States, and often gains it by paradoxical drives of both culture and author.
Farther Away is a 2012 collection of essays by the American writer Jonathan Franzen.
The End of the Tour is a 2015 American drama film about writer David Foster Wallace. The film stars Jason Segel and Jesse Eisenberg, was written by Donald Margulies, and was directed by James Ponsoldt. Based on David Lipsky's best-selling memoir Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself, screenwriter Margulies first read the book in 2011, and sent it to Ponsoldt, a former student of his, who took on the job of director. Filming took place in early 2014 in Michigan, with scenes also shot at the Mall of America. Danny Elfman provided the score, with the soundtrack featuring songs by musicians like R.E.M. and Brian Eno, whose inclusion was based on the kind of music Wallace and Lipsky listened to.
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