David Foster Wallace left us this past weekend, and the world is a much sadder place for it. I'd first heard his name when in high school, when my most beloved teacher, Ms. Wilson, recommended his magnum opus "Infinite Jest" to me. She knew that I might find the 1,100 page novel a bit daunting, and suggested--if I didn't have the nerve--that I might as well just pick up "Girl With Curious Hair."
It wasn't until after college, during the summer of '07, that I finally got up the nerve to tackle IJ with my girlfriend who would be reading it also. It took over our lives in a way only few things can, and we became both a source of irritation and envy for our friends. During that time, reading about Don Gately, Hal Incandenza, O.N.A.N., Eschaton, Wheelchair Assasins, Madame Psychosis, The Entertainment, the concavexity, etc etc, I kept thinking to myself that I wish I'd read it sooner. In it's pages I found a sensitivity to the modern condition that was at once critical and empowering, at once heartbreaking and hopeful.
In the days since DFW "eliminated his own map" (to borrow terminology from IJ), I've read tributes written by everyone from Patton Oswalt to Dave Eggers to Gawker commenters. It's surprising and heartening to see just how many people are affected by his loss. His genius was one of those rare types, so total and self assured as to take the form of a sheer force of nature. In no small sense, his gift was taken for granted, and, now that it is gone, his lack will leave a gaping hole in the literary consciousness that it is incumbent upon us to fill.
Christ on a jet-ski, Davie! We'll miss you.