Saturday, September 13, 2008

David Foster Wallace, 1962-2008

David Foster Wallace has taken his own life at the age of 46. I never met or spoke with him, although he wrote for Rolling Stone while I was an editor there. His work for our 9/11 issue inspired such editorial passion that it ended up being indirectly responsible for a precisely kicked dent in a cubicle right outside my office, which is probably still there. He also write a brilliant piece from the campaign trail on John McCain early in 2000, shortly before I arrived at the magazine, which won a National Magazine Award.

His fiction was brilliant, but his reported pieces were what I really enjoyed, going to the Illinois State Fair or telling tales of being a highly ranked young tennis player. Most of all, his work vibrated with the joy of writing, which makes it all the more shocking that he would have decided he didn't want to live anymore.

Wallace grew up in central Illinois, and he never tried to pretend he hadn't. I loved that about him, too.


Gavin said...

What was the point of conflict that resulted in that dent?

T. Nawrocki said...

DFW had written a piece for the 9/11 issue talking about the reactions of several people in Southern Illinois. It turned out that some of the piece had been fictionalized, and certain members of the editorial staff were not told this until the afternoon the story closed, and DFW resisted making any changes that would indicate said fictionalization.... It was Saturday afternoon, most of us had been there past midnight the night before and would be there past midnight again that night, and, you know, 9/11 had just happened, so everyone was a little edgy. At least we can look back on it and laugh now.

Joe said...

Is fictionalized right? Or were there composite characters?