David Foster Wallace

I never fully appreciated David Foster Wallace as an author until thumbing through the recently released “Greatest Hits” put together to posthumously celebrate the range of his literary contributions, prompting me to sit down with it seriously over the weekend.


The Wallace Reader opens with The Planet Trillaphon As It Stands In Relation To The Bad Thing, an early work published in the Amherst Review when David Wallace was 22, and before authorship took on his middle name.  As most first works, the degree to which it is autobiographical wasn’t as clear as it would become when he committed suicide 24 years later.  There is a dark side to DFW, yet – or, perhaps through this – he was able to inspire many readers and listeners, as evidenced in this video capturing the essence of a commencement speech he gave during graduation ceremonies at Kenyon College.

D.T. Max, writing in The New Yorker magazine, considers that DFW left this planet with considerable unfinished business.  As a newcomer to the depth of Wallace’s writing, I’ll be traveling down the path on which he has led other readers’ eyes and minds.  While I doubt that I’ll be experiencing Talmudic flashbacks as was the case for Joseph Winkler, one never knows where the linkages will lead.

About Leonard J. Press, O.D., FAAO, FCOVD

Developmental Optometry is my passion as well as occupation. Blogging allows me to share thoughts in a unique visual style.
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2 Responses to David Foster Wallace

  1. DFW can be very self-indulgent, especially in his earlier works, but the trajectory of his writing was certainly pointing towards something that was, at the very least, painfully earnest and hopeful. Intellectually, his more experimental fiction provides fun mental exercises, such as the eponymous story in Oblivion. But the reason I love his writing is because of the fact that he can combine mind and emotion and the ability to put into words the things that most people only experience through partially formed or semi-conscious thoughts. His short fiction is the best place to start in my opinion, with pieces like Good Old Neon and Octet, just so one can get a feel for his stylistic tendencies and ideological patterns. After that, I HIGHLY recommend Infinite Jest (and to a lesser extent, The Pale King) as the best place to fully form your opinion of the direction in which Wallace’s arrow was pointing.

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