Sep. 14th, 2008

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This morning, I turned on ABC just in time to see the "In Memoriam" segment of George Stephanopoulos's news show.  When David Foster Wallace's name came up on the screen, I was shocked. 

On Friday night, Wallace hanged himself.  He was 46 years old.

Less than a week earlier, my (distant) cousin, a bright and talented young man according to those who knew him best, died of a drug overdose.  He had been in rehab, and clean for some time, but addiction is a disease of remissions and relapses.  Michael was 22 years old.

I've not read Wallace's Infinite Jest, nor any of his other fiction.  But I fell madly in love with his essay writing, as found in A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again and Consider the Lobster.  Lovely, lovely pieces, all of them, intricate and obscure and funny and sad and full of footnotes that often are longer than the paragraphs that spawned them.  Ferociously intelligent pieces that demand the reader's full engagement; nothing dumbed down.  I always had the sense that I was missing about half of what I was reading, but not in a frustrating way:  rather, in a way that every good text promises that there is more to learn, more to discover, more to understand if we will simply put in the time with it.  I never did return to those essays, never did put in that extra time, though I always intended to.  There are so many books to read, and so few hours in the day.  But now, I do want to reread them and savor the richness of their language, laugh again at their wit, plumb their depths. 

David Foster Wallace is gone.  There will be no more brilliant essays, no more astounding fiction. 

Michael is gone.  We don't know what he might have contributed to the world; his life was only just beginning.  Still, among his family and friends, he will be forever missed, forever mourned.

Rest in peace.

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emgeetrek

January 2010

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