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The death of David Foster Wallace
Remembering an author who wrote of despair, and died young
A

uthor David Foster Wallace’s death by apparent suicide at 46 “is a grotesque shock,” said Robert Potts in the Guardian. He was “brilliant,” and his “gargantuan novel, Infinite Jest” displayed "a startling originality in an age of increasingly predictable literary gestures.” Wallace “set the bar so dizzyingly high” that it’s hard to “imagine where he might next have taken his art”—and it “hurts” that we “will never know.”

Wallace was “a prose magician,” said Michiko Kakutani in The New York Times, who created “a series of strobe-lit portraits of a millennial America overdosing on the drugs of entertainment and self-gratification.” But “although his books can be uproariously, laugh-out-loud funny, a dark threnody of sadness and despair also runs through” his work.

Wallace's dark side was no secret, said Mark Caro in the Chicago Tribune. After he “became a twentysomething literary phenom” in the late-’80s, “he checked himself into a hospital and asked to be put on suicide watch.” But the news of his death still came as a shock to colleagues and former students, who remember Wallace as a down-to-earth, “deeply caring person.”

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