Critics found Wallace’s compact composing both exhilarating and maddening, and his style and virtuosity drew comparisons to Thomas Pynchon and Don DeLillo. Wallace’s lifelong battle with melancholy came to a conclusion in September 2008, when he committed suicide.
David Foster Wallace was born on February 21, 1962, in Ithaca, ny. (Fittingly, his dad was a philosophy professor and his mom was an English teacher.) His family moved to Illinois when he was youthful, and Wallace picked up tennis, becoming a regionally ranked player (and lifelong lover).
While at Amherst, what was a recurring affliction actually came to the fore: Wallace’s melancholy became serious, and he had to leave school repeatedly in efforts to recuperate. Between these episodes, Wallace was a leading student, and his mind became well known on campus. Inthe end also fell into routine spells of drinking and marijuana-smoking to fight the melancholy, but the mix oftentimes made his condition worse.
In 1987, while Wallace was still in graduate school, The Broom of the System was released to mixed but influenced critical reviews. The publication set Wallace securely on the literary map, additionally making him something of a rock star in his graduate program. Another development from his Arizona years was that he started believing his material use was debatable and attended group meetings for dependence.
A compact, intellectual number of short stories, Girl with Curious Hair, would seem next, in 1989. Wallace shortly left, nevertheless, and went to Syracuse to be near novelist and poet Mary Karr, with whom he had a relationship.
Wallace’s own past—from drug use and misuse to 12-step programs to tennis—would form the keystone of the huge novel (it clocks in at almost 1,100 pages with 330 footnotes), which would go on to almost worldwide acclaim, landing on “best of” lists nationally. Establish in the not too distant future, the novel is a sprawling comment on consumerism, dependency and artwork, and has drawn comparisons to Thomas Pynchon, Don DeLillo and William Gaddis.
Wallace was a popular commodity after Infinite Jest was launched, and he started taking on journalistic duties from national literary magazines including Harper’s and the Atlantic, using his maximalist style to reinvent the magazine article. Wallace stuck with briefer (comparatively speaking) bits normally, and many sets of fiction and nonfiction appeared within the span of his career, including A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again (1997), Brief Interviews with Hideous Men (1999) and Oblivion (2004).
Wallace was active teaching at the same time, holding places at Emerson College, Illinois State University and Pomona College. Along the way, Wallace was given the MacArthur Fellowship, a Lannan Literary Award and a Whiting Writers’ Award.
Finally, Wallace could not escape the melancholy that had plagued him for 20 years, and he committed suicide on September 12, 2008, in Claremont, California. His last novel, The Pale King, was printed in 2011.