When Fiction Failed David Foster Wallace

The news of David Foster Wallace’s suicide came as a shock. 46, supremely talented, and gone. We’re not left with much. His books, his essays, and the understandable desire to find some link between his writing and his end. Here’s a line that caught my attention from David Streitfeld’s blog. (He’s a former books editor at The Boston Globe, and now a reporter for The New York Times.)

Fiction, [DFW once said], is “one of the few experiences where loneliness can be both confronted and relieved. Drugs, movies where stuff blows up, loud parties — all these chase away loneliness by making me forget my name’s Dave and I live in a one-by-one box of bone no other party can penetrate or know. Fiction, poetry, music, really deep serious sex, and, in various ways, religion — these are the places (for me) where loneliness is countenanced, stared down, transfigured, treated.” Maybe he asked too much of fiction. Maybe it failed him in the end, and there was nothing left.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.