One of my favorite writers is gone. The polymathic David Foster Wallace was found dead Friday night in his Claremont, California, home by his wife. The cause of death was apparently suicide, and Wallace had struggled with depression in the past.
Wallace’s writing has been highly influential to me. His combination of wide-ranging interests, deep concern about authenticity, and his relentlessly discursive approach to writing resonated with me in a way that few others have. His humor, however, should not be missed. Foster Wallace was deeply and unapologetically funny, and not in a complex William Gass-ian way where you needed five degrees and three weeks to sort it out, but in a straight-ahead "Ha!" sort of way.
The best of David Foster Wallace’s fiction and non-fiction will stand up among the most important writing of the last fifty years, from his gargantuan Infinite Jest, to smaller and quirkier works, like his history of zero. In his spare time, Wallace wrote the only piece about cruise-ships worth reading, and he was, arguably, the best tennis writer on the planet (as this recent piece showed).