David Foster Wallace

Author of Infinite Jest and 10+ Books

David Foster Wallace


David Foster Wallace worked on almost everything with surprising turns: novels, journalism, holidays. His life has been a hunt for information, gathering how and why. "Today I have received 500,000 discrete pieces of information," he said once, "of which perhaps 25 are important. My job is to make sense of it." He wanted to write "stuff about what life feels like. Instead of being a relief from what it feels like to live." Readers curled up in hi... s style's nooks and clearings: his comedy, his brilliance, his humanity. Wallace was a high school student, played football, played tennis, wrote a thesis of philosophy and a novel before he graduated from Amherst, went to school, published the novel, made a city of squalling, bruising, kneecapping editors and writers fall moony-eyed in love with him. He published a thousand-page novel, received the nation's only award for being a genius, wrote essays providing the best feeling of what it means to be alive in the contemporary world, accepted a special chair at California's Pomona College to teach writing, married, published another book, and last month [Sept.]. 2008], a 46-year-old excerpt from David Foster Wallace's Lost Years & Last Days by David Lipsky in Rolling Stone Magazine on 30 October 2008. Among Wallace's honors were the Whiting Writers Award (1987), the Lannan Literary Award (1996), the Paris Review Aga Khan Prize for Fiction (1997), the National Magazine Award (2001), three O. Henry Awards (1988, 1999, 2002), and the MacArthur Foundation.READ MORE

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Popular quotes by David Foster Wallace


Look down your shirt and spell attic.

The even newer new guy now that's come in to take Chandler Foss's spot's name is Dave K. and is one grim story to behold, Thrust assures him, a junior executive guy at ATHSCME Air Displacement, an upscale guy with a picket house and kids and a worried wife with tall hair, who this Dave K.'s bottom was he drank half a liter of Cuerva at some ATHSCME
Interdependence Day office party and everything like that and got in some insane drunken limbo-dance challenge with a rival
executive and tried to like limbo under a desk or a chair or something insanely low, and got his spine all fucked up in a limbolock,
maybe permanently: so the newest new guy scuttles around the Ennet House living room like a crab, his scalp brushing the
floor and his knees trembling with effort.

The big thing (that really good fiction) can do is leaping over that wall of self and portraying inner experience and setting up a kind of intimate conversation between two consciousnesses . . . the trick is going to be trying to find a way to do it--and for a generation--whose relation to the long sustained, linear verbal communication is fundamentally different.

The kid has to learn by his own experience how to learn to balance the short- and long-term pursuit of what he wants.'
'He must be freely enlightened to self.'
'This is the crux of the educational system you find so appalling. Not to teach what to desire. To teach how to be free. To teach how to make knowledgeable choices about pleasure and delay and the kid's overall down-the-road maximal interests.

Today's person spends way more time in front of screens, in florescent lit rooms, in cubicles being on one end of the other of an electronic data transfer . . . What is it to be human and alive and exercise your humanity in that kind of exchange?

there's a part in the essay that kind of does this academic "Let's unpack the idea of Lynchian and what Lynchian means is something about the unbelievably grotesque existing in a kind of union with the unbelievably banal," and then it gives a series of scenarios about what -- what is and what isn't Lynchian. Jeffrey Dahmer was borderline Lynchian...what was Lynchian was having the actual food products next to the disembodied bits of the corpse. I guess the big one is, you know, a regular domestic murder is not Lynchian. But if the man -- if the police come to the scene and see the man standing over the body and the woman -- let's see, the woman's '50s bouffant is undisturbed and the man and the cops have this conversation about the fact that the man killed the woman because she persistently refused to buy, say, for instance, Jif peanut butter rather than Skippy, and how very, very important that is, and if the cops found themselves somehow agreeing that there were major differences between the brands and that a wife who didn't recognize those differences was deficient in her wifely duties, that would be Lynchian -- this weird confluence of very dark, surreal, violent stuff and absolute, almost Norman Rockwell, banal, American stuff, which is terrain he's been working for quite a while -- I mean, at least since -- at least since "Blue Velvet.

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