David Foster Wallace, the preternaturally talented young author of the novel Infinite Jest and several nonfiction masterpieces, has committed suicide at the age of 46. He was found in his Los Angeles home by his wife.
Allan, my partner, has a fascination - one might say obsession - with Wallace. Infinite Jest was his favourite novel, possibly his favourite written work, period. I've heard people say this is a book that many people bought but few read. I never knew that, since Allan read it more than once, and pored over it online with other similarly fascinated readers.
Although I couldn't get the hang of Wallace's fiction, I flipped over his essays, especially as contained in the collection A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again. We saw Wallace read at a Barnes & Noble in New York when Supposedly Fun Thing came out in paperback. I'm glad I had a chance to shake his hand and thank him for his work as he autographed my copy.
Allan has multiple copies of Jest, in various editions, including a first printing with a famous typo, and the identical first printing, autographed, which I bought for him in an infamously redundant birthday gift. There I was crowing about how I finally managed a birthday surprise of the caliber he always pulled off for me... only to be greeted by a quizzical look, and "Why did you get me this? I already have it."
First one to tell me that now the book is "worth something" gets banned for life.
This is very sad.
For Allan, it's a kind of personal loss. When there is anyone - an artist, writer, musician, athlete, anyone - whose work has meant a lot to you for a long time, and they die - especially if they are young - it hurts in a strangely and deeply personal way.
David Foster Wallace was a year younger than me, and a year older than Allan. I think we both feel it that way, too.