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2008-09-15 - 4:37 p.m.

Just the other day a friend mentioned he was reading Infinite Jest and I'd said, not ever having read a word of it, that he "shouldn't bother." Why did I do that? Why did I feel it necessary to disparage this clearly epic and influential book, a work of possible genius (or, at the least, a work of a monumental amount of inspired, hard work)? In my head at the time, just a couple of days ago, I had the idea that stuff like Infinite Jest and Ulysses and, I don't know, 32-minute songs were no good. How silly. Those things just aren't for me, but then again, they weren't made with me in mind. They were made because they had to be made, because someone had a fantastically big notion in his head, because of a lot of hard work, because of some power that's much bigger than me and my little ideas about what kinds of books people should read.

This is all by way of saying that, a few years ago, I'd read David Foster Wallace's essay about the cruise industry, A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, which I liked so much and which made me laugh so much that I've read it five times since, and that reading about his suicide on Saturday night made me very sad. So sad that I considered sending a text message out to five or six friends I thought might care, before sliding closed my phone and not sending it because a message that read, "David Foster Wallace died" might not be the best thing on an otherwise normal and possibly easygoing Saturday night in Baltimore, Maryland. I'd never met the guy or seen many photos of him, but he was smart in a way that is hard to get your head around, and funny, and someone, I thought, to admire. It makes me terribly sad, moreover, to think that someone like that, at age 46, came to the conclusion that killing himself was the only way he could go. Man.

Also, this is by way of saying that, while my plan today was to work on my own writing, to peck away at DJ Snook and the way he sung the Paula Abdul song "Straight Up" in middle school home economics, what I really did today was read David Foster Wallace's Consider the Lobster and marvel that a magazine devoted to top-notch food and intensely focused and pleasurable eating would run the thing in the first place. For me, he took the world in his hands, held it up to the sun, and what reflected back came in ten pieces or fifteen, or twenty, and it was worth it that he'd broken it up in the first place.

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