Tag Archives: Author

David Foster Wallace: The Infinite Jester.

I have just finished reading Every Love Story Is A Ghost Story, D.T. Max’s biography of David Foster Wallace, an author I’ve heard about but never read. I doubt I’m the only one in the latter category. He’s mentioned in the same breath as Dave Eggars, Thomas Pyncheon, Jonathon Franzen and Dom DeLillo. Of these authors, I’ve only read DeLillo’s Point Omega – and that’s only because it’s a short novel. I still didn’t get it – if there was anything in there to “get” that is.

Wallace achieved fame after the publication of his second novel, Infinite Jest. There is a copy of this 1,079 page monster beside me right now, looking at me, daring me to open it up and read it. It’s a scary proposition. All the more so because the author himself felt he couldn’t top it. No matter how hard he worked (and he came up with some great excuses when he couldn’t quite find the inspiration), Wallace’s anxieties and ongoing struggle with depression and addiction – as well as a succession of failed relationships – ripped his undoubted talents as a fiction writer to shreds. His non-fiction, particularly his journalism, kept him alive – but only to a point.

Wallace committed suicide at the age of 46. He left behind his wife of four years, and an unfinished manuscript for what would eventually become The Pale King, a novel about boredom and the I.R.S.

So why would I be interested in a writer I’ve never read, especially one I’d probably never read? * Because he (and I’m sorry if this sounds clichéd) suffered for his art. When he faced long bouts of writer’s block, he wrote to DeLillo and Franzen to complain about his lot. Nowadays we writers moan about our lack of creativity on Facebook or Twitter. Both actions are cries for help, but Wallace had a bit more class about him. He was also a deep thinker; there wasn’t a subject he didn’t want to know about. He studied philosophy, mathematics, tax accounting (for The Pale King), and was a clever, funny, but insightful critic on modern-day consumerism and mass entertainment. Infinite Jest is Wallace’s commentary on a society brought up to worship television, a society that has become addicted to addictions, become increasingly disconnected, and mourning for a loss of community. Wallace gives us no answers because that would be the easy way out. We have to find these for ourselves.

And this is why I am drawn to this man. He echoes my thoughts right now. The world he wrote about in 1996 is still very much the world of 2012. We’re still searching for answers, looking for meaning in an ultimately meaningless society. Will we find them? Wallace didn’t stay around long enough to find out.

* (I will clarify my above statement. I have read Wallace: it was an article he wrote about Roger Federer – Wallace played tennis to a high level when he was younger – and it’s an exquisite piece of writing.)

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Choose Or Die: Join In The Fun

Yours truly, as supplied by novakillustration.com

I’m honoured to take part in Season 2 of Choose Or Die, a “choose your own adventure” style story which allows the reader to choose where the story goes from a given point.

It is the brainchild of Steven Novak, a talented writer and artist and author of the FORTS series of children’s books. Steven got some writers from Facebook together and between them they came up with Red Planet Stowaway.

Last season’s story-line of Choose Or Die was a manic and hilarious chase around Mars, with a protagonist who didn’t know who or what he was. You can read the entire story here.

For Season 2 there is a small change in personnel – and that’s where I come in. I join Steven, MJ Heiser, Richard James, Cathleen Holst, Mandy Ward, John Elrod, Yasamin Alisha, Tomara Armstrong, Leah Crichton, Lael Gardner-Stalnaker and Ryan O’Neil, and together we’ll create a story that will make your brains zing.

The story chosen by our readers is called Welcome To Hellywood. The premise is simple: You’re an aging A-list celebrity (by Tinseltown’s standards) who begins losing roles to younger celebs. You make a drastic decision to go under the knife, but are not prepared for the results.

What happens is this: one of the team will write a chapter and then leave the reader with three possible choices, who then vote for their favourite. The winning choice is written by another member of the team for the following week. The other two choices get their own chapter and usually end with the protagonist meeting a grisly end. Hence, choose or die.

This story can go anywhere…and it probably will. Check out the official trailer.