David Foster Wallace biography reveals multiple sides of the troubled yet brilliant author

2aee7e57950f88f02bbccb347733980c

In “Infinite Jest,” David Foster Wallace’s most acclaimed work, Ken Erdedy, a character who eventually winds up in rehab due to prolific pot binges, enters the novel anxiously waiting for his dealer. Ironically, the discipline Erdedy applies to arranging his binges nearly equals the discipline he’ll need to kick the habit.

The scene represents what may have been Wallace’s greatest gift — his ability to describe the inner workings of our minds. There’s a striking authenticity to Erdedy that those who have indulged will relate to — and will also make the reader curious about the writer himself.

In “Every Love Story is a Ghost Story,” D. T. Max presents an intricate companion guide to understanding Wallace’s life and works. As Max puts it, “David’s story had a purity even in its impurity.”

Following David’s life from his Midwestern roots up to his untimely death, his path appears more as a battle against himself, shifting from a youth with the “moral clarity of the immature,” as he wrote in his debut novel, “The Broom of the System,” to a writer who deeply cared about his readership, aching to teach them how to live life to the fullest.

“The thing that’s so alluring and seductive about David,” Max says, “is that he never loses interest in your life. What all his work sends is ‘take yourself seriously.’”

But that wasn’t always the case. Max’s portrayal of Wallace greatly differs at times from the identity that Wallace honed through his work and interviews. For instance, avid Wallace fans will be surprised to learn that his research into drug addiction and rehabilitation for “Infinite Jest” came firsthand, and how his relationships could produce a side of Wallace that was borderline psychotic.

However, Max says, “The dark side of David is so closely tied in with the bright side of him, I think, if we didn’t have that dark side … teaching us to take our lives seriously wouldn’t be possible.”

Wallace was also, at times, a fun, loving person who watched “Jurassic Park” dozens of times, drove a lemon hours on end to visit friends and let his dogs lick his mouth clean.

Max’s biography is part vigil, part celebration. Wallace was a writer who gave so much to a readership that loved him in return. When Max describes Wallace’s time as a professor, it’s hard to not yearn to have been one of his students.

“Every Love Story” also details Wallace’s works with a criticism that respects his authorial intent, illuminating them further.

Even though there’ll be no more works from Wallace, who committed suicide in 2008, “Every Love Story” offers a wonderful dose of his life and ideas, asking us, as Wallace did, “What’s it like to be human in a human community?”

“I don’t think he gave us the answer,” Max says, “but I think he gave us the gift of the question.”



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Dr. Dre is king of hip hop with…

With $620 million in estimated pre-tax earnings, veteran rapper and record producer Dr. Dre topped Forbes list as the highest paid hip hop artist, ousting Sean "Diddy" Combs from the…

News

Bin Laden son-in-law sentenced to life in U.S.…

A seemingly unrepentant Suleiman Abu Ghaith, a son-in-law of Osama bin Laden, was sentenced to life in prison on Tuesday in New York following his conviction on terrorism charges.

National

Bloomberg: Going green will grant you longer life…

Former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg tells Metro that cities are where fighting global warming can make a difference, and increase people’s lifespan.

International

Ban Ki Moon: "Climate change is an issue…

My message to you is: make your voice heard and your actions count. Change is in the air. Solutions exist. The race is on. It’s time to lead.

Television

Craig Ferguson wants you to see his new…

Craig Ferguson thinks his new game show will become "a comedy show in which a game is played and money is won."

Television

Anthony Anderson on dealing with your 'ish'

Anthony Anderson discusses finding the humor in his "Black-ish" family.

Gossip

Photos: See who Robert Pattinson was caught holding…

Robert Pattinson has a new girlfriend.

The Word

The Word: Kris and Bruce Jenner's predictably public…

They said it wouldn't last — mostly because of that separation almost a year ago. And now, more than a year later, Kris and Bruce…

MLB

Bud Selig honors Derek Jeter as both prepare…

Bud Selig’s 22-year reign as commissioner will end Sunday, and while it’s had its share of negative moments, it also had Derek Jeter.

NFL

Column: Geno Smith not the answer for Jets…

There were highs for Jets quarterback Geno Smith in Monday night’s loss to the Bears and there were incredible lows.

NFL

3 things that went right in Jets loss…

It wasn't the result the Jets wanted, a 27-19 loss to the Bears, but this team deserves some credit.

Sports

Here's the 8 best and worst sporting goodbyes

With Derek Jeter set to retire following the 2014 Major League Baseball season, we look back at some of the great and not-so-great sporting goodbyes.

Home

NYC fall real estate hot list

The upcoming developments and areas everyone's buzzing about.

Style

Milan Fashion Week shows the best of Italian…

Metro rounds up the cut of the collections at Milan Fashion Week.

Tech

The 2014 Maker Faire saw robots, printers and…

Got a broken button maker? There’s a fix for that – and Tony Stanzione of the Fixers’ Collective says he can show you how.

Parenting

First look: Uniqlo's fall/winter 2014 kids collection

Get a sneak peek at Uniqlo's kids and babies fall/winter 2014 line.