“Right now I am a pathetic and very confused young man” — Read an Excerpt from the New David Foster Wallace Biography by D.T. Max

by Biblioklept

 

The only thing Wallace knew for sure was that he desperately wanted to be a novelist again but some piece of him still felt too fragile to attempt an effort so key to his well-being. The problem, he felt, was not really the words on the page; he had lost confidence not in his ability to write so much as the need to have written. Jonathan Franzen, with whom he had struck up an epistolary friendship, offered to get together that April when he was in Boston. Wallace said fine but stood him up after they made plans. But because one tenet of recovery is to make amends to those you have wronged, he wrote to his friend explaining his behavior. “The bald fact is that I’m a little afraid of you right now,” he wrote. He begged to be allowed to bow out of their embryonic competition, to declare a truce against this writer who was so “irked by my stuff,” because Wallace was no longer “a worthy opponent in some kind of theoretical chess-by-mail game from which we can both profit by combat.”

He went on: “Right now I am a pathetic and very confused young man, a failed writer at 28, who is so jealous, so sickly searingly envious of you and Vollmann and Mark Leyner and even David F–kwad Leavitt and any young man who is right now producing pages with which he can live … that I consider suicide a reasonable—if not at this point a desirable—option with respect to the whole wretched problem.”

From D.T. Max’s forthcoming David Foster Wallace biography Every Love Story Is a Ghost StoryRead the rest of the excerpt.

 

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One Comment to ““Right now I am a pathetic and very confused young man” — Read an Excerpt from the New David Foster Wallace Biography by D.T. Max”

  1. The New Yorker article posted some years ago from this book was a tragic read. It’s hard to discuss Wallace these days. So much has been heaped onto him, his legacy seemingly obscured as more people wish to throw their two cents on (just look at any YouTube video w/ Wallace in it or articles, etc.). Max seems the least trying to cash in bookwise, but it’s still difficult. We lost a great American writer, and writer and human overall, w/ Wallace. I think that’s what the notion we’ve seemed to have lost most. There are tons who will say he was an influence, but hardly any will get to that peak.

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