Here’s one of the better assessments of David Foster Wallace’s work, by William Deresiewicz. It’s insightful for two reasons: One, it gets past DFW’s post-modern literary techniques and structures to recognize that DFW was not a post-modernist in the ideological or thematic sense. Two, for all the hoopla surrounding the (deservedly) famous Kenyon address, Dersiewicz recognizes DFW’s ultimate failure to discern how to live* in a post-modern world without accepting or affirming the the unpleasant implications of that system of thought, which is a scary recognition indeed.

*Not in a “someone who commits suicide has obviously not figured out how to live,” but that the over-arching theme of his work was exploring the philosphical implications of a question he could never produce a satisfying answer to, which has some bum-out connotations for all the rest of us.**

** Yes, these footnotes are obnoxious, inevitable and obligatory.


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