Dispatch from the Razor's Edge, the Blog of Michael Stephen Fuchs
DFW Post-Death Watch, Day 200
"Everything unendurable was in the head, was the head not Abiding in the Present but hopping the wall and doing a recon and then returning with unendurable news. What’s unendurable is what his own head could make of it all. But he could choose not to listen."
- David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest

D.T. Max has a totally stunning piece in The New Yorker: The Unfinished - David Foster Wallace’s struggle to surpass “Infinite Jest”. I've now read it twice – once online and once in print (Anna brought the issue home for me). It told me an awful lot about Wallace's life that I hadn't known – and, perforce, explained a lot about how he performed some of the magic he did:

Wallace was trying to write differently, but the path was not evident to him. “I think he didn’t want to do the old tricks people expected of him,” Karen Green, his wife, says. “But he had no idea what the new tricks would be.” The problem went beyond technique. The central issue for Wallace remained, as he told McCaffery, how to give “CPR to those elements of what’s human and magical that still live and glow despite the times’ darkness.” He added, “Really good fiction could have as dark a worldview as it wished, but it’d find a way both to depict this world and to illuminate the possibilities for being alive and human in it.”




And a few days ago, Rolling Stone finally put the full text online of what's if anything an even more stunning piece: The Lost Years & Last Days of David Foster Wallace:

He published a thousand-page novel, received the only award you get in the nation for being a genius, wrote essays providing the best feel anywhere of what it means to be alive in the contemporary world, accepted a special chair at California's Pomona College to teach writing, married, published another book and, last month, hanged himself at age 46.

"The one thing that really should be said about David Foster Wallace is that this was a once-in-a-century talent," says his friend and former editor Colin Harrison. "We may never see a guy like this again in our lifetimes — that I will shout out. He was like a comet flying by at ground level."




And, most stunningly of all, I have learned that his unfinished, mammoth, magisterial last novel – which he started doing research on after Infinite Jest came out in 1996, and which he had been trying to write since 2000, and which is called The Pale King – is going to be shuffled into some kind of shape and published in 2010.

I took the occasion of his death last year to read Infinite Jest for the third time. It was better than ever. Much better. But it may not be his best work. It may not be my favourite novel of all time, starting next year.

I feel I should close on some note other than excitement about the new novel. But nothing's coming. All I can think is that I wish I could have talked to him some time – many of his laments about struggling with life in the world sound so familiar. But my idea that I could somehow have helped him is rather like how his goal had been to “show readers how to live a fulfilled, meaningful life. ‘Fiction’s about what it is to be a fucking human being,’ he once said. Good writing should help readers to ‘become less alone inside.’” But, of course, the poor man had no idea how to live. Other people's problems are easy to solve.




Almost forgot – on a lighter note: NASCAR Cancels Remainder Of Season Following David Foster Wallace's Death:

Shock, grief, and the overwhelming sense of loss that has swept the stock car racing community following the death by apparent suicide of writer David Foster Wallace has moved NASCAR to cancel the remainder of its 2008 season.

"All race long on Sunday, I was dealing with the unreality presented me by his absence," said #16 3M Ford Fusion driver Greg Biffle, who won Sunday's Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, the first race in the Chase For The Cup, and would therefore have had the lead in the championship. "I first read Infinite Jest in 1998 when my gas-can man gave me a copy when I was a rookie in the Craftsman Truck Series, and I was immediately struck dumb by the combination of effortlessness and earnestness of his prose. Here was a writer who loved great, sprawling, brilliantly punctuated sentences that spread in a kind of textual kudzu across the page, yet in every phrase you got a sense of his yearning to relate and convey the importance of every least little thing. It's no exaggeration to say that when I won Rookie of the Year that season it was David Foster Wallace who helped me keep that achievement, and therefore my life, in perspective."

"And now he's gone. We can't possibly race now."


  books     david foster wallace     depression     excerpts     humour     writing  
about
close photo of Michael Stephen Fuchs

Fuchs is the author of the novels The Manuscript and Pandora's Sisters, both published worldwide by Macmillan in hardback, paperback and all e-book formats (and in translation); the D-Boys series of high-tech, high-concept, spec-ops military adventure novels – D-Boys, Counter-Assault, and Close Quarters Battle (2014); and is co-author, with Glynn James, of the bestselling Arisen series of spec-ops zombie apocalypse dark action thrillers. The second nicest thing anyone has ever said about his work was: "Fuchs seems to operate on the narrative principle of 'when in doubt put in a firefight'." (Kirkus Reviews, more here.)

Fuchs was born in New York; schooled in Virginia (UVa); and later emigrated to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he lived through the dot-com boom. Subsequently he decamped for an extended period of tramping before finally rocking up in London, where he now makes his home. He does a lot of travel blogging, most recently of some very  long  walks around the British Isles. He's been writing and developing for the web since 1994 and shows no particularly hopeful signs of stopping.

You can reach him on .

THE MANUSCRIPT by Michael Stephen Fuchs
PANDORA'S SISTERS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
DON'T SHOOT ME IN THE ASS, AND OTHER STORIES by Michael Stephen Fuchs
D-BOYS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
COUNTER-ASSAULT by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book One - Fortress Britain, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Two - Mogadishu of the Dead, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN : Genesis, by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Three - Three Parts Dead, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Four - Maximum Violence, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Five - EXODUS, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Six - The Horizon, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Seven - Death of Empires, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Eight - Empire of the Dead by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
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