A Road Trip With David Foster Wallace

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Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace by David Lipsky offers incredible insight into the mind of David Foster Wallace.  Lipsky foregoes organizing his book like a standard biography and instead creates a running transcript of conversations he had with Wallace about his life, work, and other random topics.

Over the course of five days, Lipsky tags along at the tail end of the promotional tour for Wallace’s masterpiece Infinite Jest.  He keeps the tape recorder running and catches every word of conversation.  While the transcript format is a little disjointed and sometimes hard to follow, the choice to maintain straight conversation from start to finish proves to be the perfect method for showcasing the talent and personality of Wallace. As expected, Wallace is quirky, unnervingly intelligent, funny, and incredibly honest. He makes no excuses for his mistakes, nor does he flinch from the truth.  Seeing these traits in such a raw format only confirms that Wallace put all he was into his work, right down to obscurely used 15-syllable words and  dry humor.

In addition, Lipsky digs into the darker, troubled Wallace – the one who was plagued by his own demons and insecurities.  His pain is heartbreaking, but it makes his resilience and ability to inspire others all the more remarkable.  Wallace lived for the work of writing, even when it threatened to kill him more than once. He was a man desperate to understand himself, everyone else, and the world around him, yet I’d wager he had a better understanding of all those things than most people could ever hope to achieve. I’ve always believed Wallace sees the world the way it needs to be seen. After spending five days with him in airports, a rental car, and in his home with his dogs I’ve never been more convinced of that belief.

For any David Foster Wallace fan, Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace is a must read. Not only for a unique perspective on the man, but also for a little insight on all that went into his work.

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c.b.w. 2012

Thinking of Wallace

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The truth will set you free.  But not until it is finished with you.

– David Foster Wallace

As I sat with my cup of coffee this morning, this quote popped into my mind and hasn’t left since.  I suppose there is a reason for it, (my muse is behind it most likely), but for the moment I’m just going to enjoy the wisdom of Wallace’s words.

And then I’m going to laugh . . .

I do things like get in a taxi and say, “The library, and step on it.”

– David Foster Wallace

Perhaps Wallace is lingering in my mind because of a prompt in my writer’s group this week.  If you could meet someone who was dead, who it would be and why?  I immediately thought of Wallace, as I always wish he was still around dispensing his humor and wisdom.  I’d love to shake his hand and ask him about the ending of The Pale King. 

Who would you want to meet?

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c.b. 2012