Monday, December 17, 2012

Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story

Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace

Author: D.T. Max

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Reviewer: Lydia

            This is the most comprehensive work to date detailing David Foster Wallace’s life, career, and masterpieces. While many people only know him as the author of the 1200+ page behemoth known as Infinite Jest, Wallace was also a master of short stories and nonfiction essays.

Wallace was best known for championing a distinctive maximalist style, similar to Thomas Pynchon, Jonathan Franzen, and Don DeLillo, that is overloaded with information, pop culture references, and footnotes (some of which are as long as three pages). He was witty and extremely smart, a student of both philosophy and literature who was interested in literary theory, mathematics, and philosophical problems. Although D.T. Max never met Wallace, he consulted family and friends, Wallace’s letters, and even his own novels to discover the man behind the writing. D. T. Max shines as a biographer willing to tell the truth instead of embellishing or exaggerating his subject. Wallace emerges from the pages as a charismatic genius, yet still deeply flawed and wholly human.

            Sadly, Wallace committed suicide in 2008, after struggling with depression and addiction for more than half of his life. This biography exposes the real Wallace—good and bad—who desperately kept seeking the answer to that elusive question: “what, exactly, does it mean to be a human being?”