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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.
He was only forty-six when he killed himself, which helped explain the sense of loss readers and critics felt.
He conjured the world in two-hundred-word sentences that mixed formal diction and street slang, technicalese and plain speech; his prose slid forward with a controlled lack of control that mimed thought itself.
“What goes on inside is just too fast and huge and all interconnected for words to do more than barely sketch the outlines of at most one tiny little part of it at any given instant,” he wrote in “Good Old Neon,” a story from 2001.
In the interview with Mc Caffery, he said, “It seems like the big distinction between good art and so-so art lies . Even now I’m scared about how sappy this’ll look in print, saying this.
And the effort to actually to do it, not just talk about it, requires a kind of courage I don’t seem to have yet.” He also said, “All the attention and engagement and work you need to get from the reader can’t be for your benefit; it’s got to be for hers.”One of the great pleasures in reading Wallace is to watch him struggle to give the reader her due.
The book comes to center on a halfway-house supervisor named Don Gately, a member of Alcoholics Anonymous, who, with great effort, resists these enticements.
“What’s unendurable is what his own head could make of it all,” Gately thinks near the end.
He was known for endlessly fracturing narratives and for stem-winding sentences adorned with footnotes that were themselves stem-winders.
Such techniques originally had been his way of reclaiming language from banality, while at the same time representing all the caveats, micro-thoughts, meta-moments, and other flickers of his hyperactive mind.
His first novel, “The Broom of the System,” published in 1987, tells of a young woman who worries that she might exist only as a character in a story.
The book suggests that the world should not be taken too seriously: life is an intellectual game, and words are the pieces on the board.
“But he could choose not to listen.” Through the example of Gately, “Infinite Jest” offered readers an oblique form of counsel, but Wallace had mixed feelings about the book.