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The rest is silence

America's universities sheltered David Foster Wallace—and almost ruined his writing

By Julian Gough   October 2008

Like James Joyce, David Foster Wallace will be remembered—and, by some, fiercely loved—for a book which 99.999 per cent of the world’s population will never read to its end.

Wallace hung himself in his home in California on 12th September 2008, aged 46. So Infinite Jest (1996), his second novel, turns out to be his final one, and lines and paragraphs throughout its 1,079 pages now flash in neon: “Help me, I’m depressed.” The neon will fade. It will be a magnificently ambitious book again. But right now it reads like a suicide note.

Wallace’s subjects were depression, addiction,…

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