As someone with an English minor who has aspired to be something of a writer on several occasions, I am always a little deflated when one of the great writers of our time dies, even if I had not read any of their work (although it’s always a little hard to see humanity lose any great mind, not just a writer). Maybe you’ve heard: David Foster Wallace died this past weekend of a suicide by hanging. He’s a writer I had heard of, and heard about his greatness, but never had the chance, or I guess the desire, to read anything he’d written. Now I am sort of lamenting that fact, but one of the nice things about literature is that it can be read even after the author is dead, and it can still have all the beauty, meaning, and grace that it did when it was first published. So now is my chance to read some of his essays and probably, eventually, move into his thousand-page-long Infinite Jest (as an aside, why won’t wordpress let me underline words? How am I supposed to write a book title correctly? Italics work but not as well, I think). The only problem is now I have this dillema: do I start reading David Foster Wallace stuff right now, or do I put it off so I can read The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which I just bought?
Anyway, I have gotten a chance to read one of Foster Wallace’s works, a commencement speech he gave to the graduates of Kenyon University in 2005. I just read it this morning, and it’s the kind of brilliant speech that gives weight to all the opinions about his greatness as a writer and a thinker. Please go read it, you won’t be disappointed. Read it here.