Author David Foster Wallace hanged himself on Friday. I just spent twenty minutes writing that sentence, but there is no prettier way to say it. I was in the car when I heard and broke down in tears, partly because the person I most wanted to call and tell first is no longer part of my life. And I have tears in my eyes writing this now.
I fell a little bit in love with Wallace in 1996 after reading Infinite Jest. I cannot count how many copies of that book I bought and passed along to friends. I wanted them to see a part of me through it. I loved him darkly; I loved his darkness. I didn't see the humor in the book that so many reviewers saw - the same book that won him a genius grant - but I did see the genius. And I remember how many times I told fellow writers and friends, "I want to be a writer like that." I meant it.
And I'm sad to have to revise the statement. I've been to some dark places, I've pulled myself out of them more times than I'd like to admit. I know how I get when I allow myself to wade in too deep, when I'm writing fiction, what I'm like when I start acting like the character I'm writing for.
My heart hurts because I do get it, and at the same time I also understand the impact suicide has on the people who love the person who takes his own life.
I don't want to be a writer like that.