Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story by D. T. Max

Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story

By D. T. Max

  • Release Date: 2012-08-30
  • Genre: Biographies & Memoirs
Score: 4
4
From 75 Ratings
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Description

The acclaimed New York Times–bestselling biography and “emotionally detailed portrait of the artist as a young man” (Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times)

Since his untimely death by suicide at the age of forty-six in 2008, David Foster Wallace has become more than the representative writer of his literary generation—he has become a symbol of sincerity and honesty in an inauthentic age, a figure whose reputation and reach grow by the day. In this compulsively readable biography, D. T. Max charts Wallace’s tormented, anguished, and often triumphant battle to succeed as a novelist as he fights off depression and addiction to emerge with his masterpiece, Infinite Jest. Written with the cooperation of Wallace family members and friends and with access to hundreds of Wallace’s unpublished letters, manuscripts, and journals, this revelatory biography illuminates the unique connections between Wallace’s life and his fiction in a gripping and deeply moving narrative that will transfix readers.

Reviews

  • When Fame, Brilliance, and Some Greatness Are Not Enough

    5
    By CarrotBean
    Every truly brilliant kid struggles to achieve their own quirky potential. David Foster Wallace, like many of those brilliant kids, also struggled with depression and addiction. I read this book because I have loved Wallace's essay collections, "A Supposedly Fun Thing I Will Never Do Again" and "Consider the Lobster." After Wallace's death, I realized that some of his essays, like the titular "A Supposedly Fun Thing," were peppered with references to suicide and death. For the person who has battled the dragon of depression, that one sure escape from all pain is never too far from a mind that knows what it is to live in agony. Wallace killed himself while trying to ween himself off of an antidepressant that had kept him alive for most of his adult life. Many alcoholics in recover have the dangerous and mistaken idea that any addiction, even to life-saving anti-depressants, is not being truly drug and alcohol free. I hope this book puts that nonsense to rest forever. I liked this portrayal of Wallace as the mixed bag that most people are. The author had many people who knew Wallace intimately to tap into. Wallace had deep friendships and disastrous relationships. He had a love-hate relationship with fame and the fringe benefits that come with that. He was lucky to find a sympathetic editor while still earning his MFA at U of A in Tuscon, an editor who stayed with him for the rest of his life; although he came to caution other young writers that the worst thing that could happen to them was succeeding too early. He hated teaching, and yet was a beloved and caring teacher. He had many interesting quirks and phobias. He was endlessly critical of his own earlier works, and wanted to surpass the success he had with "Infinite Jest." It seems that he was blocked because nothing less than incandescent greatness would do. In the end, between his perfectionism and his depression, he could not bear to live another minute. Even the vigilance and love of a good woman, his wife Karen, did not save him. There's a saying in AA, "easy does it," that comes to mind. One is tempted to say in hindsight that had Wallace been a little easier on himself, and stayed on his meds, he might still be alive. But as anybody with this disease knows, when you are in the throes of it, the act of merely waking up in the morning can be unbearable agony. Nobody can judge what another human being with this disease can take. For some, though, this may be a cautionary tale about the toxic effect of perfectionism on an already tormented soul. May he rest in peace.

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