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The brilliance of the man is a sheer pleasure
on May 15, 2014
David Foster Wallace was interesting in everything he said. He was just an extraordinarily brilliant intelligent and interesting person. The 'brain voice' was that of a first- rate mind working at a level most of us can do are best to grasp some part of. I do not believe his political or social or religious of even aesthetic opinions constitute some remarkable new vision of what the world and humanity are all about. But I do believe his literary style, his way of talking and thinking and writing are those of a truly original great American literary mind. I also believe that there is a kind of benevolence radiating from his remarkable verbal gymnastics. The man had character, soul style and a vocabulary and mode of expression which would shame the late Bill Buckley.
What is also felt in these interviews is of course his great intensity, seriousness and sense of responsibility. The weight of the world is somehow upon his words and however lightly he plays them at some times one feels the still sad grating music pervading it all.
His interviewers like perhaps everyone else who met him must have felt something of the distance, of knowing themselves just not quite on the level of this particular true artist.
I enjoy reading interviews in general. I know the 'Last Interview' series is slight, reprints things easily available elsewhere, does not have usually some new and interesting piece. But it's good to have the pieces collected together.
This set opens with his well- known interview with Laura Miller about his 'Moby Dick' whale of a book, 'Infinite Jest' In the final interview Christopher Farley speaks with him about the piece he has done on John McCain. Wherever Foster- Wallace is he will not supply the conventional pleasing answer but will find a way of being surprising, if not always contrarian.
This guy was a great gift to the American and global literary world. Whether story, novel, essay, interview he delivered the goods.
PS One additional element of Foster-Wallace's appeal is his way of speaking about himself, his modesty, his questioning, his non- dogmatic way of reply. He is the thinking, questioning person who seems always open to sudden insight and revelation about himself and about the world. He of course gets A-plus for self- consciousness but this does not seem selfish, for he always seem to have empathy for the one he is addressing. His own loneliness is at the heart of his understanding of the loneliness of others, and his wanting and willing to listen to the one who is questioning him make his answers even more meaningful.