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Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace Hardcover – August 30, 2012
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Top Customer Reviews
I remember the exact moment when I heard that Wallace took his life (as I suspect did everyone who is reading this book, who read DFW before his death). It was like a brother or best friend had died. He was my rock star--my John Lennon, Peter Gabriel, and Bob Dylan all rolled up into literature. He wasn't yesterday's insurgent Kurt Cobain, he was today's voice--the insurrectionist of the insurrection, the anti-ironist and seeker of exigent summits.
D.T. Max evinces respect, compassion, and objectivity toward this now lionized author he has never met, in his biography assembled from the contributions of friends, family, lovers, AA comrades, colleagues, fellow writers, and epistolary confidants.
"Fiction is what it's like to be a f*****g human being," Wallace said, and Max shows us the utter turbulence of this writer's life, a man who lived inveterately with the howling fantods (a phrase from his mother, the grammarian, used potently in INFINITE JEST).
David was a depressed, addicted, chaotic genius, a man who felt that he never lived up to his lofty ambitions as a writer or a person. He was both fascinated and repulsed by the TV culture and how media hijacks and propagandizes public and private minds--his constant themes in his essays, short stories, and of course, IJ.Read more ›
There were two areas that I found not clearly explained or explored. One was Wallace's relationship with his Mother. The second was Wallace's relationship with the writer Mary Karr. The level of rage allegedly exhibited by Wallace towards Mary Karr despite the fact that he is clean, sober and on antidepressants is baffling to me. Did he really try to throw Mary Karr out of a moving vehicle? It is one bit of information that without a police report and witnesses I felt could have been left out of the story.
The biography is well paced. Although I knew at the beginning that David Foster Wallace would commit suicide, I did not know what event(s) would push him over the edge. Without giving away the final scenes of the book, it was not what I expected.
Writers, people in recovery, people familiar with severe depression and those who have admired David Foster Wallace's work, including countless students he taught over the years will glean much insight from this biography. Wallace's wisdom grew with his sobriety. One cannot help but like him and feel great compassion towards him. It made me wish I had known him and had the opportunity to take one of his courses.
This is one of the best biographies I have ever read.
Note to D.T. Max: In your footnotes, Chapter 5, 26. It should read "Poor me, poor me, pour me another drink." We alcoholics could never stop with just one.
What's missing is any insight into the most important relationships in Wallace's life, his complex love/hate with his mother, sister and father, a man who comes off as distant, but possibly because Max has almost nothing to say about him. Max describes a happy and functional family and then reverses course in a paragraph, without explaining how this happy family was torn apart by divorce, with Wallace's mother moving out of the house for a year.
This may be the result of limited access to the Wallace family, but it leaves a lot of material for a future biographer.
"Every Love Story is a Ghost Story" is loaded with pedantic discussions of modernism and post-modernism and other arcane academic pursuits. What this reader wanted was more flesh and blood living. It reads more like journalism than biography.
As a fan of DFW I appreciate Max's effort to tell his story but suspect a more insightful biography awaits us.
But... I am fascinated at how he analyzed our media-crazed, pop culture world and carefully expressed his ideas using humor and fiction. This biography left me eager to read "Infinite Jest" to hear Wallace's voice directly.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Beautifully written, engaging, and thorough. It seems appropriate that the biography of David Foster Wallace should make clear the necessity of the artist's story in understanding... Read morePublished 6 days ago by Thaddeus
Enjoyed this book very much. Brilliant man with a lot of demons.Published 8 months ago by R. David Guidry
After having completed a second read of "Infinite Jest" I was curious about the person who had written such an incredible thing. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Freddy McCall
I got choked up so many times reading this. Some people like to think that all praise is hagiography and that they will sound smarter if they can think up something nasty to say... Read morePublished 8 months ago by OneMoreThing
i enjoyed reading about DFW a lot more than reading DFW.
D.T. Max's account puts in perspective for me where DFW fits in contemporary American lit. Read more
Helped some. DFW a little over my head but even then I ingested something. What more can I say? Done well..Published 10 months ago by susan a wensel
An excellent biography of DFW. Very well written and researched. If you want to know the details of DFW's relatively short life then you will not be disappointed with this book. Read morePublished 14 months ago by BrokenArrow