Excerpt from Rolling Stone article: The Lost Years & Last Days of David Foster Wallace.
Last night I had some time to kill and went to Borders, ended up reading this whole long article about D.F. Wallace. It’s very sad — he’d suffered from chronic depression, including hospitalizations, since high school or so. The suicide itself was far from a surprise; it had followed an earlier attempt, and he was in terrible terrible shape in the final months, trying to adjust to a new medication regime.
This is from a short story he published in an Amherst College literary magazine as an undergraduate:
You are the sickness yourself…. You realize all this…when you look at the black hole and it’s wearing your face. That’s when the Bad Thing just absolutely eats you up, or rather when you just eat yourself up. When you kill yourself. All this business about people committing suicide when they’re “severely depressed;” we say, “Holy cow, we must do something to stop them from killing themselves!” That’s wrong. Because all these people have, you see, by this time already killed themselves, where it really counts…. When they “commit suicide,” they’re just being orderly.
When I heard about his death, aside from sadness, I had a strong feeling of disappointment and of having been cheated of what he would have written in the future. But this article suggests that his depression was so overwhelming that it was not clear he would have ever been able to emerge from it well enough to write another novel. (Although perhaps he just never received the proper treatment and it could have been different.)
On a more light-hearted note, the most amusing detail in the article (not in this excerpt) is that he went through an Alanis Morissette obsession in the early 90s (I think) during which he had a huge poster of her on his wall. This succeeded long Melanie Griffith and (get this) Margaret Thatcher obsessions.
Here’s a NY Times article about a recent service held for Wallace.