I tore through the whole of Wallace’s sprawling, inventive, and magnificent novel Infinite Jest in the middle of an academic term in college—it demanded my attention and kept me up very late for many nights running. It’s a wildly ambitious, sometimes exasperating, and absolutely fascinating book, and no doubt one that I’ll return throughout my life.
Of all of Wallace’s fiction, I think my favorite book is probably not Infinite Jest, but rather the story collection Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, which offers an effective balance of formal experimentation and genuinely moving storytelling. Perhaps Wallace’s greatest strength was his ability to fully put his heart into stories and forms that in the hands of many other writers would feel like mere technical exercises. Wallace’s work was often simultaneously richly philosophical and deeply felt.
I’m surprised and saddened to learn of his death. I’m sure he’ll be sorely missed by many.