Suicide What do you think is uniquely magical about fiction?


Oh, Lordy, that could take a whole day! Well, the first line of attack for that question is that there is this existential loneliness in the real world. I don’t know what you’re thinking or what it’s like inside you and you don’t know what it’s like inside me. In fiction I think we can leap over that wall itself in a certain way. But that’s just the first level, because the idea of mental or emotional intimacy with a character is a delusion or a contrivance that’s set up through art by the writer. There’s another level that a piece of fiction is a conversation. There’s a relationship set up between the reader and the writer that’s very strange and very complicated and hard to talk about. A really great piece of fiction for me may or may not take me away and make me forget that I’m sitting in a chair. There’s real commercial stuff can do that, and a riveting plot can do that, but it doesn’t make me feel less lonely.

There’s a kind of Ah-ha! Somebody at least for a moment feels about something or sees something the way that I do. It doesn’t happen all the time. It’s these brief flashes or flames, but I get that sometimes. I feel unalone — intellectually, emotionally, spiritually. I feel human and unalone and that I’m in a deep, significant conversation with another consciousness in fiction and poetry in a way that I don’t with other art


An extract of a past interview by Salon with novelist David Foster Wallace who recently died. By hanging himself. Came across this while browsing my google reader, updates through Playing the Edge

Though I’ve not read any of Wallace’s work, I’m definitely curious now. Oblivious and Infinite Jest look very interesting.

Albert Camus’ the Myth of Sisyphus comes to mind. “There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy.

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2 Responses to Suicide

  1. Cliff Burns says:

    Wallace is not an easy read but he’s a worthy one. Try his short story collection first, THE GIRL WITH CURIOUS HAIR. It’s the most accessible of his works, in my view.

    The man was unique, brilliant and, apparently, a decent fellow.

    This is a real loss–he was only 45, just think of the body of work he still had ahead of him…

  2. debonaire says:

    Cliff: thanks for the comment, will keep that tip in mind – I wouldn’t otherwise have guessed where best to start reading Wallace. Though only 45, he seems to have accomplished some šŸ™‚

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