Thursday, March 5, 2009

Dear Jackass

OK, I get it. You've decided not to like David Foster Wallace. Or, seemingly, decided to hate him. It's fine. With me, I mean. For you, it's a loss. Your loss. But I respect your experience: You didn't like Infinite Jest -- felt violated, or felt some trust violated, by its ending, or by its length and the promise you felt went unfulfilled. I mean, sure, he also wrote some excellent essays/reportage. And the short stories. See, even I am not a total Infinite Jest convert; I love the last two books of short stories, and the essays, but didn't absorb or connect with Infinite Jest on my first read through. Of course, in my case, I assume the shortcoming is mine, where you assume it's DFW's. This might be connected to your oth-- the other issue. Let's not call it your other issue. The other issue is that Wallace knew a lot of words, and what they meant, and what they connoted, and in each instance he preferred to use the one he meant. You seem to regard this as a sort of showing off, intellectual braggadocio or something. Well, that's fine too. You don't have to care that other people like the writing. I don't know, maybe you think no one should write about astrophysics, because you don't get that either. Probably you're against the existence of Popular Mechanics. Is Popular Mechanics even around anymore? Well, if it's not, that just proves your point, am I right? Anyway, I also know he has a vocal following, and that can be annoying too. I'm sure it seems quite daring to be in the vanguard of a blacklash against it. You think the footnotes were cutesy. Any or all of the above. It's not important.

So OK, we've established that you hate DFW, even though you've read either very little or none of his work. And seriously, I'm OK with that. How could I not be? You want to seethe over footnotes? Have at it. I just have one favor to ask. Could you please shut the hell up about it? Could you please stop being so proud of it, or of being contrarian, or of whatever impulses have led you to write about it? I don't like Madonna. I don't like tomatoes. I don't like my cousin Mervyn. I also don't write 1,000 words about it. I mean, who would care?

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