David Foster Wallace and a Quiet Purging

Last we blogged I bragged. “I’ll read a slew of women and one man,” I wrote. Big talk.

I started off well–beautifully, sadly, amazingly, actually–with Yiyun Li’s A Thousand Years of Good Prayers and Jennifer Pashley’s States.

I had intended then to fold back the cover of Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook, but before I got to it, I was sucker punched–we all were–by David Foster Wallace’s death. In that dark and magnetic immediacy, that feeling-knowing-thinking he will never write another word, I sank into “Incarnations of Burned Children.” I kept the Harper’s Magazine link of his essays open on my laptop for a week, barely sleeping so I could read it all, afraid, I guess, that his words would disappear, too. My recommendation: start here–and have your dictionary handy. Then read his Brief Interviews with Hideous Men.

After that it’s felt like a quiet purging. I moved on, forgetting about gender, to those works that enticed me with darkness, thoughtfulness, more beauty and sadness. Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha, Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game, David Mura’s “A Male Grief: Notes on pornography and addiction”: an essay, and, for a dash of wildly, sickly funny in the dark, Rick Moody’s The Ice Storm.

And here we are. Next is (for the first time) Miquel de Cervantes Saavedra’s Don Quixote, and (for the second time) Richard Selzer’s Notes on the Art of Surgery.

A little healing, imaginary or otherwise, never hurt anybody.

Stacy Muszynski, copy editor
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