david foster wallace–lavishly admired depressive and novelist who killed himself eight years ago–is the subject of three new books now reviewed by thomas meaney, who concludes, in a mixed metaphor of baroque exuberance, that:
to be the master distiller of the times for a generation is no small feat. It requires a willingness to dirty your hands in the culture to a point at which most novelists would flinch. It means being willing to swallow boredom whole.
wallace’s greed for drugs was, apparently, as epic as the taste for tedium meaney ascribes to him, but neither could numb his life-consuming depressions.
he poured his preoccupations with modern life’s minutiae into knowing post-modernist prose, intellectually flashy, emotionally absent.
his reverential treatment of items which used to be thought unworthy of such (TV pre-eminent among them) is getting tired and dated today, but his books are beautifully emblematic of his time.