After reading this rambling blogger broadside about Wallace (from someone who should, really know better) in yesterday’s Times, it seems like a good moment to point something out:
People can bitch and moan and whine about David Foster Wallace being to blame for this-or-that trend in the written word, or for being impenetrable, or for being long-winded, or whatever, but pretty much none of those people will write anything as inventive or as widely read as Infinite Jest, either.
Obviously writing about books involves criticism (that’s why they call it “criticism”), but now that we have some distance from his suicide I’m perceiving a bit of piling-on by wannabe pseudotransgressive pundits. Put simply, snarking about Infinite Jest or his other work now that he’s gone is kind of tiny. My thinking is that, just as with any other serious work, you need to have something genuinely interesting to say. Noting that Wallace wrote in a very conversational style, and that — holy cats! — this has become the norm online isn’t a particularly sharp observation. Newton and the Times both know better.