In August 2004, as always, I received my monthly issue of Gourmet magazine. I was working at the time as a counselor in Camp Moshava and added the magazine to the bathroom stash for myself and my campers to read. I cherish my Gourmet subscription because in addition to its culinary appeal (and my possible crush on editor Ruth Reichl), it usually has some pretty good writing, especially in its features.
When I finally got to it, probably on hamburger day, I found a curious article called “Consider the Lobster” by a man who I had never heard of before named David Foster Wallace. The article was a profile piece on the annual Maine Lobster Festival, and questioned the practice of boiling animals alive and eating them. As much as I love my meat, the article was well written and extremely thoughtful.
Fast forward a few years. My roommate (who happened to be my co-counselor in camp in July 2004 when that issue of Gourmet came out”) develops his own potential crush on a writer. His was on David Foster Wallace. I did not realize it until I saw his book, Consider the Lobster: and Other Essays that this was that guy who wrote the article in Gourmet that summer. They tell me that his magnum opus, a novel called Infinite Jest, is undoubtedly one of the most important works in the postmodern canon.
David Foster Wallace hanged himself in his California home last Friday night. It was undoubtedly a major loss to the literary world.
Here are my friend’s posts about David Foster Wallace from his blog. I put the link there just so you can get an idea of what he meant to some of his fans.
Here is a piece from today’s New York Times about Wallace and his legacy.
As a small memorial, I am posting an excerpt of him reading what he calls “a brief chunklette” from the essay “Consider the Lobster” that I read in Gourmet magazine years ago. From it, through his writing, offbeat thinking, and sharp observation, you will hopefully get an idea of what type of person he was.
This one’s for you, DFW.