Saturday, September 27, 2008
David Foster Wallace
David Foster Wallace (February 21, 1962–September 12, 2008) was an American novelist, essayist, and short story writer as well as a professor at Pomona College in Claremont, California. Wallace was best known for his 1996 novel Infinite Jest, which Time included in its All-Time 100 Greatest Novels (1923-2006). 
In 2008 Los Angeles Times book editor David Ulin called Wallace "one of the most influential and innovative writers of the last 20 years."
Wallace's first novel, The Broom of the System, garnered significant national attention and critical praise. Wallace moved to Boston, Massachusetts to pursue graduate studies in philosophy at Harvard University. He later abandoned them.
In 1992, at the behest of colleague and supporter Steven Moore, Wallace applied for and won a position in the English Department at Illinois State University. He had begun work on his second novel, Infinite Jest, in 1991, and submitted a draft to his editor in December 1993. After the publication of excerpts throughout 1995, the book was published in 1996.
Wallace published short fiction in Might, GQ, Playboy, The Paris Review, Harper's Magazine, Conjunctions, Esquire, Timothy McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, The New Yorker, and Science.
Wallace received the MacArthur Foundation "Genius Grant" in 1997. In 1997, Wallace was awarded the Aga Khan Prize for Fiction by editors of The Paris Review for one of the stories in Brief Interviews—"Brief Interviews with Hideous Men #6"—which had appeared in the magazine.
In 2002, he moved to Claremont, California, to become the first Roy E. Disney Endowed Professor of Creative Writing and Professor of English at Pomona College. He taught one or two undergraduate courses per semester, and focused on his writing.
Wallace's fiction was often concerned with irony. His essay "E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction", originally published in the small-circulation Review of Contemporary Fiction in 1993, proposes that television has an ironic influence on fiction writing, and urges literary authors to avoid irony. Wallace used many forms of irony, focusing on individuals' continued longing for earnest, unselfconscious experience and communication in a media-saturated society.
Wallace's novels often combine various writing modes or voices, and incorporate jargon and vocabulary (sometimes invented) from a wide variety of fields. His writing featured self-generated abbreviations and acronyms, long multi-clause sentences, and a notable use of explanatory footnotes and endnotes — often nearly as expansive as the text proper. He used endnotes extensively in Infinite Jest and footnotes in Octet as well as the great majority of his nonfiction after 1996. On the Charlie Rose talk show in 1997, Wallace claimed that the notes were used to disrupt the linearity of the narrative, to reflect his perception of reality without jumbling the entire structure. He suggested that he could have instead jumbled up the sentences, "but then no one would read it."