Gravity as We Near the Black Hole

So important.
To me.
This week.

Via @mattbucher, Monsterbeard has posted the audio of David Foster Wallace’s Kenyon speech.

Please listen. To the whole thing. If you don’t have time, just listen to Part Three.

You can buy the book This Is Water, the transcription of this speech. I, personally, don’t like how Little, Brown produced it because I don’t like bite-sized clips of Wallace. I like massive, undelineated gulps of his prose. I would have liked seven long paragraphs (single spaced) myself. But that doesn’t sell books.

I absolutely hate that David Foster Wallace is gone. HATE it. And I am nauseated that he was so tormented. Thank goodness we still have his writing. This second anniversary of his death is easier, a bit, than last year. Than the year before. Listening to the inappropriate laughter in that speech—you can hear him wince that people are amused at his description of selfish soullessness—and hearing how he gets somewhat cardboard-cut-out-ish about the suicide truths just makes the ache throb more today.

Go listen before the speech is taken down.

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7 thoughts on “Gravity as We Near the Black Hole

  1. I never heard that speech before. So true. It’s so hard to breathe through bullshit around you while everyone who’s bullshitting is so oblivious to the smell of their own shit.
    RIP wise fish.

  2. I have the book “This is Water,” but listening to the speech is so much more poignant to me. When I heard that DFW committed suicide, I was so unbelievably sad. I never got a chance to read Infinite Jest, but I loved, loved the short story collection “Girl with Curious Hair” and of course “Brief Interviews with Hideous Men.” I have read about half of “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again.” He was such a brilliant, inspired and inspiring guy. That’s the capital T Truth.

  3. Can somebody give jc an amen? Amen, jc.

    Fie, I’m not a huge fan of the short story collections, though there are certainly pieces in each that I like. The first thing I read by Wallace was Infinite Jest and it read like my thoughts, wiggled in my heart. It made me want to go back to grad school to run through the sprinklers of Capital L Literature again. Read Consider the Lobster. Not sure if I’m recommending Oblivion. Again, some pieces I love and some I don’t.

    I wrote to a fellow Wallace fan that the part in the speech where he discusses suicide is surprisingly stiff and stilted—it’s much more poignant on paper. And that the part about the grocery store is more hilarious in his voice than on the page.

    And that people laughing and agreeing where they’re supposed to be horrified at humanity’s lack of humanity is really uncomfortable. The whole speech is like Infinite Jest for me: funny and creepy and sad and real.

    I have to stop thinking about his wife. It KILLS me to think about his family.

  4. Well, this is a sad admission, since I just wrote a 500+ page novel, but I have a really hard time committing to any book that is over 300 pages unless I have to read it for class, or I’m just so inspired that I can’t seem to put it down. I mainly just don’t have time anymore, unless it’s fluff bullshit like Twilight. (Which I love, and abhor myself for loving, because it is so poorly written.) Anyway – one day I will get to Infinite Jest. It’s on my bookshelf right this second. I just need to get both kids in all-day school, I think, before I take the dive.

    Speaking of – one of his short stories about jumping off the high dive is just one of my favorite things to read in the world. Have you read that one? All it is is a little kid jumping off the high dive, but the emotion and description in it is freaking perfect. Just the best description I’ve ever read. Ahhhh. Should be required reading for creative types.

  5. That’s the first piece in Brief Interviews, is it not? I love that piece as well. It’s one of my top five favorites of his short fiction.
    If Infinite Summer taught us anything, it’s that you can successfully read Infinite Jest ten pages at a time. You don’t have to be swallowed by it. You just have to take one day at a time.
    God I love that novel. It opens doors in my mind I didn’t know I had, tickles corners of my mind I bring out only when it’s safe, and deeply moves me at my core.

  6. Btw, I’m late in saying this, but the monsterbeard link came to me via Matt Bucher. I didn’t even think to credit him, but one of our dear readers and a fiction fanatic whom I really dig mentioned this post to wallace-l and I just want the record straight. This post is via @mattbucher.

  7. I am a 8th grade teacher in NC and came across your site while researching some information about writing techniques for my English class this year. I just wanted to thank you for the great information and articles about writing, and let you know about a site we are putting together to help teachers find trusted resources.

    We would love it if you could write a few articles for us, but understand that you are probably busy. I have included a link to the site below in hopes that if you can’t write some resources for us that you can at least link to it, tweet it, or add it to your Facebook profile to help us spread trusted resources throughout the educational community.

    http://www.thefreeresource.com

    Thanks and keep the great resources coming :)

    Bre Matthews

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