EVERY LOVE STORY IS A GHOST STORY:
A Life of David Foster Wallace.
By D. T. Max.
Viking. 356 pp. $27.95
In 2008, David Foster Wallace hanged himself at his home in California. He had emerged on the literary scene in 1987 with his first novel, Broom of the System, but is probably best known for Infinite Jest, published nine years later. The famously hefty novel, with its hundreds of endnotes, rendered America’s relationship with its appetites in an original voice—a new language that was sprawling and obsessive in a way that suited its subject. By the time Wallace died, he had also published three short-story collections, two collections of essays, and a book-length pop-science essay on infinity. Last year, his longtime publisher released The Pale King, the novel he was working on when he died. Wallace accumulated detractors as well as fanboys, but few neglected to acknowledge his outsize talent and uncommon intellect. His impact was such that only four years after his death, we have a biography on our hands—New Yorker staff writer D. T. Max’s Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story.
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