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Another Portland Blog

Monday, September 15, 2008

 

A stupid eulogy for a brilliant writer

I could never make any sense out of the words that came out of his fingers.

The superfluous footnotes, the run-on sentences, that passage in Infinite Jest about the guy addicted to MASH and when I bought a copy during my junior year of high school from a B.Dalton Booksellers at the other end of the food court where I worked at a frozen yogurt stand there was a snooty coworker who went to a better school than mine and he mocked the title, the same guy who would later get busted for stealing money from the safe and so there I sat, trying to make sense of those dense passages about addiction and tennis on the sticky floor of my teenage workplace, wearing a cow-colored apron, often hiding from customers as I fumbled back and forth between the text and all those footnotes and I gave up around page 750 but tried again in college one summer, fighting again through 800 pages before hurling it at a wall one night, leaving a mark below a roommate's Salvador Dali poster and now, some odd years later, that same copy is staring down at me from the tail end of my bookshelf as I type this, a yellowing batch of brilliance or pure, uncut literary wanking.

I'll never decide for myself which one because I don't think I have the balls to give a book that intimidating a third chance.

David Foster Wallace, 1962 - 2008

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