Je Banach, whose fiction has appeared in Esquire and is engaged in a collaborative fiction project with Jonathan Lethem, sent us these words on David Foster Wallace's suicide, which we share with you today.
With Great Abandon: The Perils of a Profession
A Note to Writers upon the Passing of David Foster Wallace
From the time we are young, if we are so lucky to have coaches and supporters, we are encouraged to find the one thing that we were meant to do, that we were born to do, and we are encouraged to commit to it with great abandon. We are not told that this thing will find us. That once we begin we will be unable to stop. For those who have committed to writing, who are unable to stop as if they were a junkie, who simply can not and will not stop, ever, the recognition will come easily of the falsity of that pale dream of Author sitting wistfully beneath a willow tree, ruminating on beauty and joy. Writing is lonely. It is gruesome. Hours and hours spent inside one’s own head, following each question to every possible conclusion. A breeding ground for the discovery of things that are grim. That are incomprehensible. This is to say nothing of the process that follows when the pen is laid down. In 2007, when Vanity Fair asked Norman Mailer who he identified with most, he answered Hemingway because “his suicide suggested the unseen perils” of this profession. For those of us who belong to a different generation, if we were asked the same question, we might answer with this same response, but instead of Hemingway there is David Foster Wallace’s name being passed over our lips. The message is clear: There is danger here. But the exchange between writer and reader is a hopeful one. There is, in this place, possibility. To engage in this task with great abandon is not to abandon all else.