The life of David Foster Wallace

The life of David Foster Wallace

Every Love Story is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace

by D.T. Max

Granta (Allen & Unwin), $39.99 hb, 361 pp, 9781847084941

According to D.T. Max, ‘At the time of his tragic death by suicide in September 2008, David Foster Wallace was the foremost writer of his generation, the one who had forged the newest path and from whom the others, directly or indirectly, took their cues.’ Indeed, for someone desperate to escape the confines of self and wary of literary celebrity, Wallace endured more than his share of hype and admiration. This paradox is unsurprising when we consider Wallace’s repeated depictions of bleak coincidence in his fiction. Early in Infinite Jest (1996), footballer Orin Incandenza – the elder brother of physically deformed Mario and hyper-intelligent Hal – suffers a nightmare of being smothered by his mother’s disembodied head; when Orin wakes, his latest ‘Subject’ (sexual conquest) is watching a documentary about schizophrenia. Mediated by Orin, the voice-over describes its subject:

Read the rest of this article by subscribing to ABR Online for as little as $10 a month.

We offer a range of subscription options, including print, which can be found by clicking here. If you are already a subscriber, enter your username and password in the ‘Log In’ section in the top right-hand corner of the screen.

If you require assistance, contact us or consult the Frequently Asked Questions page.

Published in February 2013, no. 348
Shannon Burns

Shannon Burns

Shannon Burns is a freelance writer and member of the J.M. Coetzee Centre for Creative Practice. He is a former ABR Patrons' Fellow, and has published short fiction, poetry, and academic articles.

Leave a comment

Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.

NB: If you are an ABR Online subscriber or contributor, you will need to login to ABR Online in order to post a comment. If you have forgotten your login details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.