David Foster Wallace, author of “Infinite Jest” and “Brief Interviews with Hideous Men,” along with several other works of postmodern fiction, took his life Sept. 12.
Wallace became an icon for postmodern literature and was celebrated in popular culture by celebrities including Madonna, who is said to have worn Wallace’s ubiquitous headband throughout the filming of “Evita.”
In five short years, he went from teaching creative writing at Illinois State University in 1992 (where I count myself fortunate enough to have had Wallace as an instructor) to publishing “Infinite Jest” in 1996, which became a “New York Times” best-seller and led to his earning a MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant” in 1997.
In 2002, Wallace departed Illinois State’s English department and relocated to Pomona College, where he was named the Roy E. Disney Endowed Professor of Creative Writing. Most recently, Wallace had been splitting his time teaching creative writing at Pomona, authoring several works of both fiction and nonfiction literature, and contributing to discussions at the Santa Fe Institute, a nonprofit research institute dedicated to the study of complex systems.
He was one of the most brilliant and overlooked authors of our generation and my only wish is that posterity will be kind in remembering the contributions he left to postmodern fiction and literature in general.