I’ve just finished reading a new book (2010) by David Lipsky, the title of this post. It’s about a five-day road trip author David Foster Wallace took in 1995 at the behest of Wallace’s publisher Little, Brown to promote his then new novel Infinite Jest, with Lipsky in tow, on assignment from Rolling Stone magazine. Although the article Lipsky was supposed to write was never published, nor do I know if it was even written, we now have instead this full-length glossed transcription of many hours of taped and notated conversation engaged in while traveling and when Wallace returned home to Bloomington, Illinois, where he was then teaching.
Because the original project was scratched, Lipsky was able to prepare this book in its place, in knowledge of the sad irony that Wallace died in September 2008, eight years after the book tour. Wallace died a suicide, apparently the long-time victim of deep depression.
Infinite Jest was Wallace’s magnum opus, a much lauded and challenging masterpiece of over a thousand pages. Although he wrote numerous other works, and was working on another novel at the time of his death, which was complete enough that his publisher plans to release it, Wallace never completed another entire novel in his lifetime.
The funny thing is, I wouldn’t know from personal experience how good or otherwise Infinite Jest is, because despite now knowing a great deal about the man David Foster Wallace, I have yet to read a single word of anything he wrote except the first page of Infinite Jest, which I decided to save for another month, or perhaps another lifetime. But I will add that the transcription of the road trip Lipsky took with Wallace is insightful and often very funny. Wallace was obviously an unending source of original thought.
The real reason I’m writing this review is because I just created this blog in order to audition WordPress, trying to see if I can make it do what I want and need for future work. If I like it, I may even come back and complete this article, particularly if I get around to reading Infinite Jest in the meantime.
Thank you for reading.
Appended on August 7, 2011: I’ve since read Wallace’s collection of short stories Brief Interviews With Hideous Men, which except for occasional patches of brilliance I did not care for, largely because of the subject matter, and I’m currently reading the essay collection A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, one of the most enjoyable and well-written books I’ve encountered in ages.
- David Foster Wallace’s Personal Files (newsweek.com)