Miss Letting-Go-Getting

Howling Fantod
September 18, 2008, 3:54 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I was bored in class last night, and in an effort to keep myself awake I started reading all of the tribute pieces to David Foster Wallace at McSweeney’s, and then in turn started bawling. Silly, I know.

I didn’t know the guy. I’ve read some of his essays and struggled with Infinite Jest over and over and over again, but by the time I was finally done with it, I had a new favorite author and literary hero. I never knew much about the man himself, but through the loving words of his students, colleagues and friends am learning that in addition to being a genius, he was also a kind and gentle soul. I think those might be rarer than literary geniuses, which makes his untimely death that much harder.

This one, by another of my favorite authors Zadie Smith, hit me the most:

“He was my favourite. I didn’t feel he had an equal amongst living writers. We corresponded and met a few times but I stuttered and my hands shook. The books meant too much to me: I was just another howling fantod. In person, he had a great purity. I had a sense of shame in his presence, though he was meticulous about putting people at their ease. It was the exact same purity one finds in the books: If we must say something, let’s at least only say true things.1 The principle of his fiction, as I understand it. It’s what made his books so beautiful to me, and so essential. The only exception was the math one, which I was too stupid to understand. One day, soon after it was published, David phoned up, sincerely apologetic, and said: “No, look … you don’t need anything more than high school math, that’s all I really have.” He was very funny. He was an actual genius, which is as rare in literature as being kind—and he was that, too. He was my favourite, my literary hero, I loved him and I’ll always miss him.

1 And let’s say them grammatically.

—Zadie Smith

Crap, I’m crying again. So silly.

Read them all at McSweeny’s.


Miss LGG


2 Comments so far
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This helped some things make more sense for me:


Comment by DOB

Thanks DOB. That does help.

Comment by Jenn

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