LJNDawson.com, Consulting to the Book Publishing Industry
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David Foster Wallace

I can't keep ignoring this one.

I was a writing student at Mount Holyoke in the mid-1980s. I took every writing course they offered, went to the Bennington Writing Workshops, and ran out of writing courses by my junior year. I was going to come to New York and Be A Writer. Ambitious as I was, I also wanted to Be An Editor and pretty much run my own publishing house - world domination!

My kids' dad went to Amherst...with David Foster Wallace - an English major, he was a year behind DFW. When "The Broom of the System" came out, I read it (at my ex's behest) and loved it. Loved. It.

Reading these obituaries hurts. DFW was 3 years older than I am. He did things - built up English departments, wrote jaw-dropping works of genius, inspired and motivated hundreds if not thousands of students. 

And suffered from debilitating depression. I know a few things about that as well. It runs in my family, and I have had numerous friends who suffer from it also. Depression is not romantic - it is a physical disease. Few who have it actually run out of options, but I found Wallace's father's observations to be most haunting:

He’d been in the hospital a couple of times over the summer and had undergone electro-convulsive therapy. Everything had been tried, and he just couldn’t stand it anymore.

For those of us who are intimate with the ravages of depression, this is terrifying. Because some people do - truly do - run out of options, and find themselves with utterly no relief. And some of these people are extraordinarily gifted and inspirational and shine a beam of light onto life in a way that nobody else possibly could.


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