David Foster Wallace

I think the work of David Foster Wallace, fiction and non-fiction both, is absolutely indispensable to the project of democracy, and so he will come up quite a bit in future posts.

Wallace died, far too young, almost three years ago now, and I still feel incredible sadness at his loss.  One thing that comforts me greatly though is that we can still hear his voice, because there are more than a few recordings of him reading his own work.  Many can be found at the David Foster Wallace audio project.  This one is him reading his story “Forever Overhead.”  I hear in it a genuine and generous and naked compassion for humanity.  As Carolyn Alcott said, “He saw people as we really are, and he tried to love us anyway.”  I think the story shows us, helps us really feel, what it would be like to be fully alive, attentive, and aware in the world.  What it would mean to be truly active.  Listening to it quite literally takes my breath away.  The audio is 25 minutes and takes some focused attention, but if you listen, I really do think (or at least hope) you will be happy you did.  You can find it here.


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