In the shadow of no David Foster Wallace

Yesterday I did something I haven’t done in a very long time, nothing. It was glorious, well mostly glorious. Sometimes I had to do battle with the voices in my head that said, “hey, you should get some work done slacker.” But then the other voice in my head said, “but, but, but look, this is the America’s Next Top Model marathon with Heather the and they go to China and that one girl quits.”

It was about that time that I turned off the TV and picked up a book.

I read In the Shadow of No Towers by Art Spiegelman, which is a book in response to 9/11. And, because, that wasn’t quite depressing enough I forged through “The Planet Trillaphon As It Stands In Relation to The Bad Thing” (that links to a .pdf of the story if you want to read it yourself) by David Foster Wallace, a story in the 10th Anniversary issue of Tin House.

Holy Crow! Can I just say it’s too soon? Way too soon.

I was not ready for this story about a young man suffering from depression, or as he calls it the bad thing. At one point he tries to kill himself in a bathtub full of electronics. Man.

It was a tough read, and with every sentence thoughts of Wallace’s own suicide last fall bounced through my head.

At times Walllace’s descriptions of depression were so explicit and, for someone who doesn’t suffer from the disease, easy to understand that I had to put the story down. It was just too much. The sadness and the grief and the loss was unbearable.

I wonder if there will ever be a time where it won’t feel too soon, and I wonder if that’s because I was already a sort of Wallace fan before his death. I can read Sylvia Plath’s poetry and, when I force myself to muddle through it in an attempt to make myself like it, The Bell Jar (which after reading it three times, I still don’t) and I don’t feel that level of sorrow. It’s more of a “tsk, that’s just too bad.”

And then after all that depressing material, suicide and 9/11 in one day, I made cookies, because you need to do something life affirming.

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2 Comments

  1. bakiwop 26.Jul.09 at 10:35 pm

    this is a very sweet post. that you enjoy books and authors and, simply, life so much to express and feel things the way you do.

    Reply
  2. Jodi 27.Jul.09 at 10:39 am

    Aww, thank you. You’re going to make me cry.

    Reply

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