Tag Archives: sean kelly

David Foster Wallace was not famously depressive

The LA Review of Books, reviewing Hubert Dreyfus and Sean Kelly’s All Things Shining:

It may seem strange for a book about the good life to make such an extended example of Wallace, given that he was famously depressive and hanged himself.

No!  David Foster Wallace was not famously depressive.   Lots of people who read him very, very thoroughly, including me, didn’t know he suffered from depression until after his death.  His depression is only intermittently present in his writing and never governs it.  To read his books as a warm-up to his suicide is to waste them.

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A Supposedly Shining Thing

My friend Sean Kelly has a really interesting new book coming out:  All Things Shining:  Reading the Western Classics to Find Meaning in a Secular Age (with Hubert Dreyfus.) Lest that sound retrograde, note that the circle of “Western Classics” is drawn broadly enough to include David Foster Wallace.

The book has a blog, as books do.  Today’s entry is actually a short conversation between me and Sean, about my favorite paragraph in Wallace’s essay “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again,” and what it has to do with Sean’s argument about Wallace, Nietszche, Melville, and the ocean.  Sean was kind enough to let me read the chapter on Wallace in advance, and it’s great; I hope other DFW enthusiasts will read it, and the rest of the book too.

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