David Foster Wallace Interview Outtakes

I read Infinite Jest over Christmas break after my first semester of law school. Actually, I started during finals and it is reflected on my transcript. I read the bulk of the book on a treadmill in a basement, running nowhere. I lost no weight, I got no healthier, but I was happier. For all of the sadness, I was happier. I finished the book supine on a couch in a one bedroom apartment in North Carolina and when I finished the last page, I returned to the first and felt my mind fall out.

The summer I should have been studying for the Virginia Bar Exam, I read Consider the Lobster. I would study in the food court of our local mall. The only two restaurants were Roman Delight and Panda Garden. Whenever suretyship and the rule against perpetuities grew too much for me, I would slip the white book out of my bag and read, forgetting for a while even the smell of old grease that filled the air. That summer there was a bat in the mall and I watched with delight as a security guard chased it all morning with a broom. I passed the Bar Exam.

David Foster Wallace’s unfinished final novel, The Pale King, will be published in thirty-two days. As is the case with many of you, I have a great deal of admiration for Wallace. To be honest, it goes beyond admiration to something else, but I will stop short of trying to describe what I feel. It was my intention to post an one of the many excellent interviews with him that are available, but then I came across this collection of outtakes from an 2003 interview for a German magazine and it just felt like the right thing to post. A shy, nervous human doing the best that he can.

It is not hard to be good but sometimes it is hard to be.