Little, Brown, the publisher of Infinte Jest (1996) and five other books by David Foster Wallace, has organized a memorial for the author, who committed suicide on September 12 at age forty-six. On October 23 Wallace's friends and colleagues will gather in New York City at New York University's Skirball Center for the Performing Arts to share their words about the prolific fiction writer and essayist.
Wallace, who published his first novel, The Broom of the System (Viking, 1986), at the age of twenty-four, was known for his lush prose, which Bruce Weber of the New York Times called "prodigiously observant, exuberantly plotted, grammatically and etymologically challenging, philosophically probing, and culturally hyper-contemporary."
Wallace's other books include the 1,079-page novel Infinite Jest, which was published a year before the author received a MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant; the short story collections Girl With Curious Hair (Norton, 1989), Brief Interviews With Hideous Men (Little, Brown, 1999), and Oblivion (Little, Brown, 2004); and the essay collections A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again (Little, Brown, 1997) and Consider the Lobster and Other Essays (Little, Brown, 2005). Wallace's most recent book is McCain’s Promise: Aboard the Straight Talk Express with John McCain and a Whole Bunch of Actual Reporters, Thinking About Hope, published in June by Little, Brown imprint Back Bay Books.
"He was a huge talent, our strongest rhetorical writer," said Wallace's friend and fellow author Jonathan Franzen in an interview with Weber. "He was also as sweet a person as I’ve ever known and as tormented a person as I’ve ever known."
According to his father, Wallace had been medicated for depression for over twenty years and had recently undergone several unsuccessful alterations in treatment after suffering side effects from medication. "Everything had been tried," Wallace's father told the New York Times. "And he just couldn’t stand it anymore." Wallace's wife, Karen Green, found the author's body in their home in Claremont, California, on the evening of September 12.
Next Thursday's memorial, which is open to the public, will begin at 4 PM. The Skirball Center is located at 566 LaGuardia Place.