Sunday, September 14, 2008

Tom Wolfe: Fiction today sucks

Noted author Tom Wolfe, on the state of fiction in an interview with Time Magazine:
"There's so little of it now that it's pathetic, and it's pathetic all over. Writers come from master of fine arts programs now. If you add up the college education of Steinbeck, Hemingway and Faulkner, you get to spring break of freshman year."
Harsh. Do you agree?

[Via Jacket Copy]

David Foster Wallace, R.I.P.

Sad news tonight -- writer David Foster Wallace was found dead in his home. From the AP:

David Foster Wallace, the author best known for his 1996 novel "Infinite Jest," was found dead in his home, according to police. He was 46.

Wallace's wife found her husband had hanged himself when she returned home about 9:30 p.m. Friday, said Jackie Morales, a records clerk with the Claremont Police Department.

Wallace taught creative writing and English at nearby Pomona College.

"He cared deeply for his students and transformed the lives of many young people," said Dean Gary Kates. "It's a great loss to our teaching faculty."

Wallace's first novel, "The Broom of the System," gained national attention in 1987 for its ambition and offbeat humor. The New York Times said the 24-year-old author "attempts to give us a portrait, through a combination of Joycean word games, literary parody and zany picaresque adventure, of a contemporary America run amok."

Published in 1996, "Infinite Jest" cemented Wallace's reputation as a major American literary figure. The 1,000-plus-page tome, praised for its complexity and dark wit, topped many best-of lists. Time Magazine named "Infinite Jest" in its issue of the "100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005."

I enjoyed Wallace's short stories a great deal, and always had him on my short list of novelists I wanted to spend more time with once I got the chance.

If you're looking for a good starting point, check out Girl With Curious Hair, a superb short story collection published in 1989.

Link roundup:

New York Times obit
The Onion A.V. Club obit
Sarah Weinman on DFW
L.A. Times' Jacket Copy book blog obit