Like a few other people I know, I found Wallace because of a New Yorker profile. Obviously (I thought), the thing to do was to start with Infinite Jest. When I was 235 pages into it, my dentist asked me what it was about. When I couldn’t answer, I decided it was time to bail out. Several people suggested I try his non-fiction. I chose Consider the Lobster. The essays are amazing. His footnotes and I’m not sure what to call what goes on in the essay, “Host,” perhaps foot-boxes are better writing than most people offer in their regular prose. Wallace is outstandingly insightful and asks great questions. At the risk of mistaking writing for psychology, after a while it becomes possible to think you are following his train of thinking and regretting that he’s no longer around to ask his questions and make his connections. “Authority and American Usage” appealed to the English geek in me. “Up, Simba” made me wonder what would have happened if the 2000 election was McCain vs. Gore. His take on Updike is right on.
I loved the book and it made me sad. Wallace died too soon. We need him now.