The heroism of your childhood entertainments was not true valor. It was theater…True heroism is minutes, hours, weeks, year upon year of the quiet, precise, judicious exercise of probity and care – with no one there to see or cheer. This is the world.
What David Foster Wallace was was a great writer but also what he was was a paragon of false modesty because in The Pale King he kept saying, ‘I don’t know if that makes sense at all’ or ‘I know I’m not explaining this as well as I should,’ but he is in fact explaining everything so precisely about whatever it is he thinks he’s failing to be so astute about. The Pale King seems messy, but is actually so clever and so full of awareness and witticisms and comedy and acknowledgments and denouncements of its undeniable cleverness, I can not help but treat it as a Christian Family would treat its bible, bookmarked at the Psalms section for easy reference on things that apply so concretely about life, like that! Every time I experience an impending inefficiency or if I feel like an attack of the stupids, I think, What Would Shane Drinion Do? Shane Drinion is the novel/”Memoir”‘s efficient, robotic, unfeeling man who goes through the motions of a seemingly truly boring life completely uncaring and unimpeded by its being boring. His and Meredith Rand’s conversations are so fake and so fantastical, it’s hard to believe they could ever exist. But really, fictional people exhibiting lifelike virtues is not a requirement. Ultimately they become the sort of characters that turn out to be the hardest to forget.
And so it has come to this, the last David Foster Wallace novel. It’s been said that it’s not going to be a Tupac/Jeff Buckley situation but an Amy Winehouse one. This is truly the last. That might sound sad but honestly, don’t be greedy. Infinite Jest alone is a mouthful. This may be the last book but if you’re the type who gets his morals, aspirations and philosophies from DFW, a shortage of sustenance coming from all the rest of his books will not not suffice. I know I’m not explaining this with any degree of efficiency but that’s that.