It was a strange and horrible sensation seeing the headline announcing author David Foster Wallace’s death as I turned a page of the Sunday paper. I gasped—a reaction I’d never had before upon receiving bad news. Perhaps some things are so surprising, and so unmooring, that we unconsciously suck in air to remind ourselves that we’re still alive. I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that, after a moment passed, I burst into tears. Like a 15-year-old’s dreamy adulation for a rock star, I’d maintained into my 30s a wide-eyed love for anything written or said by the man. Even when I didn’t like or fully understand something he wrote, I found myself making excuses and assuming I simply wasn’t smart enough to get it. I didn’t like thinking this way, particularly about a writer whose work glimmered with critical reflection, but the connection I felt to him through my interpretation of his oeuvre and his general life views, ran so deep that I couldn’t help myself. One of my heroes, an artistic anchor by which I steadied myself in the world, had hanged himself.
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