For all my young and angry girls with your beautiful faces and stern agendas.
I mentioned on Twitter earlier today that I had managed to steal enough moments at work today to read David Foster Wallace’s ‘This is Water‘ in its entirety. The book is a transcription of a commencement speech Wallace gave in 2005 at Kenyon College in Ohio. It was the only such appearance he ever made.
Of course some industrious soul transcribed it from a video and it made its way around the internet, but the folks I correspond with apparently have little use for WASPy novelists with depression problems, so I hadn’t encountered it until now.
I don’t know if I would go as far as to call myself a fan of Wallace. I have not, nor will I ever read ‘Infinite Jest‘, and got so frustrated by endless meandering in the title essay of his collection ‘A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again‘, I tossed the book back on the shelf in irritation.
Yet I’m consistently blown away by his short stories. ‘Incarnations of Burned Children’ are the most startling and heartbreaking three pages I’ve ever read. And I was more disheartened by his suicide than I was expecting, devouring every lengthy article I could find on his career and body of work, so I was fascinated to see what this man might have told a group of college graduates as they prepared to make their way into the world.