David Foster Wallace

"Fiction either moves mountains or it's boring; it moves mountains or it sits on its ass." [1]

“Once the first-person pronoun creeps into your agenda you’re dead, art-wise. That’s why fiction writing’s lonely in a way most people misunderstand. It's yourself you have to be estranged from, really, to work.[2]

Writing fiction takes me out of time. That’s probably as close to immortal as we’ll ever get. [8]

“We’d probably most of us agree that these are dark times, and stupid ones, but do we need fiction that does nothing but dramatize how dark and stupid everything is? In dark times, the definition of good art would seem to be art that locates and applies CPR to those elements of what's human and magical that still live and glow despite the time's darkness. Really good fiction could have as dark a worldview as it wished, but it'd find a way both to depict this world and to illuminate the possibilities for being alive and human in it.” [3]

I think I’m very honest and candid, but I’m also proud of how honest and candid I am—so where does that put me. [7]

"The point of the fish story is merely that the most obvious, important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about. Stated as an English sentence, of course, this is just a banal platitude, but the fact is that in the day to day trenches of adult existence, banal platitudes can have a life or death importance, or so I wish to suggest to you on this dry and lovely morning." [4]

“The next real literary ‘rebels’ in this country might well emerge as some weird bunch of 'anti-rebels,' born oglers who dare somehow to back away from ironic watching, who have the childish gall actually to endorse single-entendre principles. Who treat of plain old untrendy human troubles and emotions in U.S. life with reverence and conviction. Who eschew self-consciousness and hip fatigue. […] The old postmodern insurgents risked the gasp and squeal: shock, disgust, outrage, censorship, accusations of socialism, anarchism, nihilism. The new rebels might be the ones willing to risk the yawn, the rolled eyes, the cool smile, the nudged ribs, the parody of gifted ironists, the ‘how banal.’” [5]

“When I was younger I saw my relationship with the reader as sort of a sexual one. But now it seems more like a late-night conversation with really good friends, when the bullshit stops and the masks come off." [6]



1. From Bill Katovksy's David Foster Wallace: A Profile (1987)

2. Larry McCaffery Interview, 1992.

3. Larry McCaffery Interview, 1992.

4. This is Water, Kenyon College Commencement Speech (2005)

5.  From D.T. Max's Every Love Story is a Ghost Story (official biography), p. 157.

6. Every Love Story is a Ghost Story, p. 221.

7. Every Love Story is a Ghost Story, p. 240.

8. From Bill Katovsky's "David Foster Wallace: A Profile" (1987)