David Foster Wallace’s Family Speaks


The family of David Foster Wallace has spoken with Salon about the last few weeks of the author's life. It's a sad, interesting read, mostly because it seems as though his suicide wasn't as much of a shock for them as it was for most. As Elizabeth Wurtzel put it in her magazine piece on Wallace, "By appearances, it would have seemed to me that David was doing great, living in Southern California, writing terrific books and pieces, recently married, teaching at a prestigious college … Furthermore, I thought David, at 46, was at a safe age, when things are most likely to be okay or okay enough."

But Wallace's parents knew better. As has been previously reported, Wallace had recently been taken off his anti-depression medication when it began to have serious side effects. Afterward, he was hospitalized twice and underwent electroshock therapy. He took a medical leave from Pomona for the fall semester. He had lost a significant amount of weight. According to his father, at that point, "I don't think he'd been able to write for more than a year." "Inevitably our thought was, if only he could have held on a little bit longer," says his sister, Amy. "And then we realized, he did. How many extra weeks had he hung in there when he just couldn't bear it? So we're not angry at him. Not at all. We just miss him."

The last days of David Foster Wallace
Related: Beyond the Trouble, More Trouble [NYM]