Jeffrey Eugenides Says Any David Foster Wallace Similarities in His New Novel Are Totally Coincidental

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC - APRIL 8: American writer Jeffrey Eugenides walks April 8, 2003 in Prague, Czech Republic. Euginedes won the Pulitzer Prize April 7, 2003 for fiction for his novel "Middlesex." He is in Prague for the Prague Writer's Festival. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images) Photo: Sean Gallup/2003 Getty Images

Jeffrey Eugenides's first novel in nine years, The Marriage Plot, comes out next month. As we previously noted, there is a character in it named Leonard Bankhead who seems to be based on David Foster Wallace. We're not the only ones to have noticed the connection: The Wall Street Journal asked Eugenides about the similarities. He denied them.

A number of early reviews noted similarities between Leonard and David Foster Wallace. Leonard wears a bandana and chews tobacco, and is a brilliant philosophical polymath who's depressive and stops taking his meds, all traits that match Wallace. Were you purposefully evoking him?

No. I started this in the '90s. It's the bandana that I think makes people think it was him. I was thinking like Axl Rose from Guns N' Roses, and other people I knew in college. It was popular to wear a bandana for people who would be in the co-op and play hacky sack. I think that was it.

Hmmm. Was it also popular at the time to have a hard time locating your saliva? We remain skeptical.

Nine Years After 'Middlesex' [WSJ]