There were several forms of disbelief at the suicide of David Foster Wallace last November. First, there was disbelief at the basic fact of his death. Then, on learning the manner of it, there was a refusal to comprehend that someone so brilliant, so devoted to showing the richness of mental life, could be simultaneously so exhausted by this richness that he chose death as a solution. Finally, there was our childish refusal to accept that there would be no more. The two novels, three short-story collections, numerous non-fiction pieces- maybe half a million words -just did not seem enough. And we wanted to think this was not just our greed. We could not imagine that someone so engaged, so gifted, would not be, in spite of their depression, at work on something.
Well, even we are sometimes right, albeit twice a day. It seems that, yes, there is more. The New Yorker has an excerpt from ‘The Pale King’ which DFW had been at work on for years; the unfinished novel will be published in 2010, and apparently runs to two hundred thousand words. Also in the same issue, a long piece on DFW’s life and death, the best of its kind so far.
I suspect that when the book comes out, it will makes us feel better and worse.