Wallace was the writer who first inspired me to explore creative writing. I picked up Brief Interviews in a bookstore when I was fifteen on a whim. After three pages I already began asking myself questions about writing that I had never thought to ask before. His writing was seminal to my development as an artist and a writer.
I used up my karma the semester before he arrived taking his advanced creative writing class with Fitch so I never got to take one of his classes. By that time I had already moved away from creative writing as a serious pursuit. When I’d walk to my dorm from Frary I’d sometimes see him biking home in some bizarre outfit and reflect upon how he and I shared bits of the same daily routine but experienced it very differently.
I showed up outside his office one day, pacing back and forth with my worn hard-bound copy of Brief Interviews. I know in his heart he probably found my appearance a nuisance – Wallace made his feelings known about fans – but nonetheless he invited me to come in and sit down and before I knew it we were talking about art and literature and our families.
He was warm and endlessly fascinated. He displayed a quality that I have come to appreciate in a number of former professors which is that he always paused before he spoke and you could see that super computer inside his brain processing raw data into finely crafted thoughts.
When I heard the news the first thing I thought was how could someone who understands so much more about this world take their own life? I am still struggling to make some sort of sense out of it. He always wrote as an outsider but I never thought he believed that he was so alone.