Literary Birthday – 21 February – David Foster Wallace

David Foster Wallace was born 21 February 1962, and died 12 September 2008.

David Foster Wallace Quotes

  1. I do things like get in a taxi and say, ‘The library, and step on it.’
  2. One of the things that’s good about writing and practising writing is it’s a great remedy for my natural self-involvement and self-centredness.
  3. The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you.
  4. I often think I can see it in myself and in other young writers, this desperate desire to please coupled with a kind of hostility to the reader.
  5. Everything takes time. Bees have to move very fast to stay still.
  6. We’re all lonely for something we don’t know we’re lonely for. How else to explain the curious feeling that goes around feeling like missing somebody we’ve never even met?
  7. I had kind of a midlife crisis at twenty which probably doesn’t augur well for my longevity.
  8. The thing about people who are truly and malignantly crazy: their real genius is for making the people around them think they themselves are crazy. In military science this is called Psy-Ops, for your info.
  9. Good writing isn’t a science. It’s an art, and the horizon is infinite. You can always get better.
  10. Whatever you get paid attention for is never what you think is most important about yourself.
  11. Fiction is one of the few experiences where loneliness can be both confronted and relieved. Drugs, movies where stuff blows up, loud parties — all these chase away loneliness by making me forget my name’s Dave and I live in a one-by-one box of bone no other party can penetrate or know. Fiction, poetry, music, really deep serious sex, and, in various ways, religion — these are the places (for me) where loneliness is countenanced, stared down, transfigured, treated.
  12. I just think that fiction that isn’t exploring what it means to be human today isn’t art.
  13. I had a teacher I liked who used to say good fiction’s job was to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.
  14. Like any kind of infinitely rich art, or any infinitely rich medium, like language, the possibilities for improvement are infinite and so are the possibilities for screwing up and ceasing to be good in the ways you want to be good.
  15. Fiction’s about what it is to be a fucking human being.

Read: 3 Takeaways For Writers From David Foster Wallace

David Foster Wallace was an award-winning American novelist and short story writer. He is famous for his satirical works that explore American culture. He is best known as the author of Infinite Jest, which was named one of the 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to 2005 by Time magazine. The more than 1000-page novel, known for its subversive writing, gained a huge following. He was awarded the MacArthur Fellowship, a Lannan Literary Award, and a Whiting Writers’ Award. After struggling with depression for most of his life, he committed suicide when he was 46. Visit

Source for image: Steve Rhodes, CC BY 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 21st February 2013