[READ:April 19, 2010] Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself [Afterword]
I was pretty excited to get back to work (!) and find the final two Bolaño books that I wanted to read. (I had planned to read all of Bolaño’s published-in-English works before finishing 2666, except, of course for The Savage Detectives, which is very large (and which is, ironically, the book of his that I wanted to read first–before I got involved in the madness of 2666–and for Amulet, which is a novella based on a character in Savage (and therefore should be read after it, right?). These two books are Romantic Dogs and The Distant Star.
But then I saw it, the one thing that could arrest my Bolañomania: the David Lipsky book about David Foster Wallace. I didn’t realize it was coming out so soon, and in fact I had forgotten it was coming at all. But there it was. Well, I read the blurb, I saw the cover, I read the details, and I knew there was no way I’d be reading anything but that for the next few days.
At this point, I have read only the introductory materials (a preface, an introduction and an afterward). And that Afterward itself is an emotionally wrenching portrait of DFW. The mosty detailed, beautifully excruciating look at what DFW’s life was like during his last year and ahalf.
I don’t pretened to know much about DFW himself, or to feel like I knew him (I “met” him at a book signing for maybe 45 seconds), or to act like yes, this is a truly definitive portrait. I’d loved his works, and had definitely felt affected by him. And then I had this nebulous sense of sadness in his life and a disappointment about how he ended his life. And part of me thinks it’s none of my business about what he did or why.
But in this afterward, Lipsky (whose whole book is a 5 day long conversation with DFW) presents, through the points of view of family and friends, pretty explicitly what DFW went through in that last year. And I was incredibly moved by the agony that he must have been in, and how difficult it must have been for his family to see him like that.
The book itself is more fun, lighter, a whimsical car trip of two guys chatting, but that afterward was pretty intense. And it means I won’t be able to put the book down, either.