rating: 3 of 5 stars
Hey, look at me! I finally read a DFW book all the way through!
No matter that this one is all of 7000 words, a commencement speech that would have made a lot more sense as an article in The New Yorker than dressed up as a $15 self-help book. There was some good stuff in here but the melodramatic format of this book sets it up as the easily scoured suicide note everything becomes after the fact. Remember when you first listened to In Utero after the news of Cobain's death?* "It's so obvious."
Which, of course, it isn't. We who schlep around in the stupor of grocery stores Wallace depicts here cannot help but mythologize our "betters" that opt out early, and the things that made them better are, to some degree, reduced to anecdotes to that mythology. It's too bad because this little speech intends the opposite: mythologizing the anecdotal; not only inflating the internal into a dirigible capable of soaring soundlessly above the mundane, but also introducing the radical idea that there are other balloons in the sky.
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* 15 years ago today, as it turns out.