Rare 1993 David Foster Wallace Interview: “We’re all terribly, terribly lonely.”


The Howling Fantods posts a rare, 1993 interview with David Foster Wallace, originally published in Whiskey Island Magazine, the Cleveland State University lit mag. It’s remarkably forthright: one thing that occurs is yet another reason Wallace meant so much as a writer to a younger generation is that he candidly and fluently could clarify, again and again, both persuasive reasons for writers to write and the fears and anxieties that bedevil writers when they attempt to do so. And, as always, the loneliness that became so glaring in the aftermath of his suicide lurks here, 15 years before it would swallow him:

    There are a few books I have read that I’ve never been the same after, and I think all good writing somehow address the concern of and acts as an anodyne against loneliness. We’re all terribly, terribly lonely. And there’s a way, at least in prose fiction, that can allow you to be intimate with the world and with a mind and with characters that you just can’t be in the real world. I don’t know what you’re thinking. I don’t that know that much about you as I don’t know that much about my parents or my lover or my sister, but a piece of fiction that’s really true allows you to be intimate with … I don’t want to say people, but it allows you to be intimate with a world that resembles our own in enough emotional particulars so that the way different things must feel is carried out with into the real world. I think what I would like my stuff to do is make people less lonely.

There’s also an eerie coda:

    This is a long haul. Writing is a long haul. I’m hoping that none of the stuff that I’ve done so far is anywhere close to the best stuff I can do. Let’s hope we’re not fifty-five and doing the same thing. I’d say avoid burning out. You can burn out by struggling in privation and neglect for many years, but you can also burn out if you’re given a little bit of attention. People come to your hotel room and think you have interesting things to say. You can allow that to make you start to think that you can’t say anything unless it’s interesting.

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