David Foster Wallace's Early Years At AmherstRolling Stone is doing a profile of David Foster Wallace for its next issue, talking with family members and friends of the author, who committed suicide last month. The first segment available online details Wallace's early internal struggles while a student at Amherst College in the early 1980's. His good friend and roommate Mark Costello, also a novelist, talks about the Infinite Jest author's practiced and strict routine, his brief stint back home in Illinois where he sought psychiatric care, and his return the next year, with a new purpose towards writing. A passage from the article about his The Broom Of The System, a work first published in Amherst's literary magazine, offers a sadly prescient dissection of the tragedy that would occur some 25 years later:
In 1984, Costello left for Yale Law School; Wallace was alone senior year. He double-majored — English and philosophy, which meant two big writing projects. In philosophy, he took on modal logic. "It looked really hard, and I was really scared about it," he said. "So I thought I'd do this kind of jaunty, hundred-page novel." He wrote it in five months, and it clocked in at 700 pages. He called it The Broom of the System. Wallace published stories in the Amherst literary magazine. One was about depression and a tricyclic anti-anxiety medication he had been on for two months. The medication "made me feel like I was stoned and in hell," he told me. The story dealt with the in-hell parts: You are the sickness yourself.... You realize all this...when you look at the black hole and it's wearing your face. That's when the Bad Thing just absolutely eats you up, or rather when you just eat yourself up. When you kill yourself. All this business about people committing suicide when they're "severely depressed;" we say, "Holy cow, we must do something to stop them from killing themselves!" That's wrong. Because all these people have, you see, by this time already killed themselves, where it really counts.... When they "commit suicide," they're just being orderly.
The Lost Years & Last Days Of David Foster Wallace [Rolling Stone]