David Wallace Foster—A Brilliant Communicator Gone Too Soon

Great communicators don’t come along every day. When they do—and distinguish themselves—they are often deserving of accolades and review.

Such is the case with author David Foster Wallace. I recently discovered his books and the fact that he grew up in my hometown of Champaign-Urbana, Illinois and is the same age as I am, 46. His father taught at the University of Illinois, my alma mater, while, his mom taught at Parkland College, where my mother worked.

While I didn’t know him growing up, I immediately identified with his observations, wit and eye for irony. I am far from alone. Revered as one of the great writers of his era for works such as “Infinite Jest,” “The Broom of the System,” “The Girl With the Curious Hair” and others, Wallace put forth a unique style all his own, including long, multi-clause sentences and substantive notes amid main narrative; in turn, setting himself apart and winning over a generation.

Sadly, like many artists who communicate their thoughts and ideas so brilliantly to the general populace, behind closed doors Wallace was unable to sort out his inner demons. A sufferer of depression for more than 20 years, he ended his own life just two months ago.

Some can take solace in the fact that his brilliant work lives on, including his ability to communicate with the written word like few others ever have or ever will.