The Afterlife of David Foster Wallace

Jennifer Howard in the Chronicle of Higher Education:

Photo_9282_landscape_large When David Foster Wallace committed suicide, on September 12, 2008, at the age of 46, he put an abrupt and shocking end to what was already one of the most distinctive writing lives in contemporary America. Fans who knew his work tended to be passionate about it. If you weren't drawn to his epic, ironic, lonely-in-the-crowd, cri-de-coeur of a novel Infinite Jest, you might have known him from “Consider the Lobster,” or “A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again,” or another of the wry, footnoted essays that turned up from time to time in magazines like Harper's.

Readers outside academe caught on to Wallace before scholars did. When he died, academic interest in him had only begun to show real signs of life, with scholars starting to look closely at the ways in which Wallace responded to and reshaped for a new generation the postmodernism practiced by writers like Don DeLillo and Thomas Pynchon. Two years later, spurred in part by his death but even more by a rising generation of young scholars, the impending publication of a posthumous novel, and the opening of a major archive of the writer's papers, David Foster Wallace studies is on its way to becoming a robust scholarly enterprise.

More here.