Heart-breaking, stomach-punching news that David Foster Wallace has died of an apparent suicide. He was 46. I always liked his fiction but was even more enamored of his non-fiction, especially his famous essays for Harper's (later reprinted in this book) recounting his adventures on a cruise ship and at the Illinois State Fair--essays that, like so much of his writing, managed to be both wickedly funny and achingly humane.
I can't find any good representative examples of DFW's work online, so, in lieu of that, I think this profile of DFW from the NYT Magazine back in 1996, when his writing career was on the verge of entering the stratosphere with the publication of Infinite Jest, does a nice job of capturing his combination of talent and vulnerability that made him such a literary hero to people my age. The world will be a less interesting, and less beautiful place, without him.
Late Update: Max Fisher, one of our interns, has found links to some of DFW's work that is online:
His 2000 Rolling Stone article on the McCain campaign.
His 2005 Atlantic article on talk radio.
The short story "Good People" that appeared in the New Yorker.
And a video of DFW reading some bits from the aforementioned essays on the cruise ship and the state fair.