An effluvious bouquet

I have to admit, I’ve never heard of an entire movie devoted to fart-sniffing before. I can’t confess to harboring any interest in it myself, but I’m sure there are some fetish freaks that should find this “biopic” to be fascinating, if not outright porn:

 The actor Jason Segel will play David Foster Wallace in a forthcoming biopic of the author entitled The End of the Tour. Foster Wallace, who committed suicide in 2008, was one of the most talented writers of his generation. The film will be based on an article in Rolling Stone in which journalist David Lipsky (to be played by Jesse Eisenberg) followed Foster Wallace on his book tour round America promoting Infinite Jest, his 1,100-page novel from 1996.

Lipsky’s account was turned into a book in 2010 entitled Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: a Road Trip With David Foster Wallace. The film is scripted by Pulitzer-winning playwright Donald Margulies, and the director is James Ponsoldt.

Actually, David Foster Wallace wasn’t one of the most talented writers of my generation. He was one of the most promising writers of it. He was one of the most ballyhooed writers of it. He was one of the most talked-about writers of it. But he never actually realized any of that promise, and never managed to produce anything more than an inferior John Irving novel writ larger and less coherent.

I am absolutely convinced that the fart-sniffers of New York literary society bear more than a little responsibility for Wallace’s suicide. If they hadn’t put him on such a pedestal so early and undeservedly, he might not have felt like such a failure. Because he was a failure, a complete failure, despite writing a big novel that didn’t completely suck. But it also wasn’t the masterpiece it was expected to be, it wasn’t the masterpiece that some still pretend it to be, and Wallace knew that better than anyone.