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David Foster Wallace: Sports Writer

Like many aspiring professional typists, I was curious about David Foster Wallace and admired him for his prodigious writing talent, even though I found a huge portion of his writing indecipherable. (I've read the first 22 pages of "Infinite Jest" many, many times, but never past that point. ) Friday night Wallace had enough of this life and hanged himself in a final act of desperate brain-defiance. His wife found him. Sadness. DFW was a nationally ranked junior tennis player before his writing took over and it was a sport that left an indelible mark on him for better or worse. ("Infinite Jest" features the fictional tweedy, Wes Anderson-like Enfield Tennis Academy.) Wallace wrote a gushing love letter to Roger Federer (and his brewing rivalry with Rafael Nadal) for the New York Times' "Play" magazine in 2006, that gave some much needed color to the colorless Federer athlete:

Federer’s forehand is a great liquid whip, his backhand a one-hander that he can drive flat, load with topspin, or slice — the slice with such snap that the ball turns shapes in the air and skids on the grass to maybe ankle height. His serve has world-class pace and a degree of placement and variety no one else comes close to; the service motion is lithe and uneccentric, distinctive (on TV) only in a certain eel-like all-body snap at the moment of impact. His anticipation and court sense are otherworldly, and his footwork is the best in the game — as a child, he was also a soccer prodigy. All this is true, and yet none of it really explains anything or evokes the experience of watching this man play. Of witnessing, firsthand, the beauty and genius of his game. You more have to come at the aesthetic stuff obliquely, to talk around it, or — as Aquinas did with his own ineffable subject — to try to define it in terms of what it is not.


David Foster Wallace was 46-years-old. Roger Federer As Religious Experience [NY Times]

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