Don DeLillo on what makes David Foster Wallace's voice "American":
His work, everywhere, tends to reconcile what is difficult and consequential with a level of address that’s youthful, unstudied and often funny, marked at times by the small odd sentence that wanders in off the street.
‘Her photograph tastes bitter to me.’
‘Almost Talmudically self-conscious.’
‘The tiny little keyhole of himself.’
A vitality persists, a stunned vigour in the face of the complex humanity we find in his fiction, the loss and anxiety, darkening mind, self-doubt. There are sentences that shoot rays of energy in seven directions. There are stories that trail a character’s spiralling sense of isolation.
‘Everything and More’. This is the title of his book on infinity. It might also be a description of the novel Infinite Jest, his dead serious frolic of addicted humanity. We can imagine his fiction and essays as the scroll fragments of a distant future. We already know this work as current news—writer to reader—intimately, obsessively. He did not channel his talents to narrower patterns. He wanted to be equal to the vast, babbling, spin-out sweep of contemporary culture.