Ever since his 2005 Commencement speech “This is Water,” author David Foster Wallace has been linked with Kenyon. That connection grows stronger when Wallace biographer D.T. Max visits the campus.
Max, who wrote the 2012 bestseller Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace, will share his thoughts in a free and public lecture called “This Was Water: A Reading and Discussion with D.T. Max” on Tuesday, Oct. 1, at 7:30 p.m. in Rosse Hall, 105 College Dr. Max is hosted by the Kenyon Review and Kenyon Student Lectureships.
"D. T. Max is a vibrant, surprising writer, often featured in The New Yorker,” said David Lynn ’76, editor of the Kenyon Review and professor of English. “Bringing him to Gambier seemed a great opportunity to collaborate with Student Lectureships. And, given the popularity that David Foster Wallace holds among students and the richness of Max's biography, I'm excited about student participation and attendance."
Max, a New Yorker staff writer, signaled his foray into the world of one of modern literature’s most intriguing minds in 2009, when he published a 10,000-word story for the New Yorker about Wallace’s life. But for all of its length and breadth, the article left Max with more questions than answers about Wallace, Max told the Awl last year. So he set out to expand on the article and continue his quest to understand Wallace, who dealt with depression and addiction before killing himself in 2008, at 46.
A recording of “This is Water” will be played at the beginning of Max’s lecture, according to Caroline Ehinger ’14 of Maplewood, N.J., who is the Student Lectureships co-president with Max Rappoport ’14 of Oakton, Va.
The Wallace outlook is applicable to the general experience of the liberal arts student, Rappoport said. Wallace criticizes “the way that we treat people on a day-to-day basis, not really regarding someone as a fellow human being with the essence of whatever we are, whatever life is, as kind of a subject/object relationship instead of a person- to-person relationship,” Rappoport said. “I think the kind of student that comes to Kenyon or a liberal arts college in general is one that’s kind of fighting back against the mainstream-college path. And I think that’s in a similar vein with David Foster Wallace, just fighting against society’s constraints.”
Max also wrote The Family That Couldn’t Sleep (2006), a book about a rare genetic disorder called fatal familial insomnia and its effect on one Italian family.
To learn more about the Max visit to Kenyon, call 740-427-5591.
By Nina Zimmerman ’14
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