Writer: Joe Schilling, The American Conservatives title ‘The Hanging Gardens’: The Life and Work of David Foster Wallace article Writer and former editor of Newsweek magazine: David Foster.
Wallace’s life, death and legacy.
Wallace died in 2005, but the man behind The Great Gatsby remains a fixture on the literary landscape.
In this piece from the American Conservative, the author takes on the story of the novel that helped shape his thinking about writing, how Wallace got his first break, and what’s next for him.
Wallace, of course, is not the only writer to be a key figure in the shaping of The Great War.
In the early 20th century, writers like H.G. Wells, Upton Sinclair, and Upton Sinclair Jr. took a page from Wallace’s book and began to explore themes that shaped the way we understand war, politics, and race.
David Foster Wallace, born David Francis Wallace on April 16, 1932, was a self-described socialist, born to parents who, like his mother, believed in the power of free enterprise to bring about social and economic equality for all Americans.
He was educated at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, where he met and married his first wife, Helen Wallace.
He received his bachelor’s degree from the University.
The story of David Wallace is one of the great untold tales of the 20th Century.
In this excerpt from the story, author and writer Joe Schiller tells the story that is not well known to American readers, the time Wallace began writing The Great Escape, a novel about a world without borders, which would eventually form the basis of the novels The Big House and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
The author is joined by the author’s daughter, Julia Wallace, and his friend, David Foster, as they discuss the novel, the writing process, and why Wallace didn’t get his start as a novelist.
“There’s no place like home,” Wallace once said.
“There’s a place I can call my own.”
“When I wrote The Great Maze, I wrote about an alternate world where all the nations had gone mad, and a lot of people were living in caves or in the woods.
I didn’t think it was going to be that popular, but when I was working on it, I realized it was a great idea.”
I remember sitting at the piano with my father in his chair, and I was so happy, and then I said to him, “Dad, you know what?
You’re going to write the first book in a novel called The Great Adventure.”
And he was like, “Well, that’s great, but that’s not how it works.
What you’re going be writing is going to have an interesting ending.”
He started thinking about this.
What if he wrote The Maze in a way that, in this alternate world, everyone had the freedom to travel?
The Great Quest, which was set in this world, was also a novel set in the alternate world.
He came up with this idea, which I think he loved.
And I said, “I know what you’re thinking, and it’s true.
That’s the kind of thing I’m trying to write.”
He went back to his mother and said, I’ll be honest with you.
“I think it’s going to go over very well with your daughter.
I think it’ll go over well with the young people in my class.
And so, what’s the problem?
What’s the big problem?
The problem is that you don’t have to write it for them.”
So I think, Dad, you’re right, you can’t write it like this.
You can’t do it in the way you want to.
I can’t imagine myself doing it.
I’ve written the whole story in a kind of self-help way, where I’m telling the story to somebody who is not in my position.
And she says, “You know what, I’m going to give you a book called The Escape.
I’m really excited about it.”
And so I went to the bookseller and bought it.
And he said, Oh, it’s a great book.
I told him, I have this idea for a novel.
And it was called The Big Maze.
And then I read it.
Then he asked me if I’d like to go back and reread it.
He said, well, if you don´t do this for yourself, then it’s probably not going to work.
I said I’m not doing this for myself.
And that was a real relief.
And you know, the first time I read The Big Escape, it changed everything for me.
It was the first novel that changed my life, and that was not just for me; it changed my whole life.