‘The Depressed Person’ by David Foster Wallace

Psychic torment is to Wallace what the Tuscan sky was to Hazzard. Here the protagonist is not only in “terrible and unceasing emotional pain” but feels that “the impossibility of sharing or articulating this pain was itself a component of the pain and a contributing factor in its essential horror”. So Wallace, as he often did, invented a new prose style – affectless, paranoid, recursive – to imitate the inner workings of his character’s mind. The result is at once a story about the limits of expression and an act of expression that in its virtuosity is almost joyous.

First published in Harper’s Magazine, January 1998, and collected in Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, Little, Brown, 1999, and The David Foster Wallace Reader, Little, Brown, 2014

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