Graeme Wood


The Fatal Cure

David Foster Wallace, a postmodern writer and Atlantic contributor, hanged himself Friday.


Kurt Vonnegut, a novelist who practically begged to be put on suicide watch, thought that writing novels was a treatment for depression, if not an outright cure. Blues music, he suggested, was analogous: a way of palliating an intolerable condition by transmuting it into art. A clinical study at the University of Iowa supported the theory that depression runs in the families of writers, and a wide array of anecdotal evidence (I would cite the film Crumb) suggests that practicing an art can, if the artist is lucky, save him from the fate of his relatives. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Atlantic Monthly, ,

Thomas Disch, RIP

Endzone, Disch’s blog, was one of the Web’s cheeriest and one of its darkest. It derived its cheer from a reckless, desperate wit, often expressed by ridiculing, lampooning, or harassing enemies and professional associates who had crossed him. The ancient blogger wisdom about counting to a thousand before posting a personal attack seemed not to have reached him, and the effect was amusing and bracing. When an editor at FSG rejected an introduction he had written to the poems of Allen Tate, Disch responded with a short verse-cycle, childish and pissy, denouncing the editor, quite unfairly, by name. (Disch could write well about other people’s poetry, but he was an eccentric choice for a Tate introduction.) Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Atlantic Monthly, ,

Two Eras End

If the phrase “Soviet commissar” has a vaguely old-fashioned ring — like “icebox,” “suffragette,” or “antimacassar” — then “Ottoman foot-soldier” has a near-ancient one. The two deaths this week consign both categories to history, and give an occasion for reflection on the passing of two eras. Read the rest of this entry »

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A Wide-Eyed Foray into Iraq

The New York Sun

Review of In the Red Zone by Steven Vincent.

Iraq began descending into blood spattered madness just days after the fall of Baghdad, but it took about a year before the country went into its grisly tailspin and landed in the utter bedlam that now rules the day. For that year journalists could do their jobs in relative safety. Even humble freelancers could wander the country, scraping by without paid security and freely chatting up locals about the wretchedness of life in Iraq.

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Filed under: New York Sun, , ,