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David Foster Wallace was the leading literary light of his era, a man who not only captivated readers with his prose but also mesmerized them with his mind. In this, the first biography of the writer, D. T. Max sets out to chart Wallace's tormented, anguished and often triumphant battle to succeed as a novelist as he fights off depression and addiction to emerge with his masterpiece, 'Infinite Jest'. Since his untimely death by suicide at the age of forty-six in 2008, Wallace has become more than the quintessential writer for his time - he has become a symbol of sincerity and honesty in an inauthentic age. In the end, as Max shows reader, what can be most interesting about Wallace is not just what he wrote but how he taught readers to live. Written with the cooperation of Wallace's family and friends and with access to hundreds of his unpublished letters, manuscripts, and audio tapes, this portrait of the writer is as fresh as news, as intimate as a love note, as painful as a goodbye.