Worst of all, for me, were the aftermath notes. As when they discuss when Infinite Jest is set. “I believe it’s 2009,” says Wallace. Lipsky follows with this aside: “Interesting and very sad: setting the novel the year after his death, somehow this is heartbreaking. His having no idea this is coming.”

Still, given the choice between Wallace’s words existing in the world or remaining on Lipsky’s tapes, the former is by far the better option. Despite Lipsky’s unhelpful rendering, Wallace in his speech — as much as in his written work — gives insight to a struggle that feels like our own: “to learn how to live in a way that we’re not terrified all the time.”

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