Infinite Jest, to me, in 1997 or so when I read it, was a life-changing thing. It’s this huge monstrocity of a book and I don’t remember where I got it. I saw DFW on The Charlie Rose show (skip to the 23 minute mark) and he was just so undeniably himself and trying not to be false (particularly in his discussion on the effect that David Lynch’s Blue Velvet had on him) that I went out and bought IJ and immediately started reading it and fell into it.
It was one of the things that helped keep me together during a couple of tough times. A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again had me in stitches and his mathematical writing (A History of Infinity) is too smart for me, really, but totally fascinating.
It would be a mockery to say that I’ll miss him — I’m sure I’ve never been within 500 miles of him, don’t even know anyone that knew him — but his writing changed my writing, my perception of what writing could be and how you could put yourself in it. So the world is sadder and dumber without him in it.
Here’s a PDF of his fairly short piece Consider The Lobster.
Here’s his commencement speech at Kenyon.
Here’s his review of a dictionary (yes, really).
His piece “The Depressed Person”, in Harper’s.
Here’s the best fansite I’ve found: The Howling Fantods.