Various Small Flames

15 September 2008

The Broom of the System terminates abruptly, mid-sentence in fact, on page 467.  Through a trick of language, that final sentence fragment prompts the reader to supply the missing word herself, to fit the final piece to the puzzle.  That implied word, the word that is written without being written at all, would seem to be the word, “word.”

On Friday, September 12th the author of that novel terminated his own life abruptly.  This time there is no wink or riddle or arch word game and the reader feels only distraught, confused, powerless.  The unwritten words that might have been can’t be decoded or divined.  They are just gone, forever.

Gifted writers are doomed to elegize themselves.  Here’s the final line from page 981 of Infinite Jest:

And when he came back to, he was flat on his back on the beach in the freezing sand, and it was raining out of a low sky, and the tide was way out.

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