And quite by chance I come across this gem of a tiny movie on Netflix, titled ‘The End of the Tour’, wherein two young men in their thirties – David Foster Wallace, much acclaimed writer and David Lipsky of the Rolling Stone – engage in some brilliant, revelatory conversations as to what it means to be a writer, to be famous, and above all, to be human.
The context is sans any frills – Lipsky is after a story that he sees in the life of the writer whom the Los Angeles Times described as “one of the most influential and innovative writers of the last 20 years.” Wallace almost unsurely agrees for the interview, and lets Lipsky accompany him on a book tour to Minneapolis, where they get to interact in the course of five days, after which Lipsky returns.
Twelve years later, Lipsky hears of Wallace’s suicide that sends him spinning back to those amazing days that he had spent with the writer. We get to see him in the final scenes, reading out from his own book, ‘Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace’ – “David thought books existed to stop you from feeling lonely. If I could, I’d say to David that living those days with him reminded me of what life is like — instead of being a relief from it… and I’d tell him it made me feel much less alone.”
And there isn’t probably another film that I have seen where the writer’s predicament has been so deftly expressed, and when you get to see Wallace mouthing these lines – “Well, I can’t put it as well as you did about the “mental landscapes,” I just know I’m hard to be around. Because when I want to be by myself, like to work, I really want to be by myself. I think if you dedicate yourself to anything, one facet of that is that it makes you very very self-conscious. You end up using people. Wanting them around when you want them around, but then sending them away,” – you are flabbergasted.
I sense that I would love to watch this movie once again, when time permits. And I also make an immediate mental note to read ‘Infinite Jest’, Wallace’s masterpiece, and push it way up my reading list.