See also: What happens when a washed-up former literary hero really wants people to write about him again.
We don’t read Wallace to feel smarter. We read Wallace because he was energetic and into mammoth ideas, because he cared about his characters and because he was obsessed with language. Of course he was flawed. His art was in the contradictions. On the other extreme is Bret Easton Ellis, all surface, all porcelain and ready to crack at a moment’s notice. Wallace’s work is already taught at MFA programs, Ellis will probably be completely forgotten.
I was into Ellis’s work in college because I was young and angry and needed a writer who didn’t hold back. I even used his structure for a novel I’ve since thrown away.
But Ellis hasn’t aged well. If you once liked The Rules of Attraction, try reading it now.
I bought Imperial Bedrooms just like every other chump who thought Ellis could resurrect his career by returning to the characters that gave it birth. We were wrong. Imperial Bedrooms was nothing more than an aging deadbeat squeezing into a pair of his old jeans.
David Foster Wallace: when I say “better” writer I don’t know what the fuck that means except he knew big words, syntax, grammar. Big deal.— Bret Easton Ellis (@BretEastonEllis) September 8, 2012