A magazine writer tagging along with a fiction writer who’s on a book tour for a 1,000 page novel doesn’t exactly sound like a formula for a gripping feature film, but The End of the Tour, based on David Lipsky’s book about the late David Foster Wallace’s book tour for Infinite Jest, is surprisingly engaging. The critically acclaimed writer comes across as awkward, brilliant, tortured, and sympathetic, and his suicide perhaps more comprehensible. Wallace was a controversial writer, and in the wake of his untimely death, has become a popular subject among academics, and he would likely be both jazzed and disturbed by the scrutiny his life and his work is receiving.
The film shows Wallace eating junk food, watching television, but mostly talking. Though we don’t see him reading, (granted, images of people reading do not generally make for exciting cinema), he was a serious reader, like any serious writer must be. For an interesting glimpse into Wallace’s reading and it’s relationship with his writing, check out Reading Wallace Reading.
“If you spend enough time reading or writing, you find a voice, but you also find certain tastes. You find certain writers who when they write, it makes your own brain voice like a tuning fork, and you just resonate with them. And when that happens, reading those writers…becomes a source of unbelievable joy.” —David Foster Wallace