Zadie Smith's Bookshelf
By David Foster Wallace
Wallace is not for everyone, but he is for me. My blind spot in my own work is "the evil that men do." I think I know a thing or two about the way people love, but I don't know anything about hatred, psychosis, cruelty. Or maybe I don't have the guts to admit that I do. Wallace writes brilliantly about hideous men and hideous women and the hideous culture that produces them. Reading Wallace for the first time was also about the hideous revelation of a talent a lot bigger than mine. You can take it when the competition is dead people—it's harder when they're alive. Wallace's prose has brought me as much envy as it has joy over the years. He makes me more ambitious for myself.