SOMEWHERE on a desolate strip of highway in the frozen Midwest, David Foster Wallace (Jason Segel) confesses to his Rolling Stone interviewer (Jesse Eisenberg), “I don’t have a problem with being in Rolling Stone, I just don’t want to seem like a guy who wants to be in Rolling Stone.” It’s the end of Wallace’s tour for his 1996 novel, “Infinite Jest”, a 1,079-page sensation, and Wallace is dizzyingly, even dysfunctionally, preoccupied with the effects of celebrity—on his ego, on his sense of reality and on his writing. He’s willing to participate with the machinery of publicity, but it’s a distrustful participation, conscious of the infinite ways his identity might be distorted to serve infinite commercial ends.
It’s not hard to extrapolate what Wallace’s response to a film about himself would be. Indeed, his widow, his editors, and the David Foster Wallace Literary Trust have all voiced vehement objection: “We are very interested in people reading David Wallace’s work, which we feel is the best way to learn about him and to remember him. We are not interested in selling David Wallace the person, because he would have hated that.”