The Depressed Person — David Foster Wallace (DFW)

Certain books get you hooked. Certain books hit your face with the feelings evoked by the author’s words. It is almost two years since I read 1984 by George Orwell, and 30 books in between, I haven’t found this tsunami of emotions and feelings evoked. The book is the Depressed Person. It is a short story, roughly around 8 pages long, about a depressed person as you might have guessed rightly. Here is the link to the story if you would like to read it before you read the article. Much of the article won’t make any sense if you haven’t read the story. However I will attempt to keep you in context as much as I can. A daunting task I presume.

The Depressed Person is one of the most brutally frank stories I have come across. It takes the reader to depths of human emotions, most of which we shy away from. We like to stay hard and merely float on the shallow depths of human mind. It (the story) takes those mindless distractions away, it removes the hide and lays the complex myriad of human emotions and mental processes bare for us to look. And to an uninitiated reader, that is too much to take in 8 pages. Yet, DFW lays it out for you like a disgusting corpse with his beautifully frank writing that lies in the sweet spot between verbose and briefness. While you do not want to look at it, yet you can’t help yourself looking at it more. The writing style buttresses the story line amazingly. I guess those complexity of human emotions entails such a detailed writing.

The Depressed Person lacks the unnecessary details like names of the protagonists or the supporting agents in the story. The protagonist is called the Depressed Person and her friends are only referred to as The Support System. DFW helps you keep your focus only on the mental processes of a depressed person. These processes unfold one by one through time and space. The conversations with the specialist paint a very gloomy picture of what depressed people go through with the complete helplessness. The story evoked in me a sort of grave empathy for depressed people and scare that I would never want to be in a position. It gives a feeling that depression is like a black hole. Almost a point of no return.

The post is intended to not review the book. Maybe just inspire someone or to be fully honest, just gently nudge you to pick and read this amazing short story.