People can talk about his work because his work is- important to the world of literature. If one is more interested in his family life, then one should talk about that. As far as the things that "drove" him to depression. Hm. That just flies in the face of everything I know about depression and suicide. I happen to think that depression of his kind is a clinical, genetic variety. Certain life choices may exasperate it, but it's no one's "fault". And the whole "mammy wrote a book"- that is a seriously hateful thing, with hints of racism and just- I mean- what is wrong with her writing a book? Should she not write, because of her son? So confusing and wrongminded.
He wrote about many things, not just his depression and family. I love his essays in particular and his essays on tennis for instance. To compartmentalize his entire body of work- and to read his fiction as HIM, instead of his work, related to him, but not him- is to not understand what it means to write.
I don't condone abuse- again, so wrong to get this conclusion-but unless I were to spend large amounts of time with his family and very loving seeming wife- I can't say what the relationship really was. I think Maria treads this matter lightly- she talks about how close he was to his mother, how he even quoted her, took words from her. Simplifying him- he was abused and unloved and that is why he was depressed- goes against everything, everything, I know about the human condition.
I'm a huge fan of Harris.
Regarding Geoff1- I understand your point. DFW kills himself and, understandably a University Library inherits his papers. I found his whole obsession with recovery and Alice Miller in particular, sad. The reading and rereading- the different markers! What a collossal waste of emotion. Regardless, what really matters, is his work. And it will endure. Biographies of writers- or biographical articles or what have you- I love to read them. But they often color my view of the work in a bad way and sometimes I regret my desire to know all about a writer. Two writers come to mind right off the bat- Philip Roth (I read his ex wife's book on him, In a Doll's House) and Jean Rhys.
That said, the author of this piece herself states her reservations on all his mother hating and need to "understand" himself in that "pychological" way which really is, let's face it, usually detrimental and eschews personal responsibility. And I also must say I found this piece sort of riveting. Such a bright, successful, loved man- and he sits around underlining crap about his inner child. Just- wow.