But, accustomed to academic triumph, Wallace expected his literary ascent to be meteoric. When it didn’t come — a lukewarm review from the New York Times’s Michiko Kakutani left him hiding in his room and crying for days — it quickly turned him sour. Then, in 1991, he met the poet Mary Karr at a rehab meeting, and his behaviour reached its most frightening apogee. Karr was married, and Wallace became obsessed with her. At a party, he appeared with a bandage over his left shoulder and coyly refused to reveal what it was hiding: a tattoo of Karr’s name across a heart. When he later got married to the artist Karen Green, Wallace “edited” the tattoo by putting a strikethrough and an asterisk across Karr’s name and having Green’s name tattooed as a footnote at the bottom of his arm.