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Brief Interviews with Hideous Menby David Foster Wallace
Synopses & Reviews
A collection of stories from David Foster Wallace is occasion to celebrate. These stories — which have been prominently serialized in Harper's, Esquire, the Paris Review, and elsewhere — explore intensely immediate states of mind, with the attention to voice and the extraordinary creative daring that have won Wallace his reputation as one of the most talented fiction writer of his generation.Among the stories are The Depressed Person, a dazzling portrayal of a woman's mental state; Adult World, which reveals a woman's agonized consideration of her confusing sexual relationship with her husband; and Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, a dark, hilarious series of portraits of men whose fear of women renders them grotesque.
One either loves or hates David Foster Wallace, but he's much more fun to love. Brief Interviews is a collection of 23 short stories, and the form seems to suit him better than the novel or perhaps it's that the reader can finish a piece of his work within a year. His shortest story in the collection, "A Radically Condensed History of Postindustrial Life," is a whole five sentences long (his novel Infinite Jest was a whopping 1079 pages). However, it perfectly lives up to its title:
"When they were introduced, he made a witticism, hoping to be liked. She laughed extremely hard, hoping to be liked. Then each drove home alone, staring straight ahead, with the very same twist to their faces."
The subject matter of these stories range from the bizarre to the banal, but always Foster Wallace's biting humor and eye for the smallest, and most extraordinary of details imbue the tales with a sense of the extreme. Linking the stories is a series of "interviews" with men whose confessions, and the repression revealed within, expose the truly hideousness within the stereotypical "everyman." Foster Wallace writes with an escalating tension, which is only sometimes relieved with deadpan irony. Meanwhile he subverts the story form and has fun with the structures of academia and literature. His writings have appeared in Esquire, Harper's, The New Republic, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and other magazines and is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, the Lannan Award for Fiction, The Paris Review Aga Khan Prize, the John Train Prize for Humor, and the O. Henry Award. Take a merry Postmodern whirl of a ride with one of America's brightest boys. Georgie Honisett, Powells.com
"In this book he demonstrates his strengths as a stylist, humorist and thinker....one of these stories is easy, but all display an intelligence and a swagger that make them hard to put down." Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg, The Wall Street Journal
"...a mixed bag of 23 essays and short stories that display a range of intellect and talent that is unseemly for any one writer to have, let alone show off." R.Z. Sheppard, Time
These eclectic stories explore intensely immediate states of mind with the creative daring that has won Wallace the reputation of being one of the most talented fiction writers of his generation.
David Foster Wallace made an art of taking readers into places no other writer even gets near. The series of stories from which this exuberantly acclaimed book takes its title is a sequence of imagined interviews with men on the subject of their relations with women. These portraits of men at their most self-justifying, loquacious, and benighted explore poignantly and hilariously the agonies of sexual connections.
David Foster Wallace has made an art of taking readers into places no other writer even gets near. In this exuberantly acclaimed collection he combines hilarity and an escalating disquiet in stories that astonish, entertain, and expand our ideas of the pleasures that fiction can afford.
About the Author
David Foster Wallace was born in Ithaca, New York, in 1962 and raised in Illinois, where he was a regionally ranked junior tennis player. He received bachelor of arts degrees in philosophy and English from Amherst College and wrote what would become his first novel, The Broom of the System, as his senior English thesis. He received a masters of fine arts from University of Arizona in 1987 and briefly pursued graduate work in philosophy at Harvard University. His second novel, Infinite Jest, was published in 1996. Wallace taught creative writing at Emerson College, Illinois State University, and Pomona College, and published the story collections Girl with Curious Hair, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, Oblivion, the essay collections A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, and Consider the Lobster. He was awarded the MacArthur Fellowship, a Lannan Literary Award, and a Whiting Writers' Award, and was appointed to the Usage Panel for The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. He died in 2008. His last novel, The Pale King, was published in 2011.
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