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Brief Interviews with Hideous Men


Brief Interviews with Hideous Men Cover

ISBN13: 9780316925198
ISBN10: 0316925195
Condition: Standard
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novacop923, April 20, 2012 (view all comments by novacop923)
(He painted himself into a corner -- don't let him take you with him!)

The broken-up, fractured thinking on "display" here -- though, truthfully and unfortunately, it's rendered as a shared "experience" -- is of the "long form" nature, so it might not be all that easy to discern, at first glance.

BUT: If you look at the title, even, this sort of "self-survey" [written by a MAN, is it not?] is, of course: "self"-DEFEATING . . . since YOU can NEVER be one of those "hideous" men. (Or CAN you? And 'round it goes ... um, see what I mean? Like ... RIGHT AWAY?)

I only read into the first few chunks of "Eternal Joke" [his mammoth, 1100pg.+ "opus" ... wait, did I get the title right?] but, I had to put it down once the "cause" of the tennis player's weird, unrealistic, you - have - to - take - it - on - faith - because - it's - so - "profound" ailment was "revealed" [eating really bad MOLD means a person would be unable to TALK ... kind of? ... for the most part, except in a "weird" way, with squeaks & squeals, like a sea lion? (Beat.) WHAT'S that now?].

PLUS: the whole "Year of the Glad Trash Bag"/"Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment"/etc. device was too labored -- "Oh ... that's like the Chinese 'Year of the Rat,' or something?" -- since that frame of reference is just, say, ONE ITERATION AWAY from being immediate enough to Westerns (i.e., his AUDIENCE -- unless one's in some sort of "appropriate" self-flagellating mode ... I guess ...?).

Similarly here, this book (which I not only read all the way through, but, pre-read, ALSO recommended to the "Book Club" my Team at Westlaw was starting at the time; my Team Coordinator soonafter suggested to me -- after one of my fellow [married, female, 20-something] copyeditors plowed through the thing -- that maybe my "tastes" weren't shared with the rest of the staff) sucks.

"The Depressed Person" story goes 'round & 'round -- clearly in an attempt to "mimic" an actual depressed person's thought processes (duh!) -- but, it completely AVOIDS the fact that, terrible as it may sound that "depression" is a DAMPENER of experience, not REALLY an "experience" in itself.

Skip it.
[1.] Life After God by Douglas Coupland (1995)
[2.] Letting Loose the Hounds: Stories by Brady Udall (1998)
[3.] The Exes: A Novel by Pagan Kennedy (1999)
[4.] Gun, With Occasional Music: A Novel by Jonathan Lethem (1994)
[5.] Slackjaw: A memoir by Jim Knipfel (1999)
[6.] Sewer, Gas and Electric: The Public Works Trilogy (Public Works Trilogy) by Matt Ruff (1996)
[7.] Mall by Eric Bogosian (2000 -- well, close enough, right?)
[8.] Fight Club: A Novel by Chuck Palahniuk (1996)
[9.] American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis (1991)
[10.] Et Tu, Babe by Mark Leyner (1993)
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megcampbell3, October 21, 2007 (view all comments by megcampbell3)
I've read that David Foster Wallace has "Woody Allen Syndrome" (we either love him or we hate him). While I love Woody Allen, I was unimpressed with David Foster Wallace. As a matter of fact, I also had "The Girl with the Curious Hair" in my reading stack, and after forcing myself to finish "Brief Interviews…", I donated them both to the reading rack at the train depot. There were a couple of stories that made me ponder, but on the whole, Wallace’s language was more a maze of pretension than anything resembling clarity, communication, or precision. He mostly includes stories without points alongside structured narratives where the prose is so muddy it turns reading into an act of mental gymnastics. When the two combine (muddy prose without point), the book is especially frustrating. I would not recommend this book. There are already more books available than can ever be read in a lifetime.
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Product Details

Wallace, David Foster
Back Bay Books
Short Stories (single author)
Short stories
Man-woman relationships
Humorous fiction
Literature-A to Z
Edition Description:
1st Back Bay paperback ed.
Series Volume:
Publication Date:
8.22x5.54x.90 in. .66 lbs.

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Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

Brief Interviews with Hideous Men Used Trade Paper
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Product details 336 pages Back Bay Books - English 9780316925198 Reviews:
"Review" by , 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,

"Review" by , "In this book he demonstrates his strengths as a stylist, humorist and of these stories is easy, but all display an intelligence and a swagger that make them hard to put down."
"Review" by , "...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."
"Synopsis" by , 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.
"Synopsis" by , 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.
"Synopsis" by , 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.
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