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Brief Interviews with Hideous Men

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In his startling and singular new short story collection, David Foster Wallace nudges at the boundaries of fiction with inimitable wit and seductive intelligence. Venturing inside minds and landscapes that are at once recognisable and utterly strange, these stories reaffirm Wallace's reputation as one of his generation's pre-eminent talents, expanding our ides and pleasures fiction can afford.

Among the stories are 'The Depressed Person', a dazzling and blackly humorous portrayal of a woman's mental state; 'Adult World', which reveals a woman's agonised 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. Wallace's stories present a world where the bizarre and the banal are interwoven and where hideous men appear in many different guises. Thought-provoking and playful, this collection confirms David Foster Wallace as one of the most imaginative young writers around. Wallace delights in leftfield observation, mining the ironic, the surprising and the illuminating from every situation. This collection will delight his growing number of fans, and provide a perfect introduction for new readers.

273 pages, Paperback

First published May 28, 1999

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About the author

David Foster Wallace

127 books11.3k followers
David Foster Wallace worked surprising turns on nearly everything: novels, journalism, vacation. His life was an information hunt, collecting hows and whys. "I received 500,000 discrete bits of information today," he once said, "of which maybe 25 are important. My job is to make some sense of it." He wanted to write "stuff about what it feels like to live. Instead of being a relief from what it feels like to live." Readers curled up in the nooks and clearings of his style: his comedy, his brilliance, his humaneness.

His life was a map that ends at the wrong destination. Wallace was an A student through high school, he played football, he played tennis, he wrote a philosophy thesis and a novel before he graduated from Amherst, he went to writing school, published the novel, made a city of squalling, bruising, kneecapping editors and writers fall moony-eyed in love with him. He published a thousand-page novel, received the only award you get in the nation for being a genius, wrote essays providing the best feel anywhere of what it means to be alive in the contemporary world, accepted a special chair at California's Pomona College to teach writing, married, published another book and, last month [Sept. 2008], hanged himself at age 46.

-excerpt from The Lost Years & Last Days of David Foster Wallace by David Lipsky in Rolling Stone Magazine October 30, 2008.

Among Wallace's honors were a Whiting Writers Award (1987), a Lannan Literary Award (1996), a Paris Review Aga Khan Prize for Fiction (1997), a National Magazine Award (2001), three O. Henry Awards (1988, 1999, 2002), and a MacArthur Foundation "Genius" Grant.


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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,383 reviews
Profile Image for Paul Bryant.
2,217 reviews9,910 followers
October 28, 2010

Given that most of my goodread friends love DFW with immoderate, alarming gusto, this requires some kind of explanation.

There’s a direct parallel between DFW and James Joyce. They both tended perpetually towards the encyclopaedic. They were utterly indifferent to audience expectation - even to the modernist, avantgardish audience they themselves created. Their main books are vast, oceanic, limitless affairs. They appeared to wish to use eventually every single word ever admitted into the English language and a shedload of foreign ones too. You might say they were both insufferable know-it-alls. They had a delightful propensity for going off on rants or lists or ranting lists in their books - these are from the present book :

we called them Granola Crunchers or simply Crunchers, terms
comprising the prototypical sandals, unrefined fibers, daffy arcana, emotional incontinence, flamboyantly long hair, extreme liberality on social issues, financial support from parents they revile, bare feet, obscure import religions, indifferent hygiene, a gooey and somewhat canned vocabulary, the whole predictable peace and love post-Hippie diction


Lying there helpless and connected, she says her senses had taken on the nearly unbearable acuity we associate with drugs or extreme meditative states. She could distinguish lilac and shattercane’s scents from phlox and lambs’-quarter, the watery mind of first-growth clover. Wearing a corbeau leotard beneath a kind of loose-waisted cotton dirndl and on one wrist a great many bracelets of pinchbeck copper.

But there’s a difference between the ocean of Joyce and the ocean of DFW, or what I have observed of it. Joyce had a plan and he stuck to it. DFW, it seems, never sticks to the point in his writing (forever interrupting himself, subverting his own text with page long footnotes, or end notes, forever entangling us readers in his sperm-whale-sized syntactic constructions, forever digressing) because he wasn’t that sure there actually was a point. He thought there should be but he wasn’t sure he’d discovered it. He was an out of control noticing machine (that’s not my phrase). All of his writing is suffused with unbearable acuity we associate with drugs or extreme meditative states. It's like breathing poisoned air. He writes about “addiction” and “tennis” and “parental abuse” and whatnot, all daytime tv subjects. He was mighty literary power-drill cracking a nut. Not much left of the nut when he’s done. Not much of a nut to begin with.

I’m not saying the reason I love Joyce & unlove DFW is that Joyce was a general ordering a successful campaign and DFW was a lonely guerilla hacking through the jungle with a dead radio. One's heart lies with the guerilla, after all. But there’s also the matter of JJ’s gorgeous way with words and effortless humour. Even his fans may concede that DFW’s logorrhific outpouring is often ugly, deliberately ugly. And also that reading JJ & DFW is like attending a service at the Church of Giant Brains - there's a great choir, fab stained glass windows, but it's so chilly, and it makes you feel like an ant, a bad ant who does bad things.

DFW’s narrators are most of the time like a rat in a trap, ceaselessly whirling around in a confined space, hysterically looking for the way out, but there’s no way out of their own awful sensibilities into the world, and I can’t help but think that as his characters, so it was with DFW himself, never getting to the end of his own endless sentences until the day he just wrote a full stop and had done with it.

DFW's own motto might be from p247 of this book :

I’m aware of how all this sounds and can well imagine the judgements you’re forming


Note - two stars just for my own discomforting reading experience. I think it's a four star piece of writing. But I don't like it.
Profile Image for sarah.
11 reviews107 followers
April 6, 2007
Usually when some undergraduate English major brings up DFW to me at a keg party I tend auto-file them under "douchebag." Because, let's be honest people - Infinite Jest was profoundly not good. But everything that's irritating about Wallace's thoroughly self-aware postmodern writing style is somehow much more stomachable in smaller bites. Brief Interviews has its highs and lows - the quality is extremely variant between the pieces - but when it's on, it is ON. In fact, Brief Interviews holds moments where Wallace is actually transcendant.

If you're looking to buy or borrow this book, take my advice : do not read the whole thing. First, read the interviews. They're the clear highlights, with the last one being, in my opinion, one of the best pieces of short fiction written in the last couple of decades. If you're feeling it at that point, then dive in to the other ones - Octet is a particularly strong, as is Suicide as a Sort of Present. A good percentage of the stories use painfully self aware "tricks" to "challenge" the modern concepts of narration, character, structure, etc -- "tricks" that are now being replicated unendingly in sophomore fiction writing seminars across the world, I'm sure. It's not particularly clever and for the most part detracts from the writing. But in the Interviews, Wallace manages the dialectic narration style more or less beautifully, somehow capturing both the worst and best traits of his characters. These men are hideous; even worse, they are hideously realistic, and I often found my pity or empathy overwelming my initial stomach-churning disgust. These portraits are intimate and familiar; it's like listening in on a conversation of an ex-boyfriend.

The last interview is off-the-charts good, mostly because it manages to be both grotesque and quite funny. This is the DFW that people obsess over - tossing around references, satirizing modern society, soaking dialogue in irony. That story alone is worth the price of the book.

If you end up loving this book - more power to you. DFW has definitely done things to earn his widespread critical acclaim. Just don't name-drop him to pick up girls at parties, because that makes you an asshole.
Profile Image for Samadrita.
295 reviews4,677 followers
September 11, 2014
To call these meanderings and sub-meanderings of a brilliant mind short stories, will be akin to putting a leash on DFW's creativity with the aid of conventional terminologies and thereby undervaluing the sheer inventiveness on display in this compelling collection.
In course of my limited venturings into DFW's literary landscapes I have arrived at one crucial inference. That to read DFW is to transgress the very act of simply reading through and discover a newer way to commune with his chain of thoughts, to work your grey matter just a tad bit harder to truly grasp what he has intended for you to understand. And that's an exercise I am all too happy to engage in especially if it sharpens my senses and compels me to achieve a state of oneness with the narrative without sparing a second thought to any of my other parallel reads.
Reading him is like being given the unique opportunity to listen in on one of the greatest minds that ever existed speaking from some imaginary podium and letting that same mind direct my own to follow pathways that it didn't even know existed. It's like making yourself a part of the virtual reality he has recreated through his words and believing in the truth of it without trying to compartmentalize his writing.

Hideous men (and, occasionally, women) and the alarmingly convoluted inner workings of their still hideous minds string this collection together. Some of the 'short stories' are mere snapshots of eponymous interviews of seemingly disturbed individuals, ranging from hippie youths who have devised Machiavellian plans to seduce and subsequently ditch women with psychopathic precision to adolescents with elaborate masturbation fantasies creepy enough to make you involuntarily shudder, while some are little snippets which merely detail the secret inner lives of certain individuals which always remain carefully concealed behind an ingeniously orchestrated charade. Add some metafictional commentary inserted sporadically as footnotes of considerable length, in several of which the author even challenges the potential reader to weird pop quizzes, and you have a hazy idea of what this collection has to offer. But even so, I probably haven't even grazed the tip of the iceberg of DFW's gift for redefining narrative structures.

Given that I am accustomed to more or less linear narratives, consisting of immaculately crafted sentences which put more emphasis on superficiality of actions and emotions, it is a bit of a surprise to find myself being drawn to a writer who sought to expose the raw core of every pretension. Sometimes while reading I was even tempted to flip a coin to decide whether he was being ironic or simply acknowledging some disturbing reality in a matter-of-fact tone.
"He ruled from that crib, ruled from the first. Ruled her, reduced and remade her. Even as an infant the power he wielded! I learned the bottomless greed of him. Of my son. Of arrogance past imagining. The regal greed and thoughtless disorder and mindless cruelty - the literal thoughtlessness of him."

The man's perspicacity is so palpable in everything he writes and his sincere attempts at perfect reconstruction of thought processes and the true motivations at work behind every human gesture so obvious, that I can't help but be charmed. The 5 stars are probably a dead giveaway of my veritable moony-eyedness.

Belying expectations the footnotes did not annoy. The infinite digressions merely served to intensify my fascination with the way DFW's mind worked.
But can it be said that DFW left behind a body of work which can be given the label of 'proper literature'? The answer to the question depends on the way you choose to constrict your definition of 'proper literature' or whether you choose to constrict it at all.

The man was a genius and his suicide only translates into a profound loss for all the good which remains in the world of publishing. And I doff my hat in honor of the creative freedom he refused to sacrifice while writing.
Profile Image for Hannah Garden.
994 reviews169 followers
September 3, 2009
It's official: my heart is broken for David Foster Wallace. Anyone who thinks they don't like him is, I'm sorry, an ass. This shit is just not up for debate.
Profile Image for Infinite Jen.
87 reviews429 followers
September 26, 2023
I’m conflicted about the author’s stylistic buffoonery. Vituperative is what it is. I’m a bit punch-drunk, if I’m being honest. I have suffered a sustained bludgeoning to my self esteem. Frankly, it’s as if I were accosted in the supermarket by a terrifying maniac and drilled, almost fatally, by a frozen chunk of venison. Right here, you see? I’m pointing at the occipital dimension of my head calcium. Utterly blindsided by this block of wild game to the dome which caused an explosion of white, followed by a kind of pointillist mosaic of unresolvable questions and concerned figures. Anyway, I found myself, while weathering the author’s obvious distain for my attention, wondering if anything of value was being revealed, or if DFW was at fool-mast, for making me feel like an imbecile. A part of me balks at enduring abuse from some puffed up organism that would be terminated by attempting to inhale an irregular tater tot. Just like you or me. Have you ever nearly choked to death on, lets say, a chicken nugget, or a lego, and had a searing flash of cosmic insignificance? Well, let me tell you, unless you have a terminally fixed perspective, this simple act of nearly asphyxiating on the severed head of a Malibu Barbie will cause you to reappraise everything.

Rapport? Do you call instances of domestic abuse instrumental to building a harmonious relationship? What you’re asking me to do here, is, what you’re asking me to - let me get this straight, you’re saying; put on my best bib a tucker and let DFW make aero plane noises while he feeds me Stockholme-O’s? Is the crippling extraneous details a necessary component of the delivery system? Can a book not be both difficult and engaging? Why prohibitively difficult? What if the difficulty is just a method of obscurantism for what is, at base, a vacuous piece of masturbatory drivel that only receives accolades in a manner similar to Black Metal bands who try to out-kvlt each other, where devolving one’s sound to the level of hateful inaccessibility is the primary animus, because who would want to be associated with the hoi polloi and their horrible tendency to catapult kitsch to commercial success? Someone told me once that the point of it was to be inedible. Maximalism they call it. It’s enough to make a cat laugh. You remember what Orwell said about certain ideas being so stupid that only an intellectual could believe them? Well, that applies to this entire genre. It’s a kind of fiction that only a bunch of hyper educated pillocks would endorse. It’s as if we had sat down at a restaurant recommended to us by these stinky gourmands, and we’re consuming and not really taking time to taste anything, but then, like, I had inquired, with dawning consternation; “Are we... (leaning forward and cutting through the avant-garde jazz fusion) ... Are we eating shit, mate?” I don’t feel edified. I don’t feel nourished. I don’t feel entertained. I feel as though half masticated feces is rolling around in my open trap. As a matter of fact, I’ve heard the author address this very thing in interviews. This naked hostility expressed by pretentious little shits who have realized, deep down, that they have no way to make durable transformations to the reality they inhabit, because they’re inept and frightened by how stupid they are, and so but, these are resentful acts. I’m telling you, they’re looking for revenge for having no actionable skills. They carve out a niche where they can feel superior. They produce these holograms of knowledge that are predicated on axioms of their own devising, which, if you really wanna know what I think, it’s all about getting laid. Pomo is just a big noodle wetting machine.

Kvlt? Well. Let me give you an example. If I, while on stage, wrapped myself in razor wire and crawled up the ass of a dead bison, that’s pretty Kvlt, right? But if I obtained widespread notoriety for these bizarre rites and gained, lets say, a thousand fans, I will have diminished my Kvlt status in direct proportion to the amount of groupies amassed? Understood? It’s not important. Anyway.

That’s right. Appearing tortured and mysterious and on this other level. But they don’t want to have collisions with comprehensibility, because if they said anything plainly they’d receive our collective ridicule. They don’t want to pass through the dreadful sieve of empirical reality where they’ll inevitably find themselves trapped in the company of other coarse individuals who found the act of communicating too difficult and so opted to masquerade as semiotic Mavericks, who place the onus on you to consume excrement, to disregard all the common conventions of sense making and just wallop your fat gob with manure, and smile and exclaim with gustatory avidity; “Simply divine!” Entire metaphysical substrates are constructed and populated by a gullible clergy who are similarly disenfranchised by their lack of creative engagement with the world, these people, the faithful, supply the whole enterprise with tremendous motive force by imputing genius to the scribblings of these painfully insecure, petty tyrants. Goddamn sadists. They have their own lingo, their own methods of analysis which reveals in the text whatever they wish. Do you know what I heard once as a defense for these fucking footnotes? That they were there to take you out of the work, so you could observe it in a more clinical fashion.

Say that to me again! I’ll bash ye fookin’ ‘ead in, I swear on me mum!


I enjoyed pretty much all of the stories, and some of them were transcendental. The bit of clumsy meta-fiction’ing during Octet is a good example of the earnestness which always attracted me to his work. That a person could possess such tremendous self awareness yet be brave enough to render themselves fully human before their readers, it’s just very moving. The bit about the hand waving and stopping time in order to fornicate with a clerical aide, but, like, extrapolating the consequences of that power to such a degree that you’ve cognitively cock blocked yourself, genius. And I think that despite some of the difficulty, there’s nearly always something important being said or inferred, or else an interaction is being captured at such a level of granularity that you’re able to reconfigure your own sensitivity. Then the thing is, like, you begin to internalize this lesson, you come to realize that, much of the time, when you’re going about your daily life, you are, for all practical purposes, insensate. Just totally numb to this panoply of complex interactions. But you don’t have to be. That’s one of things that great works of fiction offer. A remonstrance to wake the fuck up. Like what Bradbury said about putting a book under a microscope and seeing life streaming past in infinite profusion? Well, Wallace is the microscope. I think that’s one of the aims of Maximalism, to show the kind of Brownian motion that underlies the seemingly mundane.

That’s hard to say, I’m pretty much in love with the guy. I think it’s probably his sensitivity to detail, and his unparalleled ability to capture the ephemeral nature of thinking directly, rather than being once removed from it by the explicative mode. I also find him to be one of the funniest writers I’ve ever read. He seizes these moments of absurdity by the scruff while they’re in the act of pissing up the furniture. Take for example the idea that a marriage could be improved by mutually hidden agendas, that discovering her husband is chronically tweaking his heat-seeking moisture missile could assuage a woman’s insecurities and precipitate a kind of sexual liberation in her. The idea of a kind of transparency only being possible for these neurotic souls through willful blindness. He’s amazing at exposing these preposterous motives which typify our existence. He is also very good with dialogue, at making it seem like a believable exchange. It’s messy and digressive and, like, riddled with these little idiosyncrasies.

Personally, I think it’s important for art to always seek new modes of expression. Stagnation is the alternative. Culture is always in flux, and so writers must also be dynamic if they wish to capture something important about the spirit of the time. There’s no shortage of traditional narratives for those people who are completely satisfied with them. But it can only be a net benefit for experimental forms of fiction to emerge and thrive. And if they’re difficult to digest, so what? Most of what we find fulfilling in life is not easily obtained or understood. It seems to me that much of what we value, we value because of the effort involved. Freshly squeezed orange juice is better than swilling from the carton. It’s an incontrovertible fact that nuts you have to crack yourself yield more tasty innards. And feeling a person’s flesh yield to a perfect rapier thrust, after an intense back and forth of parries and feints, is inherently more satisfying than, say, blindsiding them in the supermarket with a frigid truncheon of elk meat while they puzzle over their shopping list and just, like, discombobulating them mid-thought and causing them to pitch violently into the cabbages and be spritzed by the automated produce moisturizers in a state of mystified pain and confusion while you leer above them and mutter cryptically; “I told you.”

Kvlt? Okay, lets say that one musician is willing to fist a dead hog on stage, but another is willing to do so while aggressively rubbing his Bobby Dangler all over a Jumping Cholla Cactus, the later is said to have out performed his contemporaries in the Kvlt olympics. But lets say that, due to this obscene perforation of his twig and berries, he had garnered attention sufficient enough to move the needle of commercial success, it is then incumbent upon him to recede into deeper obscurity or else risk losing the kvlt resources which were gained through genital mutilation. Understood? It’s not important. Anyway.
Profile Image for Tom Quinn.
552 reviews167 followers
December 22, 2020
David Foster Wallace is an excellent lister. He isn't always the greatest storyteller, but he is a truly excellent lister. Things. Sensations. Details. Tics. He notices and lists them all. He is like Emerson's invisible eyeball, turning outward to reveal more about what is inside, listing a thousand tiny details in endless parade where each attains paradoxically heightened importance by becoming equally unimportant. It's not that he is a poor storyteller, but this collection gave me the sense that maybe some stories don't need to be told. That maybe just because something happens doesn't always mean it's significant.

I hope I don't seem dismissive. There are some really, really good stories in here, actually. But do they matter? Big picture? Do they paint a picture, reveal truth, resonate thematically? Or are they just lists of things that happen sometimes?

2.5 stars out of 5. Excellent form, but not so much function. Ignore the interviews and read the standalone stories - those are great.
Profile Image for Emily B.
442 reviews440 followers
October 23, 2021
This is a hard book for me to rate and review.

I could listen to David Foster Wallace talk all day but his writing is just hard. It requires work, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Although short and relatively simple I adored the first short story ‘A radically condensed history of postindustrial life’ and struggled with the more complex titles such as ‘Tri-stan: I Sold Sisee Nar To Ecko’
Profile Image for Stephen M.
137 reviews622 followers
January 3, 2013
A Brief Word on the Famous Interview #20

I'm here to air my total ambivalence after having read the final interview (second to last story in the collection) and not knowing what at all to make of the story. Yes, it is very well written and DFW had certainly mastered the interview style by this point in the book. The way that the Hideous Men speak in each of the interviews is quite natural and sounds true from the stories that I've heard many guys tell w/r/t women, sexual encounters etc. And it is also the point of these stories (given that they're Hideous Men) to give voice to misogynistic men and men who struggle severely with relationships with other women, but the last story just did not go down well with me, given what the story seems to imply. Without spoiling the story, there's a woman character that the interviewee tells the story about in which she tells the man a story. But the way she deals with what happens to her seems to make okay a very serious and problematic occurrence in society. Now, I know; I imagine that DFW had much different intentions when he wrote the story, but the implication it makes seems inevitable to me and kind of problematic to be honest. All that aside, the story hit me in this very visceral way; it is fucking powerful. I've always been of the opinion that moral outrage in a story is a good thing, as it incites dialogue among its readers. So I guess I'm trying to say (very long-windedly) that I'm giving the story the highest compliment I could give it. It treads some dangerous ground while wresting a great deal of emotionality from the situation and develops three different complex characters through a single man's monologue. That's some writing skill, that is.

It was a good thing that the story left such an impression because there are some stinkers towards the end of the book. I am the first to admit that DFW is not perfect and there are a couple obvious examples of that throughout this collection. But overall, I'm so happy to have sifted through more of the DFW ouvre. It's worth it, if you ever do get the chance.

A Brief Conversation with a Friendly Barista

‘Next. . . Next!’
‘Yeah, sorry. Can you just do a water with ice.’
‘Sure man, no probs. So, nothing else then?’
‘Well, yeah. I think that, um. . . C—— are you getting anything?’
‘. . .’
‘So yeah, then just one of those teas. . . No, yeah, the purple one.’
‘Yeah, great then.’
‘Okay. . . two-fifteen then.’
‘Great. Lemme get my. . . um. . .’
‘No rush my friend.’
‘Yeah thanks.’
‘Hey, whatchya reading there?’
‘Oh. . . It’s this guy David Foster Wallace. He’s a—’
‘Oh yeah, I’ve heard of him. I’ve heard his college thing I think.’
‘Yeah yeah. The Kenyon Commencement Speech.’
‘Well, yeah anyway, this here is a collection of short stories.’
‘Whatdya call it?’
‘Ha, um. . . It’s called Brief Interviews with Hideous Men.’
‘Right on. Killer title.’
‘Yeah definitely. It’s a good one.’
‘Well, here’s your tea man.’
‘Oh great. It’s for her, but cool man thanks.’
‘Hey, hold up.’
‘. . .’
‘So like what goes on in it?’
‘The book?’
‘Sure. What else?’
‘Okay yeah. Um. . . well it’s like a series of short stories and everything, but also there are these interview-things throughout it and they’re supposed to be all from the perspective of guys and they all have some problem in relationships and everything. Some’ve ‘em are pretty misogynistic too. But yeah, it’s got a couple of my favorite stories in it.’
‘Right on man. Lemme take a look.’
‘Oh, yeah of course. Here.’
‘Right on. Great cover.’
‘Yeah, I like how the face is covered up by the bag. It’s kind of like how, well, I should say that in the interviews, all the names are gone and the dialogue is written so that there’s no person tags, or whatever to them. But so anyway, you don’t get any of the people’s names or the questions in the interview either. It’s just the words.’
‘Right on man.’
‘Yeah, it’s pretty great. I mean I can see how it could be a very just guy-type of book given that all the perspectives are all men and they’re all like, you know, pretty masculine and occasionally degrading to women and I could get how that might not make for the most sympathetic characters, if you know what I mean and not to generalize too much about women or anything.’
‘Sure man, but I’m not sure if you have to sympathize with the character to appreciate a good book.’
‘Ah! Definitely. You got me on that one.’
‘For sure dude. Lolita and everything.’
‘Ah, great book. One of my first loves.’
‘No pun intended, eh?’
‘Ha. Sure man, if you say so.’
‘No, yeah, speaking of, here’s a Nabokov comparison on the back. Check it.’
‘Right you are, there. It’s great. I mean backcover blurbs are always pretty over the top and ridiculous. But sometimes they’re cool. I mean, I’m not sure Nabokov is who DFW resembles most, but I guess I see what the person is saying.’
‘Sure man, I feel you. But it’s like their only way to get the word out. I mean a lot of them depend on that kind of stuff.’
‘Oh. . . the authors? Oh sure. No, I mean, and especially for unknown writers, it’s way important, definitely. But I think that’s a bit different than still calling out the bullshit of what it is. I don’t know.’
‘Yeah. . . Hey, so what are the good stories?’
‘Oh man, I mean there’s this one called the depressed person in it. Goddamn.’
‘Oh yeah?’
‘Yeah, I mean, maybe it’s a bit of a downer, but if you’re the type of person who has ever been through any kind of depression or anything, I mean, every line will just make you clutch your heart.’
‘Oh yeah? Ha. I suppose by you saying that, it is an admission of having been through depression then?’
‘Oh, yeah. I guess it is. I mean, it’s still a good story on its own merits.’
‘For sure man. No, no offense or nothing. I’ve been through it all too. So no worries.’
‘Huh. . . looks like there’s some good-sized footnotes in here.’
‘Oh, ‘course!’
‘Definitely. That’s the DFW trademark. I mean, I don’t think there could be anyone who could ever use footnotes in fiction again without being pinned directly to Mr. Wallace.’
‘Is that right?’
‘It’s his trademark.’
‘For sure. Well that’s cool.’
‘Certs. And somewhat frustrating too.’
‘Whatdya mean?’

‘Well. Few reasons. First, as a reader. I mean, there’s a couple of those damn things that just drag on and on and they pull you out in mid-sentence and it’s kind of irritating especially for someone like me who reads real slow and has a hard time with following the complex stuff. So it’ll take you that much more time to just understand what all is happening. Don’t get me wrong, it’s worth it because he has so much to say that’s brilliant but still. . .’
‘No yeah bro. I got you.’
‘. . .’
‘You said a few reasons?’
‘Oh yeah. And the other is as a writer.’
‘How’s that?’
‘Oh well. Next time you sit down to write. Well, I’m not sure if you do write. If you don’t, you definitely should. It’s great.’
‘Ha, if you insist bro.’
‘No? Okay, anyway. You think to yourself, hey I’ll just try out a footnote to see what it’s like and them bam, you want to use it every time you sit down to write. It captures, like that part of your mind that sidetracks or argues against itself and gets away from the original point.’
‘How’s that?’
‘Well, it’s so easy when you write, to let your mind wander or just lock into a groove of a style and just go with it, but there has to be an outlet for the alternate voice in your head vying for attention.’
‘Huh, okay man. I mean I don’t write so I guess I’ll just take your word there.’
‘No sure, I get it. It kind of sounds like a bunch of abstract nonsense but trust me man. If you ever dive into it, you’ll see what I mean.’
‘And how does the life as a writer treat you?’
‘Oh goodness. I mean, I wouldn’t dare fashion myself with the label of a writer. I mean, I do try to write, but it’s not like I’m an actual writer in any real capacity.’
‘For sure dude, you’ve got it. Be writing. Don’t be a writer.’
‘Hey! William Faulkner!’
‘You got it.’
‘Right on dude.Well you know your shit.’
‘Not really. My girlfriend is way into this shit. So I get an earful whenever we’re out or whatever.’
‘Ah, damn. What a great girlfriend.’
‘Yeah, man. She’s alright.’
‘Well then, maybe she can sympathize with the footnote addiction. Because like I said, you start and then it’s so difficult to stop and all the while I feel guilty because I’m ripping from someone else.’
‘All great artists steal.’
‘Right again. But I mean, you’ve got to conceal who you steal from and you have to steal from a wide variety of people. I mean if an entire work of writing is copping just one author, people’ll notice.’
‘. . .’
‘Seriously man. Writing is a huge anxiety-ridden mess.’
‘Why do it then?’
‘Well, my life is a huge anxiety-ridden mess, so might as well try to become famous with it and regarded as brilliant or whatever.’
‘Ha! Good one bro. Good one.’
‘Yeah man. Well, shit looks like my date is pissed that I’m spending the whole time chatting up literature. I better go.’
‘Ah, don’t worry about it bro. It makes you look cool, like you are good in conversation and she’s just lucky to have such a socially-stable person deigning to date her.’
‘Ah, probably not bro. But it doesn’t hurt to think that, right?’
‘Ha. Right you are my friend. Hey I’m S—— by the way.’
‘Good to meet you S——. I’m J——.’
‘J——. Good talk.’
‘You too bro. I’ve gotta get to some other customers.’
‘Sure man. You do that. . .’
‘Who was that?’
‘Dunno. Someone I just met.’
‘Oh really. What did you talk about?’
‘My book.’
‘Oh, so that’s why you brought it with you on our date, to start up conversations with other people?’
‘Oh. I guess I never thought about it.’
‘. . .’
‘Whatever. Let’s go somewhere else. This place is weird.’
Profile Image for B0nnie.
136 reviews49 followers
October 19, 2012
The cover, someone wearing a paper bag, presents a sad, pathetic image. That - along with the title - implies elephant man ugliness, and I'm inclined to be sympathetic before I even start to read. It quickly becomes apparent that the hideousness does not refer to any exterior quality (sometimes there is a physical component to the ugliness, but that fact is secondary). These guys are creeps. The real problem is always within. The “Union of the Hideously and Improbably Deformed” services are not needed. Gradually, remarkably, your disgust turns to pity, to the point where you see how sad and pitiful even a brutal rapist torturer is. Some of these pieces (they're not exactly short stories) are hilarious, with a veneer of sadness. All are smart as a whip.

A few of my favourites:

Death is not the End - A poet has settled. "It is the height of spring, and the trees and shrubbery are in full leaf and are intensely green and still, and are complexly shadowed, and the sky is wholly blue and still, so that the whole enclosed tableau of pool and deck and poet and chair and table and trees and home’s rear façade is very still and composed and very nearly wholly silent, the soft gurgle of the pool’s pump and drain and the occasional sound of the poet clearing his throat or turning the pages of Newsweek magazine the only sounds—not a bird, no distant lawn mowers or hedge trimmers or weed-eating devices, no jets overhead or distant muffled sounds from the pools of the homes on either side of the poet’s home—nothing but the pool’s respiration and poet’s occasional cleared throat, wholly still and composed and enclosed, not even a hint of a breeze to stir the leaves of the trees and shrubbery, the silent living enclosing flora’s motionless green vivid and inescapable and not like anything else in the world in either appearance or suggestion. "

Forever Overhead - Bits of human skin, the sky, water. The end. "Two black spots, violence, and disappear into a well of time. Height is not the problem. It all changes when you get back down. When you hit, with your weight.
So which is the lie? Hard or soft? Silence or time?
The lie is that it’s one or the other. A still, floating bee is moving faster than it can think. From overhead the sweetness drives it crazy.
The board will nod and you will go, and eyes of skin can cross blind into a cloud-blotched sky, punctured light emptying behind sharp stone that is forever. That is forever. Step into the skin and disappear."

B.I. #59 - This one is so funny: a masturbation fantasy based on Bewitched has gone wrong because of the Synodic Period and Sidereal Period. "Well, too, do I remember this envy I felt of my brutish, unimaginative brother, upon whom the excellent scientific instruction of so many of the posts’ schools was sheerly wasted, and he would not be in the least overwhelmed by the consequences of realizing this further: that the earth’s rotation was but one part of its temporal movements, and that in order not to betray the fantasy’s First Premise through causing incongruities in the scientifically catalogued measurements of the Solar Day and the Synodic Period, the earth’s elliptical orbit around the sun must itself be halted by my supernatural hand’s gesture, an orbit whose plane, I had to my misfortune learned in childhood, included a 23.53-degrees angle to the axis of the earth’s own spin, having as well variant equivalents in the measurement of the Synodic Period and Sidereal Period, which required then the rotational and orbital stopping of all other planets and their satellite bodies in the Solar System, each of which forced me to interrupt the masturbation fantasy to perform research and calculations based upon the varying planets’ different spins and angles with respect to the planes of their own orbits around the sun. This was laborious in that era of only very simple hand-held calculators."

B.I. #20 - A re-enactment from the movie (yes, there's a movie!) http://youtu.be/LHXpl2FiVQk

A Hideous Man

B.I. #42 - Unfortunately the irony is lost in the movie, which is the main point here. http://youtu.be/PF_lUrrZYJI

John "I think David Foster Wallace is one of the greatest writers that has ever lived" Krazinski at Starlight Books Los Angeles reads from "Brief Interviews With Hideous Men" which he adapted, directed, and acted in.

Profile Image for Jason.
137 reviews2,348 followers
April 5, 2014
I sold my first car just a little over a year ago. It was sort of a bittersweet thing for me because even though that rustbox was old and broken there was a comfortable familiarity there. I loved it in spite of itself. I venture to guess that if I were ever to get back into the driver’s seat (theoretically, of course—the car is long gone now), I’d be awash in nostalgic warmth and tenderness for it. Then, I’d start driving it and quickly remember that yes, the turn signal does sometimes blink spontaneously without driver input and yes, the heater fan does get “tired” if you keep it too long at Level 4. Oh, not to mention that weird noise when you first start it but I swear it will go away on its own once the car warms up. Still, I would love to be driving it again. In a lot of ways it was a great car; so what if it had a few shortcomings?

DFW’s got a few shortcomings. He’s got that twitchy way of winking at you in his footnotes (some of which go on for pages). He’s got the long, winding sentences that often have a kind of manic quality to them. And often times he devolves with his storytelling choices into an almost experimental writing style (e.g. providing the reader with a story in the form of his narrative notes rather than that of the finished product itself).

And yet, there is definitely still a loveable familiarity there. The footnotes are entertaining, sometimes even fairly amusing. The long sentences are actually pretty brilliant for the most part and lend his stories a qualitative edge that is unique to DFW and somehow just…works. I’m not particularly fond of the writing experiments but I can look past them when they crop up here and there and appreciate the story for what it is. All in all it’s not a bad drive and even with those DFW-isms I hated while reading Infinite Jest, it was nice being back in DFW territory.

Of course not every story in this collection worked for me, which is why I’m only giving it three stars. (Infinite Jest got four.) I hated “Church Not Made with Hands” and “Tri-Stan,” for example. That said, the stories I did like, I loved. Here are my favorites:
“Forever Overhead”
“The Depressed Person”
“Signifying Nothing”
“Adult World”
Oh and but except the other thing this DFW car does that’s pretty quirky sometimes is instead of successfully ending a story it’ll just
Profile Image for Hosein.
179 reviews87 followers
November 4, 2022
اومبرتو اکو توی "آنک نام گل" توضیح می‌داد که توی اروپا، واژه‌ی لپروس (جزامی‌ها) صرفا به افراد جزامی گفته نمی‎شه. مربوط می‌شه به تمام افرادی که توی بطن جامعه حضور ندارن، به نوعی فردیت اون‌ها متفاوته از چیزی که دنیای اطراف نیاز داره. ادبیات همیشه علاقه‌ی زیادی به اون‌ها نشون داده، از امثال دکامرون گرفته تا آثار مارک تواین، همه به نوعی وصل می‌شدن به بخشِ جدا افتاده‌ی جامعه.

قطعا هزاران کتاب هست که من نخوندم، ولی بین اون‌هایی که خوندم "مصاحبه‌های کوتاه با مردان کریه" بهترین بود. روشی که به شخصیت اصلی نزدیک می‌شد، نظراتش رو می‌گفت و مغز مخاطب رو به کار می‌گرفت بی‌نظیر بود. خیلی وقت پیش یک نفر بهم گفت که موقع خوندن فاستر والاس نویسنده از تو کمتر فکر می‌کنه، فقط داره جزئیات رو بهت نشون می‌ده و تو مجبوری که فکر کنی. بخش‌هایی که مصاحبه‌هایی با مردان کریه بود واقعا همینطور می‌شد، مخصوصا قسمت آخر. فاستر والاس توی مغز من بود تمام این مدت، داشت در مورد چیزایی حرف می‌زد که من بارها دیده بودم، اما این دفعه بخش‌های نامرئی رو نشونم می‌داد. از دستشویی‌های عمومی گرفته تا تجاوز، به حدی جزئیات قدرتمند بودن که صرفا حس تخیل من نبود که همراهش می‌شد، من می‌تونستم بشنوم و تمام بوهایی که توی این نوشته‌ها بودن خونه‌م رو پر می‌کردن.
بعد از این همه سال کتاب خوندن، مواجه با چیزی شبیه به این عجیب بودن. من توی این چند روز چیزی رو تجربه کردم که نه انتظارشو داشتم، نه خیال می‌کردم امکان‌پذیره. این فوق‌العاده‌ست!

در مورد بقیه‌ی داستان‌های کتاب هم باید بگم بیشترشون واقعا قوی بودن، اما اون وسط چندتایی هم بودن که مشخصا خود نویسنده سعی می���کرد ازشون چیز جدیدی بسازه، حتی خودش اشاره می‌کرد که اینقدر یکسری از بخش‌ها خسته کننده‌ می‌شن که مخاطب به آخرش نمی‌رسه، برسه هم پیام رو نمی‌گیره. برای همین نمی‌تونم ایرادی از اون داستان‌ها بگیرم، فاستر والاس به نتیجه‌ای که می‌خواست رسیده، من کی باشم که بگم اون خوبه یا بد.

پ.ن: کاملا از عمد بخش پایانی کتاب که مصاحبه‌ی فاستر والاس و نوشته‌هایی در مورد اونه رو نخوندم. حس کردم همینقدری که ازش می‌دونم کافیه. دوست دارم از طریق داستان‌هاش بهش نزدیک بشم و بشناسمش.

پ.ن 2: اگه اتفاقی نیوفته و زنده و آزاد بمون توی ماه‌های آینده، برای پروژه‌ی دانشگاهم یک انیمیشن کوتاه از روی داستان "آن بالا، تا ابد" بسازم.
Profile Image for Roula.
522 reviews147 followers
December 15, 2019
Ακολουθεί μια καθόλου ψύχραιμη κριτικη:

Το να διαβάσει κανείς βιβλία του David foster Wallace, δεν είναι και ο, τι πιο εύκολο για πολλούς λόγους. Η γραφή του πολλές φορές είναι σαν απλώς να καταγραφεί απευθείας στο χαρτί ο, τι ακριβώς έχει στο μυαλό του, χωρίς δεύτερες σκέψεις και οργάνωση. Όμως όταν έχεις ήδη διαβάσει το μεγαλύτερο μέρος του συνολικού έργου του, όπως συμβαίνει με μένα και απλά λατρεύεις το μυαλό του και τον τρόπο σκέψης του, όπως επίσης συμβαίνει με μένα, τότε απλά απολαμβάνει�� τα όσα είχε να πει. Δε ξέρω λοιπόν τι ευθύνεται, το ότι έχω διαβάσει πολύ Wallace, το ότι μου ταιριάζει τόσο ο τρόπος σκέψης και γραφής του, το ότι ανυπομονούσα τόσο γιαυτό το βιβλίο.. Όπως και να χει, το βιβλίο αυτό το ΛΆΤΡΕΨΑ!! σίγουρα μπαίνει στα αγαπημένα μου όχι μόνο του συγγραφέα, αλλά γενικά. Είναι ένα βιβλίο που αποτελείται από μικρές ή μεγαλύτερες ιστορίες που όλες τους έχουν ως πυρηνα τους άνδρες και μάλιστα τους "Απαίσιους" όπως χαρακτηρίζονται από τον συγγραφέα. Όλοι τους με μικρά ή πολύ μεγάλα ελλατωματα με σκέψεις και πράξεις που δύσκολα ένας άνδρα�� τις παραδέχεται και πολύ περισσότερο τις καταγραφεί.. Πραγματικά λάτρεψα το ευρυμα των συνεντεύξεων που αποτελεί το μεγαλύτερο κομμάτι του βιβλίου και έδωσε και τον τίτλο, αλλά για μένα οι πιο "σημαντικές" ιστορίες ήταν κάτι ολιγοσέλιδα διαμάντια διασκορπισμενα σε όλο το βιβλίο που μου έφεραν από δεος έως και δάκρυα στα μάτια με την τελειότητα τους(βλ. "πάντα πάνω", "δίχως νόημα", "στο νεκροκρεβατο του.." και το μεγαλειώδες φινάλε "ακόμη ένα παράδειγμα για το πόσο διατρητα είναι ορισμένα συνορα(xxiv). Ξέρω πως ίσως ακούγομαι υπερβολική ή ότι διαβάζοντας κάποιος το βιβλίο αυτό ή άλλο του συγγραφέα να μη συμφωνήσει καθόλου με τα όσα λέω, όμως αυτή είναι η μαγεία της ανάγνωσης, όταν βρίσκεις κομμάτια των σκέψεων σου και της ψυχής σου αποτυπωμένα στο χαρτί από κάποιον που δε σε γνωρίζει, ούτε τον γνωρίζεις. Για μένα αυτή η μαγεία βρίσκεται στις σελίδες αυτού του βιβλίου.
Υ. Γ. Υπήρχαν μια ή δυο ιστορίες που δε μου άρεσαν τόσο, αλλά σε καμία περίπτωση δε μπορω να μειώσω τη βαθμολογία του βιβλίου κάτω από 5 αστέρια, καθώς οι υπόλοιπες δε μου άρεσαν απλά, αλλά με ενθουσίασαν.
Profile Image for MJ Nicholls.
2,050 reviews4,118 followers
July 27, 2012
4.5 stars rounded up to a fanboyish five. Brief Interviews is the strongest short story collection from the affectionately acronymously monikered DFW in this reviewer’s eyes—Girl With Curious Hair falling too far into a sort of rat-escaping-the-fictional-labyrinth obliqueness, and Oblivion supersized with unstoppable novella-length formal flops. Both flaws are in evidence here but are steeped in so much hip-shaking wonderment it’s heartless not too turn a blind eye. ‘Forever Overhead’ and ‘The Depressed Person’ and ‘Octet’ and the title stories are the formidable insulation of the book, caulked with little vignettes and cool experiments, giving the collection a clear-minded unity, purpose . . . manifesto, even. Unlike the other collections, Brief Interviews feels touched with the same form-owning irrepressible one-man Goliathian intellectual megalomania at play in Infinite Jest and A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again. The mostly appalling ‘Tri-Stan’ and ‘On His Deathbed’ can be excused because they belong to the broader purpose of allowing the one-of-a-kind mind of DFW to expand to its fattest, happiest horizons on the page for us all to see. Not that I’m pandering to the mythopoeia or anything. But this is a seriously significant work. Got it? [P.S. The UK Abacus DFW editions are useless. Miniscule fonts and hideous covers will not help win a legion of British supporters—look at poor Paul Bryant . . . ]
Profile Image for Junta.
130 reviews225 followers
October 10, 2018
Update while reading, October 24 2016:
I'm enamored with his writing so much at the moment that I'm sharing a whole segment here. This is one of the 'Brief Interviews with Hideous Men' which has made a huge impression on me so far. (pp.20-22)
B.I. #11 06-96
'All right, I am, okay, yes, but hang on a second, okay? I need you to try and understand this. Okay? Look. I know I'm moody. I know I'm kind of withdrawn sometimes. I know I'm hard to be in this with, okay? All right? But this every time I get moody or withdrawn you thinking I'm leaving or getting ready to ditch you - I can't take it. This thing of you being afraid all the time. It wears me out. It makes me feel like I have to, like, hide whatever mood I might be in because right away you're going to think it's about you and that I'm getting ready to ditch you and leave. You don't trust me. You don't. It's not like I'm saying given our history I deserved a whole lot of trust right off the bat. But you still don't at all. There's like zero security no matter what I do. Okay? I said I'd promise I wouldn't leave and you said you believed me that I was in this with you for the long haul this time, but you didn't. Okay? Just admit it, all right? You don't trust me. I'm on eggshells all the time. Do you see? I can't keep going around reassuring you all the time.'
'No, I'm not saying this is reassuring. What this is is just trying to get you to see - okay, look, things ebb and flow, okay? Sometimes people are just more into it than other times. This is just how it is. But you can't stand ebb. It feels like no ebb's allowed. And I know that's partly my fault, okay? I know the other times didn't exactly make you feel secure. But I can't change that, okay? But this is now. And now I feel like anytime I'd just rather not talk or get a little moody or withdrawn you think I'm plotting to ditch you. And that breaks my heart. Okay? It just breaks my heart. Maybe if I loved you a little less or cared about you less I could take it. But I can't. So yes, that's what the bags are, I'm leaving.'
'And I was - this is just how I was afraid you'd take it. I knew it, that you'd think this means you were right to be afraid all the time and never feel secure or trust me. I knew it'd be "See, you're leaving after all when you promised you wouldn't." I knew it but I'm trying to explain anyway, okay? And I know you probably won't understand this either, but - wait - just try to listen and maybe absorb this, okay? Ready? Me leaving is not the confirmation of all your fears about me. It is not. It's because of them. Okay? Can you see that? It's your fear I can't take. It's your distrust and fear I've been trying to fight. And I can't anymore. I'm out of gas on it. If I loved you even a little less maybe I could take it. But this is killing me, this constant feeling that I'm always scaring you and never making you feel secure. Can you see that?'
It is ironic from your point of view, I can see that. Okay. And I can see you totally hate me now. And I've spent a long time getting myself to where I'm ready to face your totally hating me for this and this look of like total confirmation of all your fears and suspicions on your face if you could see it, okay? I swear if you could see your face right now anybody'd understand why I'm leaving.'
'I'm sorry. I don't mean to put it all on you. I'm sorry. It's not you, okay? I mean, it has to be something about me if you can't trust me after all these weeks or stand even just a little normal ebb and flow without always thinking I'm getting ready to leave. I don't know what, but there must be. Okay, and I know our history's not great, but I swear to you I meant everything I said, and I've tried a hundred-plus percent. I swear to God I did. I'm so sorry. I'd give anything in the world not to hurt you. I love you. I always will love you. I hope you believe that, but I'm giving up trying to get you to. Just please believe I tried. And don't think this is about something wrong with you. Don't do that to yourself. It's us, us is why I'm leaving, okay? Can you see that? That it's not what you've always been so afraid of? Okay? Can you see that? Can you maybe see you just might have been wrong, even possibly? Could you give me that much, do you think? Because this isn't exactly fun for me either, okay? Leaving like this, seeing your face like this as my last mental picture of you. Can you see I might be pretty torn up about it too? Can you? That you're not alone in this?'
Nov 17, 2016: watched the film adaptation a couple of nights ago. Not bad, but definitely read the book first; the film wasn't so memorable.

October 9, 2018: I recently read about adult attachment theory, and came to the realisation that several of the 'interviews' may have really hit home for me because DFW and I share some similar flaws (in the sphere of relationships and personality), belonging to the group of avoidants (fearful-avoidant rather than dismissive-avoidant, though maybe a mix of both). Well, it seemed to me that it would be impossible to write what he wrote without having experienced such scenarios himself; but it could be that he's just that good at writing, of course.
December 13, 2017
Brevi interviste di uomini schifosi, D.Wallace
W. non vuole essere uno scrittore che tratta il suo lettore da deficiente, con la scusa che la modernità tale lo ha reso.
Non vuole lisciarlo per il pelo offrendogli un brano commerciale, una trama avvincente che lo catturi completamente e gli faccia dimenticare di essere seduto in poltrona; né fare narrativa "di qualità" per descriverci personaggi senz’anima e senza amore, come se stesso peraltro, e che ripete semplicemente all’infinito il concetto. Il nostro non lo fa.
Piuttosto, lui si chiede come mai qualche essere umano “schifoso o meno” possa continuare ancora, in questo mondo, a provare la capacità gioia e carità per cose che non hanno un prezzo.
È questo l’obiettivo del vero scrittore: far crescere queste capacità alla maniera, dico, di Tolstoj, autore che lui cita molto.
La sua scrittura ti mette davanti il povero corpo umano scorticato, senza pelle,carne viva: c’è pietà in Wallace. La sento mentre rido a crepapelle delle grottesche avventure senza speranza, di quel ritratto iperrealistico della condizione umana moderna.
La mancanza d'amore, la corsa al debellamento del dolore fisico e psichico, mero sintomo, è causa di tutto questo squallore umano.
Jack Gladney, in Rumore Bianco di De Lillo, non riesce a trovare la radice del proprio dolore e si rifugia nel tempio del consumismo, proprio per sfuggire alla paura della fine. I personaggi di Wallace ricalcano quelli di De Lillo. Ma questi ha gettato la spugna senza rimpianti, con il pessimismo della ragione. Wallace invece non riesce a liberarsi dalla disperazione della perdita dell'empatia umana e non a caso finisce com’è finito, con il suicidio, per l'impossibilità di accettare lo stato delle cose.

Contrariamente alla scrittura ottocentesca di Tolstoj, al grande romanzo "realistica" che rende familiare ciò che è strano, lui rende di nuovo strano ciò che è ormai ci diventato familiare. "Nella persona depressa"., terrificante è l'indifferenza – indifferenza che ora è auspicata come “sano amore di sé”- della depressa verso l'unica amica "telefonica" che le è rimasta: povera donna terminale, che può ascoltarla tra un conato e l'altro mentre quella, guarda caso, le chiede di risponderle sinceramente se sia anaffettiva o no.
L���arma dell’ironia nelle sue mani non si limita a svelare le sgradevoli realtà dell’ammorbante letteratura contemporanea, in cui l’ironia è diventata fine a se stessa ( vedi l’ultimo Roth o il tanto decantato Cosmopolis di De Lillo); piuttosto lui osa parlare dei modi in cui si possa tentare di aggiustare quello che non va. È come se desse voce solo alla parte di lui che ama le cose che scrive, che ama il testo a cui sta lavorando. Che ama quel padre, per quanto schifoso sia, che in punto di morte non si dà pace di avere passato tutta la vita a odiare il figlio senza osare dirlo. Se il corpo non lo avesse abbandonato in quell’istante, forse avrebbe potuto redimersi. Ne prova pietà. W. prende il principio dell'amore, molto sul serio e attraverso i suoi personaggi schifosi ci mostra dove siamo arrivati oltre il quale c’è il baratro.
W. non si sottrae all'imperativo categorico morale come perno della Zoe umana, indipendentemente della sua più o meno perfetta biòs.
W. Non si limita a mostrare. Non si lava le mani di fronte al degrado umano. Cerca una soluzione. Dà al lettore l'opportunità di interloquire con lui, in una specie di "tu con te stesso" socratiano. Per fare questo è consapevole che gli strumenti tolstojani non sono più sufficienti. E allora usa un linguaggio preciso, certosino, che non solo "realizza" la realtà ma ne fa cogliere quella realtà di cui non sospettiamo l'esistenza: la realtà del vuoto a cui non dobbiamo rassegnarci e a cui lui non si è rassegnato.
Profile Image for L.S. Popovich.
Author 2 books341 followers
July 13, 2020
Recommended for hardcore DFW fans. This collection is a deeply personal, scattered exhibit of loneliness, a harrowing, sad, and convincing portrayal of damaged psyches. Wit, brilliance, and exuberance are all evident in Wallace's oeuvre, but here, must be discerned through strata of mimesis.

Listening to the audiobook reading by the author this time around allowed me to feel landscapes of hurt and brokenness within its multitudes of layers of densely packed, heady elegance. Its psychological abysses yawned before me, its desolate precision etched indelible fingerprints of gracious remembrance into my mind.

Elevating this story-jumble are the author's tangentially related interviews with fictitious personalities, wherein elaborate thought-salads congeal into heartbreaking, cohesive episodes of disturbing humanness.

Unlike his other 2 story collections, untamed libidos and feverish perversity reign here - hence the title - along with truly awe-inspiring prose-segments, interspersed in a confusing and disorienting package, where every page yields meteoric surprises, hand-in-hand with sweaty frustrations, culled from the unhallowed interior corridors of bed-sheet-twisting angst. Especially notable are the longer pieces, the meditations on violence, where Wallace proves his mastery of voice and imitative dialogue. He somehow renders incomprehensible concepts digestible, and translates his polymathic cogitations for the layman reader.

My second reading enlarged upon my first, and no doubt a third review of his complete works would uncover further joys. His contribution to American letters is astounding, and though divisive, these fragmentary stories depict an oft-forgotten side of Wallace, who had a tendency to tiptoe around his own insecurities, except when he dramatized them, when, carried away by the slippery slope of his magnificent intellect, he connects the dots for us, that we might better come to terms with the hidden maps of the mind and heart.
Profile Image for Leo Robertson.
Author 36 books446 followers
August 12, 2018
The Asshole Monologues.

Re-reading for a writing project...

Man does DFW ever ramble on!

He gets a pass because of what it felt like reading this book for the first time ;)

Original review.

I won't reveal too much about the individual stories because I don't want to take away the surprise, but:

- Amongst other devices, post-modern or otherwise, metafiction and the dreaded poioumena are used properly and to fantastic effect: yes, they are. I've never seen it done before. Never understood it, but peeling back the layers of the storytelling to reveal the process of writing works amazingly with some of these stories in that it for example shows the inability to craft a powerful story in modern times without sounding like you're falling into cliche, and even reflecting our own angst in doing this when we talk to each other (I definitely do this and I'm worried you think that what I just wrote is pretentious. Such is the unavoidable nature of contributing anything! And one of the best messages here is that double-guessing and attempted likeability can be fatal to anything worth saying. So I'm leaving it.)

- Bar 2 or 3, each of these stories feels like a punch in the face, and whether or not you agree with DFW's analysis (and it is often open anyway) you owe it to yourself to ask... yourself the questions that they pose, even if you end up concurring with your own philosophy heretofore.

- These stories are what the short story is for. Asking yourself 'What is a short story?' feels redundant but the question no less rhetorical, and I think this collection is a great example of what short stories do. Infinite bloody Jest, say, cannot achieve what these stories can- not that it is better or worse, it is only not a short story, agreed?

So as an homage to what I think this book stands for, at risk of sounding gushy or pretentious, trite or pleading for attention, these are my bare bones honest thoughts. I would strongly advise that you read this book.
Profile Image for Susanna.
59 reviews23 followers
October 7, 2017
David Foster Wallace. L'ho sentito nominare tante volte ma senza mai decidermi a comprare qualche suo libro. Ho iniziato con questo....certo è ancora un pò presto per farmi un'idea completa sull'autore, però è un inizio.
Il libro è costituito da diverse brevi interviste a uomini che rispondono a domande di cui non sapremo mai il contenuto ma solo la risposta.
È un libro doloroso e schietto; doloroso e a tratti spaventoso perchè ci mette di fronte ad un lato dell'umanità pesante: uomini feriti, deviati, frustrati, rassegnati alla vita. Un'umanità che sembra impossibile redimere. Questi uomini hanno consapevolezza di ciò che fanno, sono veri e fastidiosi. Le loro risposte a domande di cui non conosciamo il contenuto sono liberi pensieri che corrono e si mescolano a quello principale della risposta. Wallace in questo è un gran genio, riesce perfettamente ad immedesimarsi in queste vite, descrivendo ogni minimo dettaglio di tutto ciò che queste persone pensano, velocemente, come se fosse urgente dire certe cose senza però aver sempre consapevolezza di quello che si dice, in una valanga di pensieri brevi e non. Ed è un libro schietto perché entriamo nei pensieri dolorosi, brutti, di queste persone.
Ma è un libro molto interessante perché scandaglia in maniera perfetta l'animo umano senza preoccuparsi se la parte rivelata è pulita o meno, l'uomo è anche questo e non possiamo fare finta che questo lato non esista. Una scrittura non sempre semplice e piena di note che sono molto funzionali alla sua narrazione (anche se io ooooodiooooo le note).
Assolutamente raccomandato, anche se forse c'è periodo e periodo nella vita per leggerlo.
Profile Image for Franco  Santos.
484 reviews1,359 followers
September 18, 2018
Tiene relatos excelentes y otros que son mera tentativa posmodernista efectista. En general, me gustó, en especial La persona deprimida (brillante de principio a fin), El suicidio como una especie de regalo (oscuro y muy poderoso) y todas las Entrevistas breves con hombres repulsivos (exceptuando la última: soporífera).

Tengo que agregar que de esta novela es muy improbable salir sin haber aprendido algo nuevo, o al menos sin conocerse mejor a uno mismo. El intelecto de Wallace es palpable en cada párrafo de sus mejores trabajos, en este caso, cuentos.

Me hizo reír a montones, me hizo odiar, entristecer y me abrió los ojos ante algunos conceptos. En este libro Wallace no se guardó nada. Es controversial, toca temas polémicos que me hicieron pensar en cosas incómodas. Considerando al autor, es una obra amena, que recomiendo sin lugar a dudas.
Profile Image for Scott.
292 reviews317 followers
August 9, 2018
It seems I am a little stupid. A bit slow. Not so quick on the uptake. Perhaps even a hair over the boundary separating the uncultured from the genuinely dumb-ass.

The reason for this sudden self-awareness, my profound dumb-lightenment?

I can’t read David Foster Wallace. I tried. I opened Brief Interviews With Hideous Men and bashed myself against the towering walls of his prolixity, his long meandering stories, the seemingly endless sentences.

And oh, those sentences. They are rabbits disappearing down endless winding warrens, lit only by the dim glow of ten-dollar words.

If Wallace’s most famous work - Infinite Jest - is anything like his short stories it would have more aptly been named infinite Sentence. Seriously. Forget just taking a breather in the middle of some of DFW’s sentences to gather yourself and try to hold all the ideas he presents together. You’ll need to take a packed lunch, and perhaps an emergency beacon for when you inevitably become lost in his deep jungles of words that stretch for half a page or more, with only the odd comma to mark the trail.

For me, Foster Wallace is the kind of writer who has you constantly flicking a few pages ahead, trying to motivate yourself with a mixture of the thoughts ‘there really aren’t that many pages to go, I can finish this’ and ‘this is a test. I have to finish this to prove that the internet hasn’t ruined my attention span.’

Once upon a time I would have flogged myself through this collection. I would have whipped myself along with an imaginary birch switch, believing that finishing this book would be character building, that I would be a better, maybe smarter person for making it to the end. Now, painfully aware that I will never have time to read all the books I want to in my lifetime, I am past this kind of self-improving masochism. I bailed on Brief Interviews With Hideous Men at the halfway point.

I didn’t hate all the stories I got through. There’s artistry here, and a sense of humour in some of the titular stories where awful men demonstrate and justify their awfulness. DFW has style, and wit, but he does not possess, in any measure, succinctness. Each paragraph is an interesting example of form and language, but, in their multitudes their uniqueness becomes uniform, their meandering tedious, their overall effect anything but the ‘Brief’ promised in the title.

David Foster Wallace has long seemed to me to be a cultural marker in the reading world. An author to be seen reading on the train, a delineator between cultured, Capital-L-Literary reader types and the genre-reading, hoi polloi. If that is the case, then I count myself among the unwashed, Stephen-King-loving masses, a reading milieu where you only flick ahead in a story when, gripped with excitement, you cannot wait to see how it ends.
Profile Image for Bookfreak.
176 reviews23 followers
January 17, 2020
1. Είναι μεγάλη υπόθεση που σιγά σιγά ολόκληρο το έργο του DFW μεταφράζεται στη γλώσσα μας, ώστε να έχουμε άμεση αναγνωστική επαφή με τον σπουδαίο συγγραφέα και να μη εγκλωβιστούμε στον μύθο που τον συνοδεύει.

2. Σε αυτή τη συλλογή λογοτεχνήματων λοιπόν με κύριο θέμα τις ανθρώπινες σχέσεις στη μεταμοντέρνα εποχή μας, μερικά κείμενα (διηγήματα μάλλον είναι ένας καταχρηστικός όρος) είναι τολμηρά αριστουργήματα που φτάνουν στις πιο ακραίες περιοχές του ανθρώπινου ψυχισμού, άλλα είναι πιο πειραματικά και παίζουν με την ίδια τη μορφή του κειμένου και της γλώσσας.

3. Σε κάτι που μπορεί να σταθεί κανείς είναι μια από τις έμμονες ιδέες του DFW που επανέρχεται και σε αυτό το βιβλίο του: το πως δηλαδή διαμορφώνονται οι ανθρώπινες σχέσεις σε μια εποχή οπού το άτομο γνωρίζει (με την συνδρομή της ψυχανάλυσης και των υπόλοιπων τεχνικών αυτογνωσίας) τα κίνητρα του, την σημασία του περιβάλλοντος και των οικογενειακών του βιωμάτων. Αυτή η γνώση αλλά και η γνώση της γνώσης του Άλλου δημιουργεί ατέρμονες αντανακλάσεις που πολλές φορές καταλήγουν σε μια αδιέξοδη και ιδιοτελή μορφή σχέσεων που τελικά εγκλωβίζει παρά απελευθερώνει. Τελικά μας λέει ο DFW ο Άλλος (όσο τρομακτικός και να είναι) είναι ουσιώδες κομμάτι μας και όχι απλώς μια προέκταση του εαυτού μας.

4. Αν κάτι με συγκρατεί προσωπικά καποιες στιγμές είναι ίσως ότι ο DFW είναι πολύ πιο Αμερικάνος για τα γούστα μου, νιώθω δλδ ένα χάσμα (πολιτισμικό, βιωματικό, παραδειγματικό) που η λογοτεχνική του δημιουργία δε μπορεί να γεφυρώσει.

5. Μετάφραση νομίζω πολύ καλή αν λάβει κανείς υπόψη του τη δυσκολία του κειμένου, επίμετρο ατυχές στα συν ότι έχει στο τέλος βιβλιογραφία για περαιτέρω μελέτη.

Profile Image for Laura.
126 reviews35 followers
March 24, 2009
I just finished reading Brief Interviews With Hideous Men. This book is some kind of a literary masterpiece yeah. I just didn’t enjoy reading it that much.
I understand what this book is supposed to be, and it’s very eye-opening to note what he is doing/trying to do/succeeding to do in any one of these stories, but it is simply not enjoyable to read. It is rather like– as a child does in one of the earlier stories in this book, the only story I enjoyed– finding yourself forced to leap off of a high-dive. Post-leap, there are several different ways to consider yourself as having grown somehow, but during the dive it is not at all entertaining. You may find yourself feeling harassed, terrified, bored, or any other of a number of unpleasant emotions, and when you are finished you will cry GOD I AM GLAD THAT IS OVER and you will go on living some kind of expanded life and cease to think much about said high-dive UNLESS you are one of those people who find themselves compelled constantly to do unpleasant things and therefore suddenly find yourself compelled, through this unpleasant childhood experience most other people are busy forgetting, to become a world-class high-dive leaper.
The big thing is this: yes, it is clever to be all sorts of postmodern, and yes, those who can pull it off well are all geniuses and deserve much praise– and DFW can pull it off well, frequently– but this is still not the kind of thing that books were invented for. They’re not enjoyable as short stories. I don’t care if they are a ‘delight’ and a ‘harassment of the short story form’. I am not going to want to read short stories if the writer of the short stories wrote them in order to harass me. In the same way, though I would credit laudable creativity to an artist whose form of sculpture involved filling a room with knives, I would not particularly enjoy being in that room, and would instead feel a degree of tension of be a little bit upset.
The only one of these stories I actually enjoyed was ‘Forever Overhead,’ a brilliant piece about a boy on a high-dive. I think it is stunning. Other sections– the first of the ‘Hideous Men’ sections, for instance, or ‘Church Not Made With Hands’, a story about a young family in a tragic situation– are wonderful also, but are, in the case of the first, not as easy to enjoy, or, in the case of the second, so buried into the abrasive unpleasantness of the rest of this excellently-written book that by the time the reader gets to it he or she is simply too mentally exhausted to even recognize that this story is well-done and pleasant instead of abrasive. Putting the book down does not help– remembering prior sections can so trouble or bore that reading onward simply becomes as unpleasant as they were, regardless of whether or not the bit you are actually reading is itself unpleasant. The writing gets to be its least-bearable when he starts to write totally ironically about how stupid it is to always be totally ironic. I don’t know if it’s possible to sarcastically criticise sarcasm without sounding like a jerk, even if you ARE DFW.
The fact is this: when DFW wants to make you experience, as in ‘The Depressed Person,’ what it is like to enter the mind of a severely depressed person, he does it in such a way and with such accuracy and force that there is practically no room for the reader to reflect. That’s how genuine it gets. It is the same, though less so, with the bit about an honored playwright’s father who, on his death bed, insists on going on and on a bout how much he hates his talented son. DFW simply presents these relentless neverending trauma-filled paragraphs one after another as if he is pounding the reader’s head with a bloody brick, and the reader must shout ‘God, this is spectacular, DFW! Now please get the brick out of my eye!’ The question we should all be asking is NOT ‘Is this good?‘ The question should be, ‘Am I having a good time reading this?‘ It is a totally inescapable fact that wholly unpleasant things are rarely saved for posterity. Even upsetting or pathologically-focused books, like Crime and Punishment, are saved because there is something accessible or somehow pleasant about the reading experience that makes at least some of us refrain from hurling it out of a window. There is barely any such redeeming factor here.
So. DFW is some kind of literary god. But it is now perfectly self-evident to me why more writers are not running around trying to be as horrifically postmodern as he was. It is soul-crushingly unhappy to be so postmodern. I do not mean to be crass, but these stories make it clear that DFW understands human agony and disgrace and depression. And he killed himself. So, I say this: it is okay not to like this book. Read it and perhaps admire it, but it is okay to dislike it. The reason you dislike it so much is that you have understood what DFW was trying to do. And the thing he was trying to do was not to write an accessible, edifying book, but to conduct ‘a harassment of the short story form,’ which is the opposite of what short stories are for. One does not go around trying to become a successful baker by baking breads which are a harassment of the mouth. There is a reason for this.
Profile Image for Mala.
158 reviews186 followers
July 14, 2012

Recommended for: DFW fans, ppl who want to expand their vocabulary & their mind.
Shelf: Postmodernism,metafiction,American writer,short stories.

I have many DFW works on my shelf but i picked this particular book up as the cover really grabbed my attention: the male face; covered in burlap sack,reminded me of the Phantom from 'The Phantom of the Opera', but unlike the tortured,homicidal,musical genius whose passion,angelic voice & sad past,made him a tragic character, hence,easy to feel compassion for- the same can't be said of this gallery of "hideous men"(save case no 46 & 42): pathological characters of varying degrees & hues: self absorbed,neurotic,cunning,cruel & what's worse aware of their cruelty,these meta, post-structuralist men who speak in quotation marks; throw their readings of Foucault & Lacan at you! 
Sample this from a grad student:
"This,of course,is because today's postfeminist era is also today's postmodern era,in which supposedly everybody now knows everything about what's really going on underneath all the semiotic codes & cultural conventions,& everybody is operating out of,& so we're all as individuals held to be far more responsible for our sexuality,since everything we do is now unprecedentedly conscious & informed."

Conscious & informed indeed! Only trouble is,they have rationalised their feelings to such an extent that they are unable to feel anything anymore--as the male in the concluding interview cries out:
"what an empty way this was to come at women...empty. To gaze & not see,to eat & not be full. Not just to feel but be empty."

And therefore,empathise with such poor men,we must cause as DFW says,the primary aim of fiction is to "allow us imaginatively to identify with characters' pain" so that "we might then also more easily conceive of others identifying with our own. This is nourishing,redemptive; we become less alone inside."

Arranged around these interviews are short stories & short sketches of alternating length & structure. Most of these worked for me,few like 'Church Not Made With Hands','Datum Centurio' etc. did not.

The stand out stories are 'Tri -Stan: I Sold Sissee Nar to Ecko': brilliant in its wit & biting satire,its mock epic struture is beyond praise! It recalled to mind Pope's mock epic 'The Rape of the Lock' where a trivial theme is given a grand epic treatment.

The controversial 'The Depressed Person' where Wallace ironically points out time & again that this person is suffering due to her narcissism rather than past wounds.

My fav story of this story cycle is 'Forever Overhead' which was included in Best American Short Stories (1992)-- it's a simple coming-of-age tale where a boy,on his 13th b'day,decides to sneakily jump into the community pool from a high dive. Here the form & theme coalesce beautifully.  On a different level,this story even reads like a metaphysical musing on life,death & beyond which is true in a way as"All changes,even the most longed for,have their melancholy;for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves. We must die to one life before we can enter another."(one of my fav quotes though sadly can't recall the author).

This book is a good introduction to Wallace's work as most ppl eagerly(& wrongly) begin with 'Infinite Jest' & then are turned catatonic by it's verbal wizardry & stylistic pyrotechnics (as happened to me long back!). To quote Marshall Boswell:

"Brief Interviews...does,however,work as a decisive & articulate recaptitulation of Wallace's by now characteristic themes,including depression,solipsism,community,
self-consciousness--both textual & psychological--& the impact on our collective consciousness of therapeutic discourse writ large... More a clearinghouse of still vital ideas than a bold shift in direction,Brief interviews with Hideous Men is possibly Wallace's most 'characteristic' book."

Here is a link to this excellent critical analysis'Understanding David Foster Wallace' by Marshall Boswell,in case you are not satisfied with "200 words capsule reviews" & you shdn't be! Writers like Wallace need to be read with a couple of reference books & a dictionary near you & i mean that in a good way unlike Faulkner's mean swipe at Hemingway!


*. *. *

The opening story 'A Radically Condensed History of Post-industrial Life' is condensed like a haiku: only two terse passages,containing wealth of references : i was reminded of this beautifully poignant short story 'The Chrysanthemums' by Steinbeck,where a travelling salesman,in order to find some work,strikes up a conversation with a woman on her favorite topic of flowers. The woman is delighted & even hands him a few pots of eponymous chrysanthemums,only to find them later discarded by the roadside.
Here's a link to this wonderful story:

Why call such encounters only postindustrial? Such fakeness & superficiality in human relationships has been there since time immemorial so much so that when someone is being genuinely nice to you,you still wonder"Am i missing something,what's the catch here!?"
Also such examples are so common here on Goodreads: someone makes a lame joke on some thread,another laughs uproariously/someone writes a decidedly third-rate poem,another treats it as if it were the next thing to Eliot!  Only here they don't drive home alone with the same twist on their faces: it ends with a friend request & an acceptance. But make no mistakes abt it: there are no friendships here only a "reading network".
Profile Image for Dave Schaafsma.
Author 6 books31.5k followers
September 1, 2021
I have a confession to make; I am an obsessive reader, even a reader of postmodern fiction, but I think this is the first fiction I have read from David Foster Wallace. I read his former wife Karen Green's reflection about him in her book, Bough Down, and some of his non-fiction, but when I saw that I could hear the author narrate this book (with a few actors) and saw it was not the thousand page length of Infinite Jest, I decided to listen to it. It was a kind of rollercoaster experience for me. The dude can write, so listening to the language tumbling out of various men's mouths was at turns exhilarating and disgusting. More disgusting as the stories of hideous men piled up, but I was never entirely without admiration for his propulsive prose.

As I read I was reminded of Joyce and his breathless, stream-of-consciousness cataloguing, all the long, flowing sentences, and the great talk. All of Wallace's men are non-stop talking obsessively lost and narcissistic/misogynistic men talking about women throughout, but the language is itself seductive. I thought of Nabokov's Lolita: I am being seduced by the very language Wallace uses to depict behavior and ideas of which I simply cannot approve, which sometimes even turns my stomach, and yet makes me admire his taking on the deepest darkest places in (male) psyches. Some of it is funny, and some of it makes me cry and some of it makes me sad, and some of it makes me angry. There were plays by Neil LaBute and others in the nineties that captured male assholism very well and this is part of that admirable and hard to stomach tradition.

Here's an example of the kind of outrageous/hideous guy he includes, a guy who is explaining why he is dumping his girlfriend:

“And I was--this is just how I was afraid you'd take it. I knew it, that you'd think this means you were right to be afraid all the time and never feel secure or trust me. I knew it'd be 'See, you're leaving after all when you promised you wouldn't.' I knew it but I'm trying to explain anyway, okay? And I know you probably won't understand this either, but --wait-- just try to listen and maybe absorb this, okay? Ready? Me leaving is not the confirmation of all your fears about me. It is not. It's because of them. Okay? Can you see that? It's your fear I can't take. It's your distrust and fear I've been trying to fight. And I can't anymore. I'm out of gas on it. If I loved you even a little less maybe I could take it. But this is killing me, this constant feeling that I am always scaring you and never making you feel secure. Can you see that?”

The interviews are page long monologues by guys who just cannot shut up, alternated with Q, though we never hear the Question, the interviewer, often a woman, who is thus silenced. I have to say, though, that this book is very good fiction, technically a collection of related stories, which has sent me in a little spiral of depression about men on this planet. And that was Wallace's problem, depression, which may in fact have led him to write this very book. But the writing is often amazing.
Profile Image for Daniele.
214 reviews54 followers
June 10, 2020
Credo che questa raccolta sia il Wallace piú ostico incontrato fino ad oggi, con uno stile di scrittura estremamente diverso da racconto a racconto ed una terminologia spesso molto complessa (ma DFW ci ha abituati a questo, google sempre a portata di mano).
Le interviste sono stupende, alcune semplicemente geniali, mentre tra i racconti si spazia da perle come Per sempre lassù e La persona depressa ad altri in cui davvero non c'ho capito niente come Chiesa fatta senza le mani e Tri-Stan (questo forse l'ho anche capito, ma è stata davvero dura leggerlo...).
C'è da dire pure che, nonostante questi non li abbia compresi, li ho letti comunque con rapimento.

Disse che la depressione risultava così centrale e inevitabile per la sua identità e per la persona che era che il non essere capace di esternare la sensazione interiore della depressione e nemmeno di descrivere davvero la sensazione che le dava, per lei era per esempio come sentire un bisogno disperato, feroce di descrivere il sole nel cielo e avere la capacità o il permesso solo di indicare a mó di descrizione le ombre sul terreno.

Dico solo che diventiamo così stereotipati e condiscendenti sui diritti e l'assoluta correttezza e la protezione delle persone che non ci fermiamo a ricordare che nessuno è soltanto vittima e niente soltanto negativo e soltanto scorretto... quasi niente lo è.

Durante l'intera conversazione aveva un'espressione divertita che rendeva difficile non ricambiare il sorriso, e il bisogno involontario di sorridere è una delle più belle sensazioni a nostra disposizione, no?
Profile Image for SCARABOOKS.
285 reviews214 followers
September 16, 2019
Rilettura dopo nove anni. Stessa meraviglia e nuove sfumature di senso.
Prendete l’ultimo dei cinque racconti che hanno lo stesso titolo e danno il titolo alla raccolta. E' una delle cose più audaci concettualmente e lancinanti che si possano leggere; e per una lettrice sarà senz'altro meglio/peggio. E' formidabile nella tensione narrativa, nello scavo psicologico, nella energia emotiva che lo anima. In misura diversa questo vale per tutti i testi della raccolta. Inclassificabili, di genio assoluto. Un campionario di situazioni esemplari "della porositá di certi confini" tra il commendevole ed il riprovevole, tra cause/intenzioni e risultati/effetti, tra il vissuto e il consapevole, tra la più compassionevole empatia e la più impietosa crudeltà.

Ma soprattutto dietro c'è una idea molto precisa della funzione della letteratura.

Chi vuol approfondire qui trova qualcosa
Profile Image for Alessio.
57 reviews22 followers
February 5, 2017
Ritenuta dall'autore stesso la sua opera più inquietante, Brevi interviste con uomini schifosi è lo squallido e atroce catalogo di una società malata e cinica, composta da uomini falliti e disperati, all'interno della quale «stupro e masturbazione si beffano dell'amore romantico, e gli affetti di famiglia sono messi a confronto coi danni che recano» (Fernanda Pivano).
David Foster Wallace tesse abilmente le fila dei venti racconti della raccolta, mescolando numerosi registri stilistici e sfiancando il lettore con un vortice di informazioni e interminabili dettagli sotto forma di note a pié di pagina. La lettura è complessa e stratificata ma, una volta portata a conclusione, non potrà che rivelare tutta la genialità, linguistica e creativa, di colui che una volta venne definito il «cupo principe della narrativa americana contemporanea».
Profile Image for Gauss74.
439 reviews81 followers
July 23, 2018
Che DFW sia un genio assoluto lo hanno già detto in tanti, e dopo aver letto il mio primo e unico suo libro non posso che banalmente confermare. Solo che appunto resterà l'unico: per colpa mia. Non mi piace dover leggere, rileggere, lambiccarmi e dubitare di averci capito qualcosa. John steinbeck ma anche Philip Roth ma anche mille altri insegnano che si può dire tutto semplicemente secgliendo bene una singola parola, e quindi la semplicità non è una giustificazione.

Detto questo, "brevi interviste con uomini schifosi" è un grandissimo libro, che dimostra quanto profondamente l'autore abbia conosciuto l'animo umano, al punto da poter quasi ridurre la malvagità ad un esercizio di stile; così come sembra un esercizio di stile la struttura aggressiva della mono intervista. Non è la prima volta che incontro questa arditissima ellissi: qualche anno fa ho letto "Il signor Mani" di Abraham Yehoshua (libro che consiglio a chiunque) che utilizzava lo stesso espediente,e con ben altra potenza! In questo caso mi è sembrata solo l'ennesima inutile complicazione.

Tanti anime mefitiche una a fianco all'altra che nelanche una bolgia dantesca, che tuttavia qualcosa in comune mi sembra che l'abbiano. Un egocentrismo esasperato che rasenta il solipsismo, la voglia di parlare sempre e comunque di se stessi anche quando sarebbe parecchio opportuno accorgersi dell'altro. La brutta abitudine del autocompatimento ed il vizio di piangersi addosso, quel sentirsi sempre vittime e mai causa delle proprie disgrazie. La voglia assoluta di impossessarsi del pensiero dell'altro cercando di anticipare in modo truffaldino un eventuale giudizio negativo per piegarlo alle nostre necessità.

Se ci si pensa, non stiamo parlando del male ma del meschino tentativo di sentirsi buoni convivendo con esso. Non è il male in sè a rendere un uomo "schifoso", ma i patetici trucchetti (che cosa sarebbero se non questo il solipsismo, il vittimismo, il pregiudizio?) che mettiamo in campo per compiacerci del nostro male ed allo stesso tempo sentirsi buoni.

Prosa faticosa ed involuta, fortunatamente per questa volta a servizio di un libro assai breve. Una prosa che esce comunque dalla penna di un genio assoluto, fuori discussione.
Profile Image for LW.
349 reviews59 followers
February 6, 2020
- Ok, cercherò di spiegarmi :Maschi satirosauri sibaritici eterosapiens - uomini schifosi by DFW

Spregevoli, disfunzionali, egoisti, subdoli, allucinati, fuori di testa, meschini, intimamente odiosi ,terribilmente manipolatori
Che merde!
Ma che scrittura!
Una scrittura ostica, complessa, visionaria, a tratti selvaggiamente ironica , a tratti meandrica ...che ti costringe a non mollare ,a procedere intervista dopo intervista , nonostante la fronte imperlata di sudore , la fatica improba di certi passaggi, la ripugnanza e gli strabuzzamenti, per arrivare ad una grande soddisfazione ,alla fine .
Un DFW micidiale!

- Lo so, è difficile da spiegare , bisogna leggerlo per
- E invece sì. E invece sì.

Una storia ridotta all'osso della vita postindustriale

Quando vennero presentati, lui fece una battuta, sperando di piacere. Lei rise a crepapelle, sperando di piacere. Poi se ne tornarono a casa in macchina, ognuno per conto suo, lo sguardo fisso davanti a sé, la stessa identica smorfia sul viso.A quello che li aveva presentati nessuno dei due piaceva troppo, anche se faceva finta di sí, visto che ci teneva tanto a mantenere sempre buoni rapporti con tutti.Sai, non si sa mai, in fondo, o invece sì, o invece sì.
Profile Image for Amirsaman.
428 reviews224 followers
November 11, 2022
یک سوم حجم کتاب به یادداشت‌هایی درباره‌ی والاس و آثارش اختصاص دارد. این‌جا است که متوجه می‌شویم کل حجم چیزهای در مورد والاس، صرفا انبوهی است از اطلاعات خالزنکی و قدیس‌ساز. مثل این است که صدها صفحه سیاه شود تا به شما بگوید چیزی مهم است و خیلی مهم است، بدون این که آن چیز مهم به شما نشان داده شود. داستان‌های والاس به خودی خود خوب‌اند، اما ژورنالیسیمی که دور والاس ایجاد شده به غایت سطحی است. یادداشت‌های آخر کتاب آن‌قدر بی‌مایه هستند که در بهترین حالت، والاس را یک تقلیدکار امریکایی رمان پست‌مدرنیستی معرفی می‌کنند، بدون این که به عمق جمله‌های نویسنده نفوذ کنند. به همین دلیل هم، این نقدها ترجیح می‌دهند از نسبت زندگی والاس و زندگی مردان کریه و چیزهایی از این قبیل حرف بزنند؛ سفیدپوستانِ طبقه‌متوسطیِ خودشیفته‌ای که دغدغه‌ی والاس را فرومی‌کاهند به نقد تلویزیون و مصرف‌گرایی.
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