Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Brief Interviews with Hideous Men

Somehow David Foster Wallace's Brief Interviews with Hideous Men was recommended for my book club. I'd never read him before, and was actually little aware of his work. I think this book is surely a terrible introduction to his work, as everyone, including me, largely found it unbearable and nearly unreadable. I had to skip large portions of quite a few stories because I found them simply too depressing and repetitive.

Poor Wallace, now dead, writes about truly hideous men and I think he must have had the worst opinion of humankind anyone's ever had. He's worse than me! And that's bad. Someone at book club said he makes you see the worst side of yourself, and I think that's very true. I'm sorry for him that there will probably be no separating fiction from fact in his work. Even, I, well versed in the perils of associating biography and art, found myself assuming everything I read was an autobiography. Like Sylvia Plath and Van Gogh, that suicide will never go unmentioned.

When I first started reading the book - I kept making ridiculous proclamations like, This guy's a genius! This is the best thing I've ever read! Amazing! Simply Amazing! while my husband looked on, nonplused. Several of the stories in the beginning are really quite remarkable - especially the one about the boy on the diving board - and the interviews really are humorous (the one's that don't make you want to lock yourself in a closet) but largely I found the book to be the most self-indulgent literature I've ever read. And there's not a single person I would recommend it to.


godzhilaration said...

I read this book about five years ago, and was struck by the potential of the material. I thought that maybe in a few years when I understand what David was so worried about that these unreadable stories would make sense.
I hate to see people subtracting from his prescience due to his committing suicide.
I don't get it yet, but I realize he was a total structure nerd. His academic distinctions are the exposition of his heart.

Special K said...

I like your open-mindedness, godz. Thanks for reading!