Net having no idea what purpose it serves other than suiting mine admirably now On its horizontal upper two inverted plastic covers like outsize Alice teacups with conveniently located handles are screwed into rubber lined grooves Grasping one and twisting hearing a sudden pop as something housed within is snapped Marty Turning back to the car He is snoring and the cup is tossed onto his lap before concentrating on the remaining piece of the prize Resistance until with a sharp crack it is bisectedFeeling terribly confused because bright orange has dimmed to two pieces of colourless plastic Fuggryinoutfugginloud What the fuck Guy opening the front passenger door and waving furiously Was that you Didja us kill the street lights Dunno The unexpected darkness descending sending arms and legs scrambling back into the car clutching the broken halves adrenaline rush filling A first act of vandalism in the name of the underdog has produced spectacular results Dja reckon so Let s drive round n see ow many lights ya buggered The car is hopping kangaroo for a few metres until conceding defeat and gliding forwards smoothly accompanied by the occasional protest in the form of a back fire Swinging left at the football field into a street shrouded in darkness until reaching the next A coerência textual junction where light falls on footpath shrubs and parked cars a couple leaning against a four wheel drive and imitating ravenous pythons and we have spun around in a creaking circle and are heading back the way we have come crossing the main drive into the short length of road that is cul de sacced at the river bank Zigging zag across the main arterial street all the way to its end where itoins the road that leads to the city a distance of about two kilometres until we have ascertained the length and breadth of the street light blackout Holy fuck Guy punching my shoulder grinning Whadja do that for Dunno We never do anything Just seemed like a cool idea And look The plastic Mad Hatter teacup from Martin s lap fits the head perfectly We ve gotta mascot for Mover Shelley has driven us back to the house shared with a student couple he an engineer she studying arts and Mover is parked on the street Martin left within to sleep off the alcohol For the remainder of the night we will be playing cards and trying to sober up on cask wine until not long before sunrise when we will have stupor succumbed on bean bags and dank carpetThe following week the Student Union will have announced the decision that the annual Toga Party is no longer to be held on campus owing to violent behaviour claims of sexual harassment and the death of a student found lying face down in a puddle of rainwater along one of the side streets that dead ended above the river The time of her death had occurred during the blackout of street lights that the area had been suffering in the early hours of the morning She had apparently tripped smashed her skull on a low brick wall and fallen presumably unconscious into the waterThe orange plastic cover is still a possessed object The narrator plans to be buried wearing it The following came up in the comment thread of my review of Oblivion StoriesThe I think about it the I would recommend that people new to DFW start with his first short stories collection Girl with Curious Hair His first two books the novelhis college thesis paper The Broom of the System and the recently aforementioned short stories collection probably have a lower net level of run on sentences and a accessible style on the wholeStarting with Infinite Jest as I did probably helped make me view the rest of his corpus through Infinite Jest tinted glasses which was obviously a good thing for me since I loved it so much But for those who are apprehensive about beginning this way or beginning with Wallace at all for that matter I say pick up Girl with Curious Hair Although the final and mind blowingly brilliant story is the rather lengthy Westward The Course of Empire Takes Its Way which would typically be considered not to be stylistically accessible at all really It s both a barbed criticism of and heartfelt tribute to metafiction a hilarious uasi autobiographical look into his writing workshop days in graduate school and much much And at its heart as with all of his work is a sincere and emotionally resonant portrait of what it means to be a homosapien in the 20th21st century and beyond Great stuff BEGINNING OF AN AFFAIRI saw him many times around here since I Write Your Novel!: Tips from a Bestseller joined the GR Club Sometimes having tete a tete with one of my friends and sometimes being the cynosure of some group discussions I thought of approaching him on many occasions but I didn t want to come up as somewhat forward and I wasn t even sure if he was my TYPES Then a new year party invite brought us face to face with each otherDavid Hi How you doinMe thinking about what should be an appropriate reply in correct EnglishOh Hell Hello I m doin goodHow are youDavid Well I m sentient today straight faceMe GapingDavid Ha Got yaMe embarrassing giggleDavid Anyways did you get my proposal Me As a matter of fact I did but I m still contemplating didn t want to reveal that I ve already acceptedDavid Contemplating WhyMe You see it s a long term commitment and there are many things I need to be sure about like compatibility and I don t even know anything about you yet and at the end I don t wanna make a fool of myselfDavid Woah you re one of those over thinkers I reckon Well we still have plenty of time to know each other You see that Girl with curious Hair over there go to her and talk May be she ll give you some overview about ummmy personality And for now have this sparkling WaterMe I looked back at that Girl while drinking that water but when I turned around he was goneWhoosh Starting of something magical was it THE DILEMMA OF STAR RATINGSMy first Wallace outing The reason of choosing this book Well I was intrigued by the title and read somewhere it s one of his most accessible works Accessible My Pretty Foot If you call a book of approx 400 pages that made me read 200 other pagesust to know what the hell the stories are all about then I guess I need to raise MY standards and re define the word Accessible but no regrets I Dogs Behaving Badly just wanted to share my bittersweet ordealIt won t be fair on my part to give stars to this book on a whole There are 10 different stories written in distinct styles some of which went well with me and some not so well So I ll give stars to each of them separately Though I m not sure whether I ualify toudge these stories based upon its content as many themes were alien to me so the star ratings are largely based upon David s writing and of course my humble comprehensionincomprehension of themLittle Expressionless animals 5 StarsMy Favorite *Of The Lot A Uirky *the lot a uirky on TV Game shows on the surface or Media industry in general the very 1st thought that struck me was Confession of a Dangerous Mind and I was than happy to be familiar with a common factor between the story and the movie ie The Game Show and its various facets But here the main story lies behind the scenes and in flashbacks about people associated in creating the show and their dealing with each other emotional turmoil From the very first page the First Year Teacher: Wit and Wisdom from Teachers Who've Been There job of a reader begins of putting the narrative in a proper seuence or simply establishing connections in order to understand what is going on As stated in a blog David shows it to be the outcome of a complex network of interpersonal relations and emotions Indeed it is Written in an incisive and damning parody of minimalist style of 1980s with an air of cold objectivity a poignant view which implies that the flashy life of entertainment industry can be uite dismal or simply complicated when the cameras are off Luckily the Account Representative Knew CPR 4 StarsA title uite revelatory of the story it s an excellent example of conveying something significant in few words It suggests as to how two unlikely people can meet in the most unlikely circumstances and share an experience that might bind them together for the rest of their livesGirl with curious hair 4 StarsThis story was a 2 or 3 stars for me until I reached its end A young Republican met A group of crazy Punks and attended a party together The content baffled me not because it has generous use of drugs fellatio incest or a sociopathic instances I m lying they did baffle me but it was its ambiguous ending or rather the incompleteness of the story that made it interesting for me It s something like a Rorschach test for readerstell me what you see Tell me what you thinkLyndon 3 StarsThis particular story was too American for me so myudgment is purely based upon whatever little I could understand of the story Some insightful discussion with a GR friend gave me a better perspective about the possible implications of this piece Though not very enjoyable for me because of its Political content I liked the treatment given to the characters and how subtly the relationship of two main characters unfolded during the whole process I especially liked its ending again containing many lines to be read in betweenJohn Billy 2 Star At this
I m a little about the separate star rating but what the hell I didn t get this story at all The humor is of little consolation Few things I understood concerns the language used by Wallace here It s somehow consists of generous use of a particular vernacular evident mainly in the use of bad grammar The possible inspiration is McCarthy and Faulkner in this kind of writing From a blog In an interview somewhere Wallace said he didn t know how McCarthy gets away with it and that s the part of McCarthy s project that Wallace focuses on here how to make the anachronistical and anarchic mythical biblical dirt poor ungrammatical spoken language workHere and There 35 StarsA difficult story hard to comprehend but can be understood once you get the gist of the basic theme and who all are involved in dialogues with each other It s mainly about human relations and nature of peculiar emotions one could carry and how hard it can become for a person to be Revenge of the Land: A Century of Greed, Tragedy, and Murder on a Saskatchewan Farm just Normal It can be difficult to identify with the narrator because it gets awkward at times and one could feel the urge to shout at him get over it Dude but that could possibly be the main message of this story that some of the simple things in life are the hardest to achieve My Appearance 5 starsThis is again one of my favorites and again with the backdrop of the entertainmentmedia industry this time with a Talk show Though it s a known fact that an actor on screen is an actor for lifetime in the public eye still there are instances which can make them uestion about their Appearance the relations in their lives and fidelity of loneliness that seems to be their constant companion and Wallace has captured those emotions beautifully in this piece Say Never 1 StarThings happen People make mistakes don t vouch for anythingNever Say Never That s it I didn t get much out of this story my least favoriteEverything is Green 4 StarsA two page story and we witness a different Wallace here Revealing about it would mean mentioning spoilers so I m refraining from that It s not a very likeable piece on the surface again because of its minimalistic approach but can be interpreted in various ways taking cues from other sourcesWestward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way 45 StarsThe final story novella longest of all and this one alone took me around 15 days to dissect and study it It s basically David Foster Wallace Lost in the funhouse having Happy Meals UmmNo At this point the reviewer thought of pulling off a John Barth but soon realized her incapability to do soI had a hard time to understand as to whether it s a homage or a parody or a corrective or a self conscious act of Patricide to John Barth s Lost in the funhouse but nevertheless I enjoyed it A preface to his celebrated Infinite Jest it was defined as an engaging piece of Pretentious Juvenilia and I couldn t agree I mean how much a brain in its mid 20s could possibly store but Wallace seemed to be well aware of his intelligence and knew how to use it I felt both intimidated and fascinated by his writing in this particular piece The idea influenced from Barth here is to perpetually interrupting the story to explain techniues a writer generally employs in his narratives Those interruptions are the high points of this story for me They presented a critiue view of Wallace s own writing as evident in the following text to write something that stabs you in the heart That pierces you makes you think you re going to die Maybe it s called metalife Or metafiction Or realism Or gfhrytytuIt has some hilarious moments witty statements and words like diphthongulated Again it s not an easy read and reuired the most effort of all to get through it but it s worth the ride to have a glimpse of a Beautiful Mind of David Foster WallaceA HAPPY ENDINGEvery relationship needs some work and I m than happy with my first intro into the world of DFW Am I sounding corny Kindly bear with me coz may be I m in love ACNOWLEDGEMENTS1 I would like to thank Sven for his support and answering my endless ueries in great detail and also establishing the fact that I m not that stupid as much I felt after reading this book by stating the following YEAH My mind burst at that point Yeah I totally didn t expect that ending or uite understand it either Yeah I really have no idea what was going on in that one So thanks 2 Various blogs available on net3 And some clear and great analysis given in Understanding David Foster Wallac. Nal punk nihilism meets Young Republicanism Wallace renders the incredible comprehensible the bizarre normal the absurd hilarious the familiar stran. And have very white skin The woman carries a grocery bag full of something heavy Her face hangs loose over the bag She brings the bag and the white children to a wooden fencepost by the field by the highway The children s hands which are small are placed on the wooden post The woman tells the children to touch the post until the car returns She gets in the car and the car leaves There is a cow in the field near the fence The children touch the post The wind blows Lots of cars go by They stay that way all day A haunting story as life partners Faye Goddard and Julie Smith struggle with one e identity the pursuitimportance of knowledge growing up in less than pleasant circumstances and addiction Wallace seems to be saying a lot about knowledge Particularly in light of his straight A student status throughout high schoolI received 500000 discrete bits of information today he once said of which maybe 25 are important Myob is to make some sense of it 5 stars Luckily The Account Representative Knew CPR I thought I had a pretty clear sense of his style Alas I was pleasantly mistaken as evidenced below Each received to the varying degrees their respective pains allowed an intuition of the askew as in the neatly stacked slices of lit space between the executive and the distant lament of a custodian s vacuum the Building s very silence took on expression they sensed almost spinally the slow release of great breath a spatial sigh a slightly sly movement of huge lids cracked in wakened affinity with the emptiness that was after all the reasonable executive realizes half the Building s total day The prose is unnecessarily verbose it s practically painful to read in fact but at the same time it s genius in its beauty and scope It s also uite succinct The parallels drawn here and in Little Expressionless Animals fascinates me But I digress There are elements here that are vague while at others sometimes simultaneously incredibly lucid Clever imaginative thought provoking and creative To put it simply it s everything that the former isn t 425 stars Girl With Curious Hair I d heard about the humor that s often staple of DFW s work but in every sense of the word I truly couldn t have prepared myself for his unparalleled sense of humor which borders on hilarious and absurd Beneath the comic relief however are glimpses of mind numbing horror and violence The subject matter is frankly disturbing sadistic and ultimately entertaining Which brings me to my next point said violence and escalating nihilism of the world was obviously a concern of Wallace s when he wrote this and I think it s relevant than ever before In many ways the title story reminds me of the 1990 s cult classic Natural Born Killers Ahh the addictiveness of violence There is much to this rare gem that I simply won t go into its execution phenomenal that I can give it nothing less than 5 stars Lyndon Right and wrong ain t wordsThey re feelings In your guts and intestines and such Not words Not songs with guitars They re what make you feel like you do They re inside you Your heart and digestion Like the folks you personally love This is a complex story about sacrifice the meaning of right and wrong it s all relative isn t it politics and the Vietnam War Wallace also explores heterohomosexuality and it s done in such a way as to be completely unbiased There s a certain dignity to both lifestyles which suggests an euality there Like Little Expressionless Animals I m taken aback by its beauty And this is coming from someone that doesn t really believe in homosexuality mind you I think that highly of these stories 4 stars John Billy I love a good vengeful tale and this offering speaks volumes There s a sense of anticipation as it unravels strongly contrasted with DFW s trademark humor vivid descriptions and surreal energy The prose is very dense and verbose resulting in several dictionary consults and having to go back and re read some passages Another element I particularly enjoyed and found interesting was the satire like use of cliche s and generalizations of rural Oklahoma Ordinarily I d frown upon such techniues cliche s being one of my absolute biggest pet peeves but seen here not to mention the title story which is much extensive and over the top I couldn t help but love and appreciate what he achieved It s absurd really Was any of it real Or are we ust dreams within a dream What really happened that fateful day between T Rex and C Nunn Jr It s all open to interpretation 4 stars Here And ThereSo far this is the most challenging of the collection While the subject matter is uite mundane the techniues used are not For one the prose isn t linear Secondly the dialogue is never identified Not only that thepoint i m
Entire 20 Pages Consists Of20 pages consists of dialogue But once I get a feel for the trio it was pretty easy to follow and identify them reminiscent of stream of consciousness Wallace delves much deeper than that though The setting reads as two very bitter dysfunctional individuals in the midst of couple s counseling The third character being of course the professional mediator making said dialogue difficult to discern Wallace pays homage to Kurt Godel the story s dedicated to him in fact He also explores themes such as lexicons particularly the theorized death of poetry and the imperfection of humanity 4 stars My Appearance In every facet of our lives are we all genuine all of the time Do circumstances dictate our level of sincerity v disingenious Or does this only apply to celebrities such as David Letterman Is he a righteous phony merely striving for increasingly high Nielsen ratings Or does the age old adage apply What you seen is what you get Further do you honestly believe that no one is really the way they have to be seen And if we as a society truly feel the need to be fraudulent what makes us feel this way Our peers the media insecurities 35 stars Say NeverWe get claws the shape of our face is the shape of our skull our lips retreat back from big teeth like we re baring to snarl Sharp snarling old who should wonder at how nobody cares if I hurt except another snarler Wow I don t even know what to say There s a tenderness that I hadn t experienced from DFW before not to this extent at least let alone suspected I simply love the close friendship between Mrs Tagus and Mr Labov It s a closeness that feels palpable akin to a beloved elderly couple you ve known for years though they are ust really close friends They ve known one another for may decades In fact they view spoilercomforted one another when their spouses died hide spoiler After finishing David Foster Wallace s Girl With Curious Hair I had to step back awhile before reviewing in fear I would simply come across as an overzealous cheerleader yelling Give me a DGive me a FGive me a W Like a teenage romance I was so blinded by my love for this collection and author that I wasn t sure exactly what it was I loved so much and if this brightly burning passion was distracting me from the flaws and faults that I wouldn t realize were there until much later After giving some time to reflect my overzealousness has hardly died down and thro Guy With Furious Hair or The Toga Party Little of this life has been spent considering deathPaternal grandparents never known died as words on the page of a letter received long after the event maternal grandparents took their leave in hospital Grandfather of emphysema when his grandchild was barely a teenager with no interest in a crabby and decaying invalid Grandmother years later of organ failure and senility surrounded by those of the family that were bothered to make the trek to her bedside Spurred on by a sense of belated filial obligation an unusually helpful secretary was reuested to arrange a flight but the demands of the then corporate schedule made no impact on Grandmother she failed to wait for her grandchild s appearance before giving up the ghostParents lingered long past their statistically valid expiry dates but refused to be a burden on their offspring electing instead to eke out their final moments together in a well appointed institution and passing each within days of the other into eternal slumberThus has death made a muted impression and only with its approach can the recollection of the one time it had attempted a vocal digression of sorts occurIt was the beginning of second year at University the night of the orientation week Toga Party a ritual event known for raucous and drunken brawling trawling and eventual pawing some of it culminating in goring some of it in scoring almost all of it in snoring Linen when not rubber sheathed throngs stumbling sometimes linked in song sometimes linked by beverage through the shadowed spaces between the silhouettes of the Great Hall and the uadrangle the Arts building and the Natural History block Human Movements and Agricultural Sciences Floodlights bathing the oval and stadium with a savage intensity rendering the outlines of the drinking tents crisp and coloured revealing all the subterfuge and sabotage in which teams whose origins are a mystery of the University s history each with their own coterie of cacophonous condoners compete in the chariot relay races being held at midnight The losing team dumped in the river surrounding the peninsula on which the campus
sited the drenched in cheap champagne and beer and hoisted on shoulders to be paraded around the stadium carrying the Horse of Triumph a grotesue euine effigy stabled in the bowels of the Student Union offices during the year and led out for the dubious honour of this annual spectacleVia the lack of virtue beueathed by impoverished school grades a place in an Economics degree the poor relation to Business Information Systems and Accounting has been secured as well as one within an eually uninspiring uartet of students whose idea of radical consists of breaking with the time honoured tradition of smoking marijuana behind the Rowing Club on Friday afternoons and instead lighting up on a Thursday thereby earning the ire of the Rowing Club coach and a promise to haul us before our Dean Arrest for smoking on University grounds unless by Federal Police is impossible but deprivation of degrees is not Amidst profuse apology and crimson cheeked embarrassment we will slink away from the knowing stares of the team whose abundance of muscles mock us for the absence of ours The sport of sculling will eventually be acuired and uit when told that bull sharks inhabit the river since time is spent as much struggling back onto the craft as sitting on it and propelling it forwardsFriday nights are spent on two dollar drinks moaning the missed opportunities of making it with someone anyone although no one spends attention on us in such uantities as to suggest the existence of opportunity missed or otherwise and Saturday nights most often involve sneaking into parties gate crashing for the uninitiated or watching Hey Hey It s Saturday and rented movies or playing Trivial Pursuit while drinking whichever brand of beer is discounted on any given weekend Sundays being enlivened only by fashionable threats to commit suicide because an assignment has missed its due by deadlineSuch was the being of an Economics studentBut away with this digression To return to the night of the Toga Party we are imbibing and ingesting and embellishing and effecting no change in our *status uos wandering the ever less crowded campus grounds for some time after the finish of the *uos wandering the ever less crowded campus grounds for some time after the finish of the races until stumbling on the realisation that excitement in whatever form it might occur must be manufactured by us Shelley owner of a five wheeled collection of moving parts one wheel uite often functioning as the means to navigate and which we have christened predictably Mover since its number plate initials are MVR is legally over the blood alcohol limit but less so than Martin Guy or the narrator and has suggested we hit the nightclubs in town since at this hour we are able to negotiate the cover charge down to the purchasing power of paupers After much time and group think we have puzzled out where Mover is parked by the ferry pier at the far end of the University grounds and weaved our way there Guy wants to urinate on each of the acaranda trees passing us bye claiming these are the only territory he ever has the chance to markWe have progressed as far as the top of the main University drive where a huge round about signifies the entrance to the University proper when the daring compulsion to protest our down trodden status both as students and sex symbols rears its seductive head Stop the car Shell Eh Slowing at the round about and frowning Whaffor Jus drive the car over t the metal box there Shell suinting in the direction indicated and starting to move off along the opposite and perfectly legitimate route Shell us cut through G over there Pointing along the two lanes of non existent oncoming traffic Look there s no one round No one s gonna see us Park the car at the box Scanning each of the spiral arms of the round about No headlights wobbling between parked cars no toga swaddled singles or couples staggering towards us The only constant in the scene not being the street lamp on the corner fluorescing spasmodically Shell stalling the car before swerving across the lanes and bumping the gutter beside the box Supa Gimme a minute Half fall stepping from the car to contemplate the box less than the length of the car head height and the width of an extended arm All the times having passed it never noticing the suat rectangle of metal sheeting resembling an abandoned filing cabi. Aphic evocations of historical figures like Lyndon Johnson and overtelevised game show hosts and late night comedians to the title story where termi. Difficult brilliant Mindful Living with Aspergers Syndrome jarring funny ironically earnest and earnestly ironic with the limpidity of apostasy and the remote functionality of an egg white toaster Iust wanted to grab myself by the front of my shirt and pull myself into this dizzyingly dexterous series of fictional contortions wending through the labyrinth of self aware polymathic intelligence and meta situations to find the author standing apart from creations that the reader assists in imbuing with life with the melancholy pose of a parent whose children have fled the nest in order to stride up to him hold his shaggy sweaty head with both hands and implant a fond kiss upon his forehead whilst murmuring with the utmost sincerity Thanks for these buddy This collection encompasses only ten texts but as usual DFW serves us A LOT of content Mostly he dissects society by finding narrative chiffres for media and pop culture and it s intense and wild and fascinating but unfortunately he also displays his most annoying tendencies by overwriting some material in the most show offy way imaginable Still when this guy is going strong he is simply mind blowing so I ust cut him some slack by giving him 4 stars Two of the stories deal with a lifelong obsession of DFW Television Little Expressionless Animals introduces us to a traumatized woman who experiences an unusual winning streak on Jeopardy thus getting caught in the wheels of commercial television In My Appearance a TV actress appears as a guest on David Letterman and disturbs the host and her husband by breaking conventions when she tells her truthThe title giving story Girl With Curious Hair about a sociopathic Republican lawyer and the punk crowd he hangs out with has often been seen as a parody of Less Than Zero but thinking about DFW s role in the New Sincerity movement it read like a piece of social criticism for me showing the author s disgust for any form of nihilism and hedonism In Lyndon we meet a fictional aide and confidant of Lyndon B Johnson The escalating Vietnam War the decline of Johnson s health and the homosexual protagonist s suffering from AIDS converge in an unsettling narrative maelstrom Here and There as well as Say Never play with shifting perspectives when a couple talks about their relationship and a man causes an uproar in his family because of his adultery Luckily the Account Representative Knew CPR John Billy and Everything Is Green are and it pains me to say it crossing the line to being pretentious They play with narrative conventions to a degree that the story itself becomes almost irrelevant the main message seems to be hey I m smart but we the readers already knew that so there s not much to see here The last text in the book is the novella Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way and in order to really understand what is going on in the writing workshop this text revolves around you need to be familiar with Lost in the Funhouse Frankly I had to check Intertextuality in David Foster Wallace s Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way and John Barth s Lost in the Funhouse in order to realize that this text negotiates the relationship between postmodern and maximalist writing among other things So I m sure this is a great puzzle for the initiated but alas I haven t read Lost in The Funhouse so I lose All in all this is a fun collection with a lot to discover and in a way it is also an interesting study of DFW the man who was only 27 when this book was published My main response to reading Wallace is that I m not clever enough to read Wallace I go through long periods in his fiction not knowing what the hell is happening and what the narrator is narrating My second response is that Wallace wrote fiction with a universal appeal inscrutable at times but with a heart and a mind built by NASA Despite this despite his intention to strike a basic human chord his fiction is largely the domain of the hyper literate or folks like me straining to be hyper literate Wallace s intellect both attracts and repels potential readers for both good and bad reasonsThis collection is largely free from such anxieties however Stories like Little Expressionless Animals and My Appearance explore Wallace s contempt for TV over higher art forms Lyndon and Girl With Curious Hair are hilarious satires on American success and wealth and Luckily the Account Representative Knew CPR and Everything is Green are shorter examples of the infinite interpretability of his workThese selections demonstrate his flair for aggressive comedy intensely felt language experimental forms and Pynchonesue wordplay Sadly there are stories that demonstrate the less appealing facet of his work namely the almost pathological indulgence Wallace arrived on the scene when postmoderism was in its death throes yet became a compulsive reader of these texts Pynchon Barth et al His work to me does partly belong to a postmodern tradition filtered through a ironic lens one knowingly beyond such a pass form though still besotted Like how I feel about Michelle Obama I know she is a useless presence in my life though I still crave her uxorious attentions in the oval office despite loving my current spouse Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way is something I should have loved I respect metafiction and have a higher tolerance for its exhaustion than most But this was sheer exhaustive indulgence some incomprehensible homage to John Barth with cringe inducing self comment and showboating grandilouence than four Joyces It reads like the kind of fiction Wallace himself would later lampoon the dry academic work from campus writers albeit stamped with wit ideas and general impressiveness Metafiction about metafiction is really a niche genre John Billy Here and There and Say Never were inscrutable to me but this was only my first reading If there s one thing Wallace demands it s than one reading David Foster Wallace turns the short story upside down and inside out making the adjectives inventive uniue and original seem blas TC BoyleTC Boyle turns the buddy blurb into an art form making the adjectives hyperbolic obseuious and pompous ass seem pass Further dude looks like a tip dipped in iodine Arthur Graham I don t know what happened but I m pretty sure I was supposed to like this way than I didWhile there were definitely some solid stories here and there were enough gems of description and dialogue to keep me *reading on for large swaths of this book were decidedly underwhelming in my humble estimation It wasn t the author s *on for large swaths of this book were decidedly underwhelming in my humble estimation It wasn t the author s narrative his deliberate obfuscation or his penchant for erudition that would be the pot calling the kettle black in this case Maybe I m ust of a Pynchon man I ve seen the two compared before but I found this to be fairly dry humorless and not at all sexy by contrast From what I ve read of Infinite Jest it s clear to see that Wallace got better with age and here we find the seeds of that burgeoning brilliance sown amidst a great big pile of shitMaybe it was the title that turned me off I swear to god if one of you fuckers decides to title a book The Girl With Fill in the Blank The Fill in the Blank Thief or What We Talk About When We Talk About Fill in the Blank I m gonna punch a fetal panda bear in the snout I am a DFW completist Recently I have been suffering an anxiety that I had in fact not completed his first book of short stories Girl with Curious Hair It was time to reread it and banish those anxieties In fact best of my memory I had cut out several years back mid stride of Lyndon Never mind why Who would want to ask I had with clear evidence of memory read the entirety of Westward under a tree in my backyard upon a blanket mom made Raggedy Ann and Andy pattern which had once belonged to my younger sister and we usually recently used for packing material from childhood on a day of one hundred three degrees no humidity But between half a Lyndon and all of Westward What had I missed Some of it but not all of itUsing the Zehn Sternen Review System ZSRS for Kurtz it s metric so as to allow decimal points I ll dink off the little stories in this book But be cautioned that despite the critical and analytic reputation I like to cultivate for myself here on goodreads I m theoretically a full on blank when it comes to short stories I get that they ve got to be tight and somehow unified and all that stuff you learned in your short story writing classes in high school and college but I mean that stuff all went out the window didn t it when Borges and Barthelme decided that they could write short stories without stories Never mind Just mind that I ve no critical apparatus except for the chip on my shoulder that so godsdamn many reviewers on goodreads wish that their novels would have been written in the short story form could have used an editor to excise three hundred AND 61 pages of unnecessary divergent digressive long winded self indulgence that kind of thing But so anyways right here goes 55 Little Expressionless Animals How many imaginary and facetious answers do we need to have to the uestion Why did I become a lesbian I won t confess to being ever as endeared to game show hosts as Dave would suggest I must have been 01 Luckily the Account Representative Knew CPR Fear of solipsism Even if the solipsism is only raised to the encounter of two in a barren concrete parking garage that s than an isolated singularity isn t it 89 Girl With Curious Hair Loved it What a great voice Lyndon The second story with homosexual characters But what are those words supposed to mean those words about suffering placed in Lyndon s mouth Not good Possibly disingenuous John Billy The thing that I most regret apparently having passed over years back when first partially reading this collection Exploding fields of sheep Yep John Billy is an epic hero 09 Here and There A nice bit of couples therapy Well transcribed 47 My Appearance An early attempt on Dave s part to address his anxiety about the debilitating effects of irony and his proposed solution as to how to address oneself to an overburdening and possibly destructive ironic encounter Say Never Infidelity But can we be done already with this line about over rationalizing and hiding behind intellectualism as a mode of avoiding emotional vulnerability Dave knows how tois sited the
"preach and sometimes preaches things one would like to preach and does preach but heavy handed at times isn "and sometimes preaches things one would like to preach and does preach but heavy handed at times isn it 24689 Everything is Green What Is this a prose poem Is the density in the story or in my head Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way The novella that makes the book and a piece which carries us from Broom to IJ What it is It is Dave s early capitulation to the fact of the self reflective nature of noveling what he attempts and fails to exteriorize as metafiction It is Dave s carrying out of the strategy announced earlier in My Appearance We all know the story of Westward being written in the margins of Barth s Lost in the Funhouse reuired reading for DFW ites but what is the thing about written in the margins of Cynthia Ozick s Usurpation Other People s Stories p 294 of Westward contains the first seven lines of Usurpation from Cynthia Ozick s Bloodshed and Three Novellas from the copyright page Anyone got a line on that oneAll in All A nice collection which on its own should be a huge credit to a young talent It should forever properly live in the shadow of Infinite Jest but not every book can be a novel of the centuryAs to the Incompletion status of my Completionism I ve got the following outstanding Richard Taylor s Appendix piece in Fate Time and Language which is not technically a Completion Failure Signifying Rappers which is finally being offered again on the market next year some time The conversations with and interviews etc volumes which were not written by Dave but which contain his words and which I ve likely read somewhen most of The various critical volumes which have been appearing in recent years Likely most of that stuff over on the Howling Fantods site under the rubric Uncollected DFW And that extra material added to the paperback of The Pale King Perhaps I m ust boycotting the shameless behavior of the publisher Something elseNeophytes please read Infinite Jest first Everything else makes sense and has its worthwhile because of IJ Veterans of DFW should gander at the parallels early DFW expresses with early William T Vollmann Namely each of their first novels and their first short story collections The audience of those four works should overlap to an astonishing degree What do you read having read Broom You Bright and Risen Angels contractually reuired statement of WTV endorsement accomplishedA piece by Jenn Shapland emerging DFW scholar her piece on Girl With Curious Hair particularly regarding WestwardGirl With Curious Hair is not exactly David Foster Wallace s best known or loved or remembered work but it is a monumental one These are ten stories or nine stories and one deadly novella in which serious literary and syntactic muscles are flexed And yet to me the stories are accessible even intimate Wallace is a moralist His stories bear witness to much than the verbal trapeze act he s known for Expressionless Little Animals It s 1976 The sky is low and full of clouds The gray clouds are bulbous and wrinkled and shiny The sky looks cerebral Under the sky is a field in the wind A pale highway runs beside the field Lots of cars go by One of the cars stops by the side of the highway Two small children are brought out of the car by a young woman with a loose face A man at the wheel of the car stares straight ahead The children are silent. Girl with Curious Hair is replete with David Foster Wallace's remarkable and unsettling reimaginations of reality From the eerily real almost hologr.
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David Foster Wallace