, a neural plug we could get the entire pentasensory i.
, virtual reality illustrative support The dictionary definition traces the ancestral origins of date to earlier in the century i.
, our time when the term was used as a euphymym for genital interface between prostitutes and johns In the interim, we are led to gather from the virtual dictionary entry, the term hard date has developed for virtual reality assisted sex, with soft date being reserved for state approved procreative acts Never mind that aesthetically wise Nabokov said he detests typographical tricks of which this entire story, in a sense, is a great example John Fante wrote that failure is beautiful than success Nietzsche said power makes stupid David Foster Wallace is that triple delight a huge critical and commercial success who is young to boot But Datum Centurio is, like much of Wallace s work here, on the border of being too clever to be clever While he is possessed of Herculean artistic resources, he has come down or rather up with what might without pulling any punches be called Updikeitis 1 the lamentable tendency among wordsmiths of the highest order to have anything important to say Wallace enjoys technical virtuosity of the highest order Indeed, it is so high that, in the best of the anthology s stories, Death is Not the End and, especially, Forever Overhead, we forget that we are reading about a a pot bellied poet basking in his success by a swimming pool and b a self conscious thirteen year old boy virgin, again at a pool, braving a dive off the high board In this rather brilliant, latter story, there is a SN CK BAR and you the story is told in the second person on the ladder watch the older girls bottomsin soft thin cloth, tight nylon stretch The good bottoms move up the ladder like pendulums in liquid, a gentle uncrackable code The girls legs make you think of deer Look bored That is great writing, and it contrasts greatly with the irritating logorrhea of The Depressed Person an immersion experience into the run on sentence world and new age therapies of a depressed person and Octet presented as a postmodern Pop Quiz, replete with metastasizing Derridean footnotes and revealing self reflexive references to Johnny Carson s tendency to laugh at the badness of his own jokes Technical virtuosity does not alone a great story make, especially when it is spread ad infinitum over the stale wonder bread of a hopeless subject It is clear Wallace is concerned with the problem of writing honest prose in an age of capitalist appropriations, as well as with social alienation and the need to be liked and recognized an obvious primary motivating force of many writers, and perhaps all celebrities But again these are themes are relatively minor compared to Wallace s talent, and thus should be ditched, as well as his overindulgence of his tendency for mannerist prose Writers must live, too and, in this volume anyway, Foster Wallace s productions seem largely stillborn, the strange fruit of academic incubation, mutated into disturbing, if fascinating shapes, by intrauterine exposure to I m guessing methamphetamine sulfate Signifying Nothing like his novel Infinite Jest, another title derived from Shakespeare, who Wallace nonetheless says in an interview he likes only parts of is a story about a son who confronts his father in a truck with his memory of his father wagging his limp penis in his face, which the father denies Please The title story, which runs as a refrain interspersed in four sections throughout the book, is as annoyingly sexist as its ultimately trite subject matter what guys blather on about girls and is hampered by the saminess despite the author s attempts to capture vernacular variety of the too mannered, too cryptically intellectual male voices The effect is of viewing Brett Eaton Ellis s subject matter depraved L.
A humanity through a geographically wider, intellectual, and postmodern parodic lens Who cares Why hold a mirror up to nature, no matter how gilded and exquisite the mirror, if the reflection is of an unmitigated material One sic reads Bukowski because there is a great soul there, not because we get a nice impressionist description of how tanning lotion stings when used as a lubricant I do think Wallace is a great talent, and I look forward to his forthcoming work on Cantor and infinity, which seems like a worthy match for his interests and ability.
A brief history of my relationship with David Foster Wallace s oeuvre is necessary, before I discuss the book in question I devoured The Broom of the System, finding its characters, situations, and storytelling unique and enthralling Although I was upset by it s ending or lack thereof , I assumed it would be a good warm up for Infinite Jest Wrong So far, I ve made two passes at that behemoth tome The second time I even made it to page 200 before stopping in frustration So when approaching Brief Interviews, I was hoping for Broom than Jest Wrong In reading Brief Interviews with Hideous Men one notices the extent that Wallace fancies himself the ultimate postmodern author If you were to describe to me the style he uses here, I d have to say Wow, what a neat idea Challenge and frustrate the reader with unreadable prose, paragraphs that go on for pages and pages without a break, and endless footnotes that go on in infinite detail about the same mundane topic discussed in the body of the text Genius That s all well and good in theory, but it s a bitch to read In this book Wallace uses his vast vocabulary in such a way that you d think it would disappear if not exercised constantly He even goes so far as to make up new words to try out In one piece here he twice uses the word weeest , not because it is a precise adjective than wee as in hours of the morning but because its three consecutive E s make it look exotic It s style winning out over substance And those paragraphs They re endless Try holding your breath for five minutes, and you ll know what it s like wading through a DFW paragraph I asphyxiated on than one occasion Especially when those marathon paragraphs were made up of but a single sentence As for the footnotes, sometimes they added substance to the piece, but often than not they were merely distracting One piece in particular actually had text in the footnotes than in the main body I was flipping back and forth like a madman trying to figure out what I was supposed to read next.
But the biggest peeve I had was his insistence on leaving the reader hanging There are no payoffs here The pieces don t end they just stop Sometimes I thought they could have gone on interminably, but instead Wallace decided to quit at some random point After wading through twenty or so pages of philosophical ramblings and long winded discussions, a punchline would have helped make me look forward to the next piece As it is, I didn t.
I must say, though, that I wish I had Wallace s talent That s not to say that I would use it the same way he does but it would be nice to have it there when I needed it He seems to be constantly involved in a game of showing it off His style is self indulgent to the nth degree Let s see how cool I can be, he seems to be saying Let s see how far post modernism can stretch The odd thing is that Wallace is willing to admit to this fault in an interesting way Witness the first line in the last sub chapter of the piece titled Octet You are, unfortunately, a fiction writer He puts this ironic hindrance on the reader s shoulder But as the piece moves along, it becomes apparent that he s constructing a meta fictional rebuke of the sub chapters that appeared before this one He rips their intentions and their techniques to shreds Ad infinitum It s a great bit of self referential dare I say theatre the post modern writer attacking his own post modernism, in a hyper post modern way It s enough to make the reader s head spin Mine did.
There are a couple of other pieces here that really hooked me Tri Stan I Sold Sissee Nar to Ecko is Wallace at his most fun Using contemporary cultural objects as a new language, punning mercilessly e.
g a line describing University of Southern California cheerleaders as attendants at the Saturday temple of the padded gods Ra Sisboomba had me chuckling but good , and coining modern day epigrams such as The Medium would handle the Message s PR, he tells a convoluted tale about modern narcissism Although the joke runs out of steam halfway through, it s still quite a strong piece The opening piece, A Radically Condensed History of Post Industrial Life clearly shows Wallace can be a genius when he focuses his gifts And the title pieces, a quartet interspersed throughout the book, embodies all the problems I ve detailed above But they are still quite powerful in their depiction of modern man s ugliness or rather hideousness.
I admit that there were some pieces here that I couldn t finish, either out of frustration or ignorance That s probably my fault than Dave s Still, he could have helped me out a bit But he never did So even though I admired his talents, I didn t like his book.