Read Girl With Curious Hair by David Foster Wallace Online


David Foster Wallace is one of the most prodigiously talented young writers in America today, and Girl with Curious Hair is replete with his remarkable and unsettling re-imaginations of reality. From the eerily "real," almost holographic evocations of historical figures like Lyndon Johnson and overtelevised game-show hosts and late-night comedians to the title story, whereDavid Foster Wallace is one of the most prodigiously talented young writers in America today, and Girl with Curious Hair is replete with his remarkable and unsettling re-imaginations of reality. From the eerily "real," almost holographic evocations of historical figures like Lyndon Johnson and overtelevised game-show hosts and late-night comedians to the title story, where terminal punk nihilism meets Young Republicanism, Wallace renders the incredible comprehensible, the bizarre normal, the absurd hilarious, the familiar strange....

Title : Girl With Curious Hair
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780393313963
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 373 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Girl With Curious Hair Reviews

  • s.p
    2019-02-21 23:50

    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 D!....Give me a F!...Give 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, through some helpful and insightful discussions and rereads of the stories with others (I highly recommend reading Garima's wonderfully comprehensive review!), I have not only been able to pinpoint my feelings on the book, but my appreciation has only continued to grow. The stories in this collection, while each varying dramatically at times in terms of style and voice, all seem to reflect upon the psychological implications of existing in the modern era of media and social pressures. Girl is an excellent introduction into the works of DFW, offering an exciting, page turning look at a wide variety of his chameleon-like styles and an introductory look into themes he would toy with and expand upon for the whole of his stunning career. Written in his mid-20s, Wallace already demonstrates a piercing intellect coupled with a seemingly effortless and strikingly versatile writing ability. What finally convinced me to read DFW, who almost instantly rose through the ranks of ‘favorite authors’, was a small discussion on him in James Wood’s How Fiction Works. Although the Wood was using the story Mister Squishy from DFW’s later short story collection Oblivion, Wood discusses how Wallace (as well as Pynchon and DeLillo) are ready and willing to ‘become, to impersonate what he describes, even when the subject itself is debased, vulgar, boring.’ This ability is made most apparent in the title story where Wallace narrates from the poetically void perspective of an extremely narcissistic - and arguably sociopathic - young, republican attorney. Other good examples is the way he allows the society of his characters to control the narration and, most noticeably, the syntax of other stories as well, such as John Billy and Everything is Green. There are also several stories included whose characters and story allow for more of his own, personal, voice, making room for literary discussions, and terminology in Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way,, and, as in Here, a discussion on the blending of mathematics and poetry. (Wallace, as shown in this useful wiki article, majored in both English and Philosophy, focusing on modal logic and mathematics).A major theme through the course of Wallace’s work was his dissection of media and entertainment. Here the reader can see Wallace’s early musings on the subject, examining popular entertainment in stories such as Little Expressionless Animals (which alone is worth the price of the book) and . It is interesting to see how the implications of these stories have only become more poignant with age. My Appearance, a story discussing the way late 80s entertainment such as David Letterman, made ‘money ridiculing the exact things that have put him in a position to make money ridiculing things’, takes on a whole new meaning seeing it from todays standards where Letterman’s ridiculing and humor is rather benign compared to much of the other, more insensitive and cutting media satires on television. DFW explores the way society has come to tear down anything and anyone that takes itself seriously, and the only defense is to be self-ridiculing and laugh at oneself. He argues that nobody really wants to see someone succeed, they want to see someone rise to the top merely to tear and claw at them as they fall from great heights and feast on their corpse. They don’t want someone to talk about how great and serious they are, but only to mock the very things they take serious. In this story we see early examples of ‘using the joke to manipulate the very same audience that parodies had made fun of them for manipulating’ that were thematically crucial to his later masterpiece Infinite Jest. While exploring entertainment, Wallace is able to create a highly entertaining work as well. The method of which he delivers his stories takes on an almost Hollywood approach; when reflecting back on the final passage of the title story, a scene spiraling out of control narrated as if all of the action is occurring in slow motion, it rises in the mind as if it were a film I had viewed instead if a story I had read. He manages to construct such a vivid image through spatial diagramming the scene with his descriptions and flawlessly illustrating the flow of motion. The scenes of Little Expressionless Animals are cut up and rearranged like a Tarantino film, allowing for an emotional impact through the descriptions of a scene to occur before examining and explaining the emotional and psychological significance later on. It keeps the reader turning pages, seeking out the piece of the puzzle that, once fit to the rest, brings the whole picture into focus. At times Wallace does tend to serve up a characters backstory to explain why they are the way they are in one big unsubtle scoop, but this scoop is served on a golden platter of intellect as a side to the delicious story that it is hardly worth criticizing him over. The most blatant example is in the story Girl With Curious Hair, when the sexual deviance of the narrator and the fiery consequences enforced by his father are revealed during an acid trip, which allows the reader to draw their own connections from his childhood to his current sociopathic behavior (1). To simply conclude as such would be cause to moan, yet Wallace offers a brilliant non-ending that allows for the reader to decide how the final scene plays out. Suddenly the reader must become aware of their own opinions on the character, judging for themselves if the narrator is able to change, or is purely a monster. There are several key moments in this collection where the significance of the ending is left ambiguous, most notably in the wonderful (and personal favorite) Luckily The Accountant Knew CPR, or, in the case of Everything Is Green, the whole story and all it’s implications are ambiguous, and allows for a reader participation that offers both insight into the characters and the character of the reader.The post-modernist are clearly an influence on Wallace, yet he manages to let his own voice and style take its own shape under their guidance in this collection. There were a few points (primarily the way each character or story has it’s own little ‘quirk’, something repeated a few times such as on character always taking Xanax) where I briefly caught comparisons to Chuck Palahniuk. I only mention this as the two authors seem to have a few similar influences, but to compare DFW at his earliest to Palahniuk at his best, is more to Wallace’s credit than anything. Wallace grew to be mentioned in the same breath amongst his influences instead of a become a brief stepping stone in the reading career of a young reader on their way towards those influences as Chuck P became (at least that is how it happened for me, Chuck P led me to DeLillo and Pynchon at the end of high school when his style began to grate on me and I thirsted for something greater). There are times when Wallace is clearly ‘Pynchonesque’, where Wallace openly expands on Barth’s Lost in the Funhouse, or how the story Lyndon seems to have been influenced or inspired by Donald Barthelme’s story Robert Kennedy Saved From Drowning, but it reads more as a celebration of genius, a salute to his influences as he marches forth into the fields of literature, than a mere rehash and nod to greater authors. Despite all the love I’ve been spewing for this collection, I should probably touch on the downsides to offer a fair warning. John Billy, which being a great exercise in diction, something he would later employ with great talent in Jest, is cumbersome and leaves the reader feeling underwhelmed after exerting so much to follow the story. Say Anything is another that the word ‘exercise’ should apply to. It felt more as if Wallace was attempting to sharpen his skills, narrating a story from the least interested, or possibly the least expected, member of the story, while demonstrating versatility over style within one story. The ideas can be deduced and examined, yet it felt lacking compared to the stand-out stories. While I loved Westward, those adverse towards metafiction should steer clear as it is essentially metafiction of metafiction. I have seen the argument that Wallace’s sentencing is overly difficult and run on to the horizon, his techniques are something I greatly enjoy. It wasn’t until after reading multiple complaints of his style that I noticed how long his sentences were. In his defense, Wallace is a self-declared grammar nerd, so at least you can be assured he keeps to proper form and grammar. If you are looking for a great, accessible introduction to the man Himself, or are an old fan looking for more, I give the highest of recommendations to Girl With Curious Hair. While I must admit a few stories were less than loveable, on the whole this collection is a joy. His intellect shines brightly from every page and his acute observations, such as the fat man walking being described as ‘moving only via a shifting of weight from side to side, a humanoid balloon with too much air’ will have you laughing while thinking ‘that’s so true!’ Each story demonstrates a young artist coming into his own and gives hope to the future of literature. This is more accessible than his other works, and while every book written later each displays a tremendous leap in growth, writing ability (compare the impressive vocabulary and technicalities of Oblivion to this one), and footnotes (none in this one), but Girl is still wildly addictive and entertaining. Crack it open and enter the mind of a genius.4.5/5(1) It has been suggested that the title story is Wallace's attempt to poke his elbow into the ribs of 'literary Brat Pack' writers such as Bret Easton Ellis. It has been speculated that Ellis' recent negative commentary on DFW spawned from stories such as this. Read thearticle by DFW's editor

  • Garima
    2019-03-19 03:42

    BEGINNING OF AN AFFAIRI saw him many times around here, since I 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 other.David: Hi! How you doin?Me: *thinking about what should be an appropriate reply in correct English..Oh Hell!* Hello! I’m doin good..How are you?David: Well, I'm sentient today. *straight face*Me: *Gaping*David: Ha! Got yaMe: *embarrassing giggle*David: 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 accepted*David: Contemplating! Why?Me: 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 myself.David: 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 personality. And for now, have this sparkling Water.Me: I looked back at that Girl while drinking that water, but when I turned around he was gone…Whoosh! 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 pages just 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 just wanted to share my bittersweet ordeal.It 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 qualify to judge 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 comprehension/incomprehension of them.Little Expressionless animals – 5 StarsMy Favorite of the lot, a quirky take 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 more than happy to be familiar with a common factor between the story and the movie, i.e. 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 job of a reader begins of putting the narrative in a proper sequence 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 quite dismal or simply complicated when the cameras are off. Luckily the Account Representative Knew CPR – 4 StarsA title quite 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 lives.Girl 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 readers…tell me what you see? Tell me what you think?Lyndon- 3 StarsThis particular story was too American for me so my judgment 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 between.John Billy- 2 StarAt this point, I’m regretting 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 work.Here and There- 3.5 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 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 entertainment/media 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 question 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 anything…Never Say Never. That’s it, I didn’t get much out of this story, my least favorite.Everything is Green- 4 StarsA two page story, and we witness a different Wallace here. Revealing more 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 sources.Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way- 4.5 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’. Umm..No! *At this point, the reviewer thought of pulling off a John Barth but soon realized her incapability to do so*I 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 more. 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 techniques a writer generally employs in his narratives. Those interruptions are the high points of this story for me. They presented a critique 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 required 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 Wallace.A HAPPY ENDINGEvery relationship needs some work and I’m more 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 queries 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 quite understand it either.- Yeah, I really have no idea what was going on in that one . So thanks ;)2. Various blogs available on net.3. And some clear and great analysis given in Understanding David Foster Wallace

  • MJ Nicholls
    2019-03-17 03:33

    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 reasons.This 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 work.These selections demonstrate his flair for aggressive comedy, intensely felt language, experimental forms, and Pynchonesque 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 more ironic lens, one knowingly beyond such a passé 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 more showboating grandiloquence 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 more 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 more than one reading.

  • Roula
    2019-03-05 00:54

    "οι μερες περνουν,η θεια και ο θειος μου ειναι αψογα ευγενικοι, αλλα το Μειν γινεται ενα ακομη εδω αντι να ειναι εκει"....literally,story of my life...αυτο το βιβλιο αποτελειται απο 10 ιστοριες,μεταξυ των οποιων βρισκεται και αυτη που εδωσε τον τιτλο στο βιβλιο και που-κατα τη γνωμη μου-ειναι μια απο τις πιο ενδιαφερουσες.σε αυτες τις 10 ιστοριες λοιπον,υπηρχαν αλλες πιο συντομες,αλλες πιο μεγαλες,αλλες πολυ καλες,αλλες που δε μου κεντρισαν καθολου το ενδιαφερον.ολες ομως εδειχναν ποσο σπουδαιος τυπος ηταν αυτος ο συγγραφεας και ποσο -προσωπικα- θα ηθελα να μπω για λιγο στο κεφαλι του και απλα να δω πως ηταν να ζεις με τις σκεψεις του...για λιγο ομως..3.5 αστερια και πολλη αγαπη για τον DFW.

  • Dustin
    2019-03-08 01:47

    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 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 pursuit/importance 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 school."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."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 quite 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.4.25 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 more 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 more 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 words...They'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 hetero/homosexuality, and it's done in such a way as to be completely unbiased. There's a certain dignity to both lifestyles which suggests an equality 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 techniques (cliche's being one of my absolute biggest pet peeves,) but seen here-not to mention the title story, which is much more 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 just 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 quite mundane, the techniques used are not. For one, the prose isn't linear. Secondly, the dialogue is never identified. Not only that, the entire 20 pages consists of their 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 more 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"? Furthermore, 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..?3.5 stars Say Never"We 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 just really close friends. They've known one another for may decades. In fact, they (view spoiler)[comforted one another when their spouses died. (hide spoiler)] What we have here, in the present, is a story of infidelity, betrayal, and the untimely consequences of a broken family as they must relate to each other, in their new found and tragic reality. I wanted to rate this higher than my 4.5 stars, but found it somewhat confusing at first, and the ending left something to be desired, which isn't necessarily a negative thing.Everything Is Green At a whopping two pages, this offering overwhelmed me with its sheep amount of depth, truth, beauty and sadness, as evident of the human condition. "Everything is not green," indeed.5 stars Westward The Course Of Empire Takes Its Way What happens when three twenty-something's who are sleep deprived, on edge, and dazed (amongst other things,) struggle to find their way to a McDonald's reunion? As intriguing as this may or may not sound, said premise merely scrapes the surface. That's right, the plot is almost secondary. Throughout the novella's 144 pages, Wallace takes the reader deep into his beautiful, stunning and inarguably unique mind/world, showcasing (like The Price Is Right, anyone?,) the subtle differences between post-modernism and what he referred to as "New Realism," or "the Resurrection of Realism," coupled with metafiction. Interestingly enough, DFW didn't consider himself to be a post-modernist.Similar themes include the embodiment of character, of narrative; imperialism, consumerism; the influx of popular culture, superficiality, neurosis, and an overwhelming influx of information in general. This is the information super age, after all. All of which was his point. Wallace was attempting to convey the tedium of everyday life, fully acknowledging its tendency to disrupt our lives, thus slowing us down while at the same time, providing much revelation and allowing society (especially those in the 18-25 demographic,) to mature.. if only we let it.In essence, Westward The Course Of Empire Takes Its Way is about our ever-changing world. It also happens to be the most difficult of the collection (Here And There is simple in comparison,) and the most "real" feeling story I have read. Ever. There is much, much more going on here that 1.) I'd be doing a disservice to dissect them all and 2.) I'm not even sure I comprehended it in its entirety. "..The poor lucky reader's not that scene's target, though he hears the keen whistle and feels the razored breeze and knows that there but for the grace of the Pater of us all lies someone, impaled red as the circle's center, prone and arranged, each limb a direction, on land so borderless there's nothing to hold your eye except food and sky and the shadow of one slow clock..." Whether it was written in homage to John Barth's Lost in the Funhouse, or in parody remains to be seen. Either way, Wallace was clearly inspired by Barth's 1968 release, which is also a short story collection. I simply cannot cannot give this less than 5 stars. Hopefully I have done Girl With Curious Hair the justice it deserved. Though I really doubt it.

  • Joshua Nomen-Mutatio
    2019-03-07 02:52

    (The following came up in the comment thread of my review of Oblivion: Stories.)The more I think about it the more I would recommend that people new to DFW start with his first short stories collection Girl with Curious Hair. His first two books (the novel/his 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 more "accessible" style on the whole.Starting 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 quasi-autobiographical look into his writing workshop days in graduate school, and much, much more. 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 20th/21st century and beyond. Great stuff.

  • Nathan
    2019-03-18 02:52

    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 it.Using 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 question, “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 more 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 to preach and sometimes preaches things one would like to preach and does preach, but heavy-handed at times, isn’t 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” (required 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 one?All 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 century.____________As 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 just boycotting the shameless behavior of the publisher.--Something else?__________Neophytes, 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 required statement of WTV endorsement accomplished]___________A piece by Jenn Shapland, emerging DFW scholar, her piece on Girl With Curious Hair, particularly regarding "Westward.""Girl 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 more than the verbal trapeze act he’s known for."

  • Scribble Orca
    2019-03-03 23:32

    Guy With Furious Hair or ~ The Toga Party ~Little of this life has been spent considering death.Paternal 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 requested 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 ghost.Parents 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 slumber.Thus 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, occur.It 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 Quadrangle, 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 is sited, the winners drenched in cheap champagne and beer, and hoisted on shoulders to be paraded around the stadium, carrying the Horse of Triumph, a grotesque equine effigy stabled in the bowels of the Student Union offices during the year and led out for the dubious honour of this annual spectacle.Via the lack of virtue bequeathed 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 equally uninspiring quartet 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 acquired, and quit 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 forwards.Friday 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 quantities 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 deadline.Such was the being of an Economics student.But 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 quos, wandering the ever less-crowded campus grounds for some time after the finish of the chariot 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 quite 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 jacaranda trees passing us bye, claiming these are the only territory he ever has the chance to mark.We 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 squinting in the direction indicated and starting to move off along the opposite, and perfectly legitimate, route.“Shell, jus’ 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 squat rectangle of metal sheeting resembling an abandoned filing cabinet, 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 bisected.Feeling 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 jus’ 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 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 it joins 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 carpet.The 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 water.The orange plastic cover is still a possessed object. The narrator plans to be buried wearing it.

  • Szplug
    2019-02-28 22:45

    Difficult, brilliant, jarring, funny, ironically earnest and earnestly ironic with the limpidity of apostasy and the remote functionality of an egg-white toaster, I just 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.

  • Stephen M
    2019-03-02 04:44

    enyways=mah peeps sayin i red 2 much da dee eff dub but ah say tat i can neva red 2 much ah him and i can red whatevs u kow? example mah fav book [effinite gest:] ess dah best i wont red 5th times an i can neva red no buk afta an knot tink a hem, dee eff dub, an how much i luv him fur laiffe all da time u kow? example i will neva forget abut da gurrll wit tha hare an how much i luv da vice of dee eff dub an how he writs all laike mest up an weeeeeeurd but at da sam time kinda buitiful cause heh do tings wit wurds tat i wish i cuuld do an o course i alriddy tri to copy him laike fiefty times its god to copy writrrs wen u're lurning piece and lurve erryone

  • Arthur Graham
    2019-03-23 23:53

    David Foster Wallace turns the short story upside down and inside out, making the adjectives 'inventive,' 'unique,' and 'original' seem blasé. — T.C. BoyleT.C. Boyle turns the buddy blurb into an art form, making the adjectives 'hyperbolic,' 'obsequious,' and 'pompous ass' seem passé. Furthermore, dude looks like a Q-tip dipped in iodine. — Arthur GrahamI don't know what happened, but I'm pretty sure I was supposed to like this way more than I did.While there were definitely some solid stories here, and there were enough gems of description and dialogue to keep me reading on for more, large swaths of this book were decidedly underwhelming in my humble estimation. It wasn't the author's convoluted narrative, his deliberate obfuscation, or his penchant for erudition; that would be the pot calling the kettle black in this case. Maybe I'm just more 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 shit.Maybe it was the title that turned me off. I swear to god, if one more 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.

  • Neil
    2019-02-27 02:31

    Sometimes I can't read more than 20 pages at a time of David Foster Wallace because I get so weighed down by his detail, psychology and theme that my ADD kicks in out of self-defense. Other times I have to break because I substituted comprehension in place of breathing for too long and I just needed a more straightforward book.LyndonShe said ‘Love’ is simply a word. It joins separate things. Lyndon and I, though you would disagree, agree that we do not properly love one another anymore. Because we ceased long ago to be enough apart for a ‘love’ to span any distance. Lyndon says he shall cherish the day when love and right and wrong and responsibility, when these words, he says, are understood by you youths of America to be nothing but arrangements of distance…the distance at which we see each other, arrange each other, love. That love…is a federal highway…putting communities, that move and exist at a great distance, in touch.’‘Two close people can’t love each other, even in a sort of Platonic way?’‘You stand in relations…You contain one are the sky whose presence and meaning have become everyday.Surely love means less?’There is a great breakdown of this dialogue here: DFW WikiWe each hold different positions in this world, built from various factors: historical, social, cultural, economic, etc. These factors contribute to our own understanding of the world. However, through love, the distance between our understandings—our positions—is shortened. An example would be a child going to Sunday school for the first time and being introduced to a character named Jesus. At first the child would have to become acquainted with ideas that help them define what a Jesus is: how does he look, what language does he speak, is he friendly? Eventually the child’s concept becomes ingrained into their daily lives. As they grow older, in times of need or despair they might invoke His name to comfort themselves--distance of positions are closing. Perhaps one day he/she won’t need to invoke the name because they will have fully adopted the concept and life of Jesus making their positions as one. At that point ‘Love’ (which is a concept—a word) will have been transcended.The inability to shorten the distance between two positions is defined by the word ‘hatred.’ Positions are not limited to just people but all concepts, such as the concepts of "right" and "wrong." From the DFW Wiki:“[Lyndon] and other adults of his generation are in a position to understand why the Vietnam War can be right, and that the protesters' generational distance from this position is the source of their inability to understand the war. This distance between Johnson and the protesters is, of course, best described by the word hatred.”‘Love’, ‘hatred’, and the transcendence of each, are defined by the distance between positions.John BillyIn a small town in Oklahoma John Billy is telling the story of Chuck Nunn Jr to a police Ranger. They are sitting in a bar surrounded by local town people. Three days ago Chuck Nunn killed everyone currently in this bar and no one seems to realize it. The Ranger, who identifies himself as Chuck in one part of the story, appears to be Chuck Nunn’s morality. Say NeverI have told the [girlfriend] how I will never be forgiven for this. Never. How by the time you reach a certain history and situation you’re bound up with people, part of a larger thing. How the whole [family] becomes as liquid, and any agitation ripples. She asked me who it was who first said ‘never say never.’ I told her it must have been someone alone.Being wronged by an acquaintance or stranger (a distant position) can be answered by cleaving them out of your life. But to be wronged by an immediate family member (a close position) is a tougher problem to figure out. "Agitation ripples” and it's a messy situation. My Appearance’Make sure you’re seen as making fun of yourself, but in a self-aware and ironic way…In other words, appear the way [David] Letterman appears, on Letterman…Laugh in a way that’s somehow deadpan. Act as if you knew from birth that that’s just where the fun is.This short story is an offshoot of DFW's essay E Unibus Pluram , and a great intro into one of the major themes of ‘Infinite Jest.’---I enjoyed this book more than Infinite Jest because it was easier to bite off and chew. In each story DFW pins us down in the human condition before delivering a denouement that uplifts and points to a way forward. To where ‘Everything Is Green.’

  • Guillermo Jiménez
    2019-03-10 20:40

    Creo que Goodreads debiera tener la opción de permitirte calificar una o dos veces al año uno o dos libros con más de 5 estrellas.Este sería uno de mis libros con más de 5 estrellas.Cada uno de los relatos es un bombazo.El primero me recordó a un buen heredero literario de Salinger.El segundo es de una tensión brutal.El tercero (que da título al libro) precede magistralmente lo que de alguna manera desarrollará con gran tino Ellis en American Psycho.El cuarto es de lo mejor que he leído en literatura posmoderna con tintes históricos (y vamos que Homes tiene el relato aquel del Reagan con Alzheimer).El quinto lo sentí como el más flojo.El sexto es soberbio con su manejo del tiempo y las narraciones simultáneas.El séptimo, pues, bueno, lo leí entero solo porque había leído que Arturo no lo leyó porque lo odió. Y sí, lo puedes saltar sin temor a perderte de nada. Yo no me lo iba a saltar. Obvio.El octavo vale la pena leerse en inglés, que tampoco es inglés, pero, vale la pena. El noveno es el DFW de un mundo paralelo: igual de soberbio pero en tan solo dos páginas.El décimo.El décimo.Es prácticamente un análisis literario de la historia contemporánea de la literatura en Norteamérica.Es una bitácora de un viaje en barco intercontinental donde hay de todo como en alta mar: tormentas, calmas, vientos recios, sol, nubes. Es una ballena blanca. Es, simplemente, maestro.Creo que si alguien no piensa leer jamás a DFW, al menos debería leer este último relato, que por su extensión sería más bien una novella. DFW escribe la literatura de nuestro tiempo. No escribe cómics ni series de televisión. No da concesiones al lector. Es un escritor de nuestra era. Es, quizás, junto con Franzen, y por situarlo generacionalmente, con Homes, con otros más, los únicos que parecieran seguir preocupados porque la literatura es algo que vale la pena.Algo necesario.Al diablo con los storytellers. Con la literatura simplona y ramplona y puñetera.

  • FrancoSantos
    2019-02-21 20:46

    Tiene relatos que parecen una completa burla de Foster Wallace al lector. Relatos que no parecen tener ningún sentido. Relatos agotadores que te hacen usar tu mayor fuerza de voluntad para terminarlos. Pero tiene otros alcanzan un punto de excelencia apoteósico. La última historia (que en realidad se podría llamar novela corta), Hacia el oeste, el avance del imperio continúa, es de lo mejor que he leído: quebró mi manera de ver el mundo de la Publicidad y el Yo solipsista. Foster Wallace me expuso la importancia sinecdóquica del mercado publicitario: una muestra del Ser y las Relaciones, de los Miedos y los Deseos para representar la Vida. Otros relatos que me parecieron soberbios son: Lyndon, Por suerte el ejecutivo de cuentas sabía practicar la reanimación cardiopulmonar, John Billy y Aquí y allí.En fin, en general muy buenos trabajos de Foster Wallace. Recomiendo absolutamente este libro a quien le guste la manera de escribir del autor.

  • Nicholaus Patnaude
    2019-03-18 23:53

    I read this as an act of mourning for a writer I never understood. Nonetheless, his death shook me to the core for here was a man who had many things I've spent the last few years of my life desiring like an enthusiastic Bears fan. I'd attempted Infinite Jest earlier this year and had given up, feeling his verbal pyrotechnics would only end in nausea. Outpourings of grief on various web addresses painted an entirely new portrait of the man; one I had missed on my initial encounter with his work. This book was a difficult journey, yet every other story was like being in an alternate, hallucinated reality only about 1/10 different than our own. LBJ, Alex Tribek, and Letterman inhabit a few. Strangely, they are the ones we know so well regardless of interest only like diabolical twins, distorted somehow--we find a personality switch might have been turned off or broken. And of course the title story has such the eerie tone of a drugged, aroused mind grappling with the english language more unsuccessfully and stiltedly such that would only occur in proper/tidy/obsessive to a fault dfw's most endless nightmare of solipsistic perfection. I will read you some more dfw. I'm sorry it took this to re-spark my interest, but, sadly, sometimes it takes death to see someone clearly. People aren't very honest or generous when talking about the living ... at least not in a meaningful sense. RIP.

  • Shannon
    2019-02-28 22:55

    Edit again: So even though I haven't read all of DFW's work yet, I think this book would be a good place to start for someone who has read none. Originally I was telling people Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, but that's just because that's the first one I read and I loved it. This collection is... fucking brilliant. It's beyond my ability to really say more. I remember I was reading "Little Expresionless Animals" the day before DFW died, and I was like "oh my god I can't believe someone this brilliant is alive". Irony, eh. Oh, and the titular story.. epic. Painfully insightful, hilarious, scary, beautiful, everything. Edit: David Foster Wallace is dead. My heart is kind of broken. The world is a worse place.This book is short stories so I'm gonna briefly review each of 'em. Maybe. I dunno.Little Expressionless Animals was fucking great. Sad, beautiful, hilarious. I LOVE DAVID FOSTER WALLACE. SO MUCH. I CANT EVEN DESCRIBE THE EXTENT OF MY LOVE.

  • Celeste - Una stanza tutta per me
    2019-03-07 02:42

    [...] mi ritrovai a sentirmi salire nella gola succhiottata la tentazione soffocante di esplicare discolpare, essoterizzare, estinguere in me stesso e per me stesso la verità, la piatta, poco attraente e poco interessante verità che mi si era concretizzata di fronte grazie a null'altro che una piccola riga scritta velocemente a matita in caratteri leggeri e tremolanti sopra l'orinatoio più a sud del bagno degli uomini sul piano dove si trovava il mio studio all'università, la riga che diceva soltantobasta fare il bravo ragazzoHo sentito (o meglio, ho visto - grazie youtube) Mark Costello, amico intimo di DFW, affermare in un panel che 'La ragazza dai capelli strani' fosse l'ultima bella raccolta di racconti che gli Stati Uniti avessero prodotto. Non avendone letto neanche la maggior parte, non posso schierarmi, però posso dire che alcuni di questi racconti sono sicuramente tra i più belli che io abbia mai letto. ( Piccoli animali senza espressione è probabilmente diventato IL mio racconto preferito.)Si rincorrono tra le pagine gli stessi strutturatissimi temi: cosa significa essere soli, la sostanziale incomunicabilità tra gli esseri umani, la forza ed allo stesso tempo la falsità del linguaggio, le apparenze del consumismo, ciò che si fa contro ciò che si è. Foster Wallace è fallibile e finalmente ho letto un racconto che non mi ha entusiasmato, il che mi ha reso doppiamente entusiasta per gli ultimi due splendidi racconti.Che vi devo dire, DFW essere (v.b: da declinare a qualsiasi tempo verbale si creda appropriato; è per negare l'evidenza ed era per ferirmi. Sarà per venerare assieme. La tripletta era, è, e sarà per esaltarmi.) un genio.

  • Tony
    2019-03-05 01:58

    You can't be cool unless you like David Foster Wallace. It's like a rule or something. You have to get it. You have to even refer to him by his initials: DFW. Like a password; so the other members of the cognescenti will know you are one of them, one of the cool ones. And, well, I would certainly like to be cool. So I gave this book a try. Actually, I gave the title story, Girl with the Curious Hair, four tries. I am sorry to admit that I am not cool.Girl with the Curious Hair is about a douchebag. Rather than paint him subtly though, Wallace went for stereotypical caricature. So he made him a Young Republican, big-firm lawyer who couldn't get into ROTC because of personality issues, and therefore couldn't follow in his father's glorious military tradition. (This would be an appropriate place for the cognescenti to nod sagely). That's not enough; of course he has to be a racist. He hangs with LSD-tripping punkrockers. They take some acid and go to a Keith Jarrett concert. These are the words Wallace puts into the protagonist's mind to show what a pompous, racist asshole he is:Keith Jarrett is a Negro who plays the piano. I very much enjoy seeing Negroes perform in all areas of the performing arts. I feel they are a talented and delightful race of performers, who are very entertaining. I especially enjoy watching Negroes perform from a distance, for close up they frequently smell unpleasant.It would be hard to make this guy more unlikeable. Here's the problem though: KEITH JARRETT IS NOT AFRICAN-AMERICAN! It is a common mistake because of his hair and skin tone and because he is a genius at jazz piano. (He is also a great classical pianist). But he's not African-American. I had to read the story four times to see if maybe Wallace was being very clever in portraying the protagonist's mistake. But I'm convinced, rather, that it's Wallace who errs. It's Wallace who sees 'black' and does not penetrate the skin.This is the kind of thing that drives me crazy. I will never be cool.

  • Justin Evans
    2019-03-11 00:48

    This book is very clever because every story is post-something. Little Expressionless Animals, Lydon, My Appearance- Post-Delillo. Luckily...- post Beckett. Girl with curious Hair- post-Easton Ellis. John Billy- post-Faulkner. Here and There- post writing workshop (okay, that's a stretch.) Say Never- post Roth. Everything is Green- I really don't know, but induction says that this, too, is post-something. And the mother of all the posts, 'Westward the Course of Empire,' is post-Barth (unfortunately John and not Karl.) Yes, all very clever. And sometimes moving. Here's how it works: each story pretends to be hip and ironic and post-modern, then whups you upside the head with deep, undeniable sentiment. The problem with all this is that people who don't know DeLillo, Becket, Easton Ellis, Roth, Barth etc... won't get why they should care about the ironizing of irony bits that start each story, and are unlikely to feel the whup when they are whupped. I quite liked the book, but it's hard for me to say why anyone who isn't deeply interested in literary polemic would bother reading it. The prose styles are pretty good, and there's an impressive range of them, sure. As I may have mentioned, it's all very clever. It's the sort of thing that makes me want to write an essay. Before you go buy this because he's important and dead, ask yourself: am I the kind of person who often reads books and is inspired to write essays about them? Because if you're not, buy DFW's essays. They don't inspire me to write; they inspire me to read. Also be aware that DFW himself said, re: Westward the Course of Empire Takes its Way, "25 year olds should be denied access to pen and paper." Also, I'm particularly cranky because I read Barth's story, 'Lost in the Funhouse,' to prepare for reading Westward. As bad as Westward is, it's the better of the two. No thanks for getting me to read that dreck, David, wherever you are.

  • Núria
    2019-03-02 21:53

    Mi reseña propiamente dicha de 'La niña del pelo raro'4 + 5 + 3 + 4 + 2 + 5 + 4 + 3 + 3 + 3 = 36 36 : 10 = 3,6Ésta sería la fórmula que explicaría mi valoración de los relatos de 'La niña del pelo raro'. Por supuesto, esto no quiere decir absolutamente nada. Debí leer este libro por primera vez debe hacer unos cinco años. Desde entonces, aunque no lo parezca, debo haber cambiado. Aunque sólo sea porque ahora 'La niña del pelo raro' me ha gustado mucho más, supongo que porque he pillado muchas más cosas de las que pillé la primera vez. Ahora he podido ver que en el que fue su segundo libro ya hay muchas de las características del típico DFW que yo tanto adoro. Aún así hay todo un trecho entre 'La niña del pelo raro' y el último libro que publicó ('Extinción'), toda una evolución, pero en 'La niña del pelo raro' ya hay dos relatos que consiguen provocarme esa sensación que es por la que quiero tanto a David Foster Wallace, ya hay dos relatos que consiguen hacer que me duela el corazón. Y unos cuantos que me parecen magníficos y también despiertan mi envidia. Hacer una reseña (o algo) de un libro de relatos siempre se me hace chungo, porque lo que me apetecería hacer sería comentar mis relatos favoritos, pero parece que lo que más se estilaría sería intentar buscar cosas en común en todos los relatos. Vamos a ver, ¿qué pueden tener en común los relatos de 'La niña del pelo raro'? 1) El uso de ciertas técnicas o premisas típicas de la literatura posmoderna, básicamente el hecho de que el propio texto es consciente que sólo es un texto de ficción; 2) El uso de personas reales en una historia de ficción, ya sean presentadores de televisión o presidentes de Estados Unidos, o también escritores posmodernos, aunque se les haya cambiado el nombre, porque está claro que el profesor Ambrose es el escritor posmoderno John Barth (o como mínimo una parodia de él); y 3) el uso de un sarcasmo pasivo-agresivo de lo más sutil marca de la casa, dirigido tanto al mundo de la televisión como la política o la literatura, pero también un sentido del humor grotesco y absurdo.Probablemente mi cuento favorito (tanto esta vez como la anterior) haya sido 'Por suerte, el ejecutivo de cuentas sabía practicar la reanimación cardiopulmonar'. Es una anécdota de sólo 10 páginas pero alta densidad emocional. No ocurre básicamente nada: Son más de las diez de la noche y el ejecutivo de cuentas y el vicepresidente encargado de la producción exterior, que trabajan en oficinas distintas, se dirigen a casa, coinciden y luego al vicepresidente encargado de la producción exterior le da un patatús, pero, por suerte, el ejecutivo de cuentas sabía practicar la reanimación cardiopulmonar. Y ahí se termina todo. Con un final que no es un final. Con un final típico de DFW. Lo que me gusta del cuento es lo que tanto me gusta de David Foster Wallace: su atención obsesivo-compulsiva por el más mínimo detalle, su exasperante descripción y análisis de los más mínimos gestos y procesos de pensamiento. Esta descripción agotadora (agotadora en el sentido que agota todo lo que se puede describir) hace que el cuento transmita perfectamente cierto estado de ánimo. En mi caso, cuando lo termino de leer, siento que todo es futil, que no podemos ayudarnos los unos a los otros, que no podemos entendernos, y me duele el corazón. Mi otro cuento favorito es 'Aquí y allí'. Curiosamente de este no me acordaba absolutamente de nada. Lo había borrado completamente de la memoria. Quizás ni siquiera lo había borrado, quizás había dejado tan poca huella en mí que ni siquiera necesitaba olvidarlo. Probablemente no estaba preparada. La historia parece la típica de pareja-que-rompe y tenemos la versión de los dos, que evidentemente no coincide, pero rápidamente te das cuenta que él es un capullo y te dices que es perfectamente normal que la chica le diera la patada. Pero llega el giro final y te compadeces del presunto capullo. Y esto es lo que tanto me gusta de DFW: que es capaz de hacer que sienta empatía por alguien que en condiciones normales detestaría. Y lo consigue haciéndome ver que en el fondo tenemos miedo de lo mismo. Además, me he dado cuenta que el tema del cuento no es pareja-que-rompe (con el clásico subtema de incomunicación y blablabla) sino vida-intelectual-con-sus-análisis-teóricos-y-abstractos-como-refugio versus vida-real-con-sus-riesgo-y-su-dolor, y como las dos mundos se excluyen y como muchos no podemos optar ni por uno ni por otro. Supongo que por la época en que lo leí aún no lo había asimilado con la profundidad que lo he asimilado ahora. Tres de los cuentos que recordaba con más claridad eran los tres cuentos que más reflejan la cultura popular de nuestra época, a saber, los dos de la tele y el del presidente Lyndon B.Johnson (el presidente más feo de la historia según Jerry Seinfeld). Probablemente sean los más accesibles. 'Mi aparición' es sobre la aparición de una actriz de televisión de segunda fila en el programa de David Letterman. El marido de la actriz está acojonado porque tiene miedo que Letterman con su sarcasmo hiriente la deje en ridículo delante de todo el país y no para de aleccionarla para que sepa esquivar los dardos de Letterman. Si yo fuera David Letterman me habría cabreado un montón. Tiene una mala leche impresionante. Es un análisis sobre lo corrosiva (y perjudicial) que puede llegar a ser la ironía, porque nos puede llegar a pasar como la actriz del cuento, que cuando hablemos en serio crean que estamos hablando de coña, porque en un mundo donde la ironía es la reina del cotarro no hay lugar para la sinceridad y la verdad, porque nos mofaremos de los que son sinceros y veraces. Es un cuento genial porque con un estilo pasivo-agresivo critica a alguien que también se refugia en un estilo pasivo-agresivo. Y estoy segura de que el cuento está al tanto de esta paradoja. Del mismo modo que hay novelas totales, yo defiendo que también hay cuentos totales. Para mí, un cuento total es aquel cuento que, normalmente bajo un reparto coral, consigue reflejar todo un mundo, una sociedad o una época. Ejemplos de cuentos totales serían 'Las joyas de los Cabot' de John Cheever y 'En el molino' de Jose María Eça de Queirós. Y también 'Animalitos inexpresivos' de DFW. Trata de una chica de 20 años, a la que su madre abandonó en un poste al lado de una carretera con su hermano autista. La chica de 20 años ahora se ha convertido en la concursante más lóngeva de Jeopardy! y ahora sale con la chica que redacta las preguntas del programa. Y posiblemente esto sea lo más parecido a una historia de amor que ha escrito DFW. Y es preciosa. Y muy triste. Pero el cuento también se centra en todos los personajes que intervienen en el concurso y funciona de una manera perfecta y describe todo un mundo que es el nuestro. 'Lyndon' es un relato sobre el presidente Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ) narrado por un ayudante homosexual que lo idolatra y que empezó trabajando con él como repartidor del correo. Recordaba el cuento perfectamente porque el LBJ de DFW es tronchante, chaval. El narrador conoce a LBJ cuando está en la cumbre de su fuerza y después del ascenso narrará la caída, que en este caso básicamente se traduce en decadencia física, una decadencia física que va de pareja con la del narrador, que probablemente se esté muriendo de SIDA. Me encanta que la decadencia de LBJ empieze justo cuando sucede el asesinato de Kennedy, es decir, justo antes de ser nombrado presidente. Es también un cuento sobre ideales y lealtad. Y en último término es un ejercicio de equilibrismo sobre los límites de la realidad y la ficción. Es impecable. Tengo una relación de amor/odio con 'Hacia el oeste, el avance del imperio continúa'. Es un cuento chungo. Aunque más que un cuento es una novella, porque tiene casi 200 páginas. Es realmente chungo. Lo analizo y lo analizo y noto que se me están escapando muchas cosas. Me gusta la trama, pero las digresiones posmodernas me cansan: me gusta la idea que hay detrás de ellas pero me cansa la forma insistente en la que están plasmadas. Creo que es un cuento que refleja la relación de amor/odio y dependencia/repulsión que sentía DFW respecto la literatura posmoderna. Es un texto que se queja sobre los tics de la literatura posmoderna pero para quejarse de los tics de la literatura posmoderna tiene que emplear estos mismos tics de la literatura posmoderna. Por ejemplo, se queja de las digresiones metaliterarias de la literatura posmoderna pero para hacerlo tiene que emplear digresiones metaliterarias. Es esquizofrénico. Hay un personaje que asiste a un curso de escritura creativa, que es nada más ni nada menos que el alter ego de DFW, que escribe un relato en el protagonista se llama Dave y pasa por un montón de mierda, cárcel y violaciones incluídas. Y yo me digo: "¡Joder, Dave, eran necesarias tantas muñecas rusas para decirnos que te odias a ti mismo!" Es esquizofrénico. Pero lo que me gusta más del relato es que los tres chicos jóvenes del cuento tienen las mismas dudas y los mismos miedos pero son incapaces de ver que pueden existir otras personas que estén pasando por lo mismo. Solipsismo al cubo, esto me encanta.Mi reacción/homenaje tras conocer la muerte de DFWSólo puedo llorar. Y llorar. Y escribir. Y releer David Foster Wallace.Dave, cambiaste mi forma de ver la literatura y la vida. Me ayudaste a conocerme mejor a mí misma. Pusiste en palabras lo que yo sentía pero no sabía expresar. Cambiaste mi forma de pensar. Tus obras siempre me han hecho sentir menos sola. Contigo he reído y he llorado. Ningún escritor me ha dado tanto como tú. Dave, estés donde estés, gracias. Te echaré muchísimo de menos. Nunca te olvidaré.

  • Vicente Ribes
    2019-02-27 00:49

    La niña del pelo raro es una interesante recopilación de los primeros relatos de Foster Wallace publicados en diferentes revistas y periódicos. En este libro ya se puedo apreciar su gran talento en algunos relatos y su afán por experimentar utilizando diferentes formas de narración y estilos. Una de las cosas que me suele suceder es que después de Foster Wallace me resulta más ligero leer otras cosas. Supongo que esto se debe a que el bueno de David no deja que te distraigas y su estilo hace que tengas que poner de tu parte para disfrutar plenamente de su escritura.En estos relatos hay además un análisis de las relaciones humanas, la sociedad americana, el consumismo y la hipocresía moral.Los relatos que más me han gustado son:“Animalitos inexpresivos”: Trata sobre un peculiar concurso televisivo y una mujer que acierta todas las preguntas.“Lyndon”: Ficción inventada sobre un supuesto secretario del el presidente Lyndon Baines Johnson.El autor usa estos personajes para relacionar hechos importantes de aquella época. Buena ambientación.“La niña del pelo raro”: Sobre la curiosa unión de un yuppie aficionado a quemar a las personas con un grupo de punks. Muy divertido y irreverente."Mi aparición": Fantástico cuento donde una actriz de series es invitada al programa Late Night with David Letterman. Su marido y su agente diseñarán toda una estrategia para que Letterman no la deje en ridículo que hará que nuestra actriz se replantee sus relaciones sentimentales y se enfrente a esa estrategia siendo natural y sin miedo a nada.“Hacia el oeste, el avance del imperio continúa“: Esto más que un cuento es una mininovela y trata sobre como un grupo de extraña gente se dirige a rodar el anuncio de Mcdonalds definitivo, el cual contará con todos los actores y actrices que han aparecido en anteriores anuncios de la compañia. El relato es muy divertido pero a su vez contiene reflexiones sobre como el autor va desarrollando la propia historia en una especie de ejercicio metanarrativo. El experimento resulta interesante pero lo esencial del cuento es la historia central y sus ridículos personajes.

  • Gabi Dopazo
    2019-03-19 22:38

    The first story, Little Expressionless Animals, the start of it… I mean, I normally chose books by reading the first paragraph(as I’m quite an ignorant and not cultured at all specially on foreign fiction, and by foreign I mean non-Spanish). But anyway, the girl and her brother are told to get out of the car in the middle of a highway, grab the post, see you later. That was something. But then it turns into something more. The lesbian story, the game show, the fact that the producer is now with the other girl’s father while her mum still works there, and then all those conversations, the need for a drink, the network’s big guy and his sex trafficking mind, the emptiness of every single fucker in there, and then the game show at such, the brother coming up… and then there is the style which Chris already described so well in his own little world/way of describing things… man, that short story was something, should be broken down and be taught at universities… An amazing plot that sucks you into an ever so cool style and into an ever so decadent state of mind

  • Roderick Vincent
    2019-03-10 03:45

    (4.5, but 5 for originality)If I could have anyone in the world I'd like explain what 8 dimensions looks like, David Foster Wallis would have been the man. A Frank Zappa wordsmith, be prepared to eat the yellow snow. His stories are like Jackson Pollock drip paintings. You're either going to say, "Groovy" or you just won't get it. He's Doctor Jacoby from Twin Peaks with the one-eye orange, one-eye blue sunglasses and Hawaiian T-shirt clacking on aromatic astro turf donning out "shaka brah" wavelets. It's a cocktail of postmodern metafiction with a splash of topotactic bitters. It's Zaphod Beeblebrox in the Total Perspective Vortex boiling your frog brains into a liquescent stew. It's elastic esoteric that stretches like Lululemon lycra but doesn't bust at the seams. It's epistatic gene pool soup. It's algebraic prose with more than one solution. Prose that's going to leave your tongue sizzling with a word. Pop rock narrative. Jolt cola twists. Funhouse folly narratively palatable. Atonal endings that leave you...

  • Sentimental Surrealist
    2019-02-24 00:51

    An envy-inducing collection, the sort where even failures like the frankly annoying experiment with voice "John Billy" (intended as a Gass tribute, but it comes off more as a Gass parody - DFW would become just as good in his own way at blending erudition with slang as Gass was, but with "John Billy" it all rings false) and the frustratingly preachy tone of "Westward the Course of the Empire Takes Its Way," which is a nice predecessor to Infinite Jest but shows us why we don't need to be metafictional about our metafiction, are at least interesting. God that was a ridiculous sentence. If this review was intended in the style of "Westward the Course of the Empire Takes Its Way," I'd comment on its excessive length or the fact that I reduce commentary on two of this book's stories to subordinate clauses when they probably deserve a fuller treatment, or comment on my proclivity for sentence-length parentheticals which might also be ridiculous but sure isn't going anywhere, but I'm in grad school and working, I don't have time for such shenanigans. The reason why this is envy-inducing isn't just because DFW's trying to do it all and either succeeding spectacularly or at least failing in novel and admirable ways, but because this collection was published when he was 27, which meant he wrote these stories before he was 27, which means holy shit. And yes, I realize there were probably a lot of lousy stories not included in this collection, but to have written nine stories this fucking good by the age of 27 is astonishing to me. I say nine and not ten because I don't remember a thing about "Say Never."So before I get too over-the-moon about early DFW, I'd at first like to acknowledge that these stories represent quantum leaps over the Broom of the System. Is that too untenable of a comparison, novels vs. short stories? Then let's find another way to put it: if you were to dig up the novel I wrote at 23 and publish it (please don't, I'd like to keep with but improve that concept), it would probably end up a lot like Broom, which is to say flabby, overdone in some places, underexposed in others, and a little goofy with the characters. With the difference being that there are some beautiful passages in Broom WELL beyond my writing ability at 23. Or now, with me at 24. Whereas I as an archetypical young writer in an MFA program couldn't come up with anything near as good as the best stories here. If I was writing this in the style of "Westward the Course of the Empire Takes its Way," I might interrupt and acknowledge that some might find my constant references to myself as a writer off-putting, but fuck that, back to the good stories. For instance, let's take my favorite, the brief and beautiful nugget "Everything is Green." For me, this is lump-in-the-throat writing, almost a prose poem in its remarkable sense of atmosphere and ethereal quality. It also showcases his skills with voice - some constructs, like "I cannot feel what to say" are syntactically odd on the page but seem like natural things we as people, who are decidedly less than eloquent in conversation, would say. The other flash-length piece, "Luckily the Accountant Representative Knew CPR," is also excellent. It's the earliest example I can think of where Wallace built an entire story around the simple accumulation of detail. Good shit.Most of the longer pieces here are also brilliant, making exceptions for the two noble failures and the one that fell out of my head. You get a trio of great stories that center around characters' relationships with the media; "Little Expressionless Animals" continues the noble tradition, begun by Coover and Barthelme, of writing a story centered around a game show; "Lyndon" deconstructs and reconstructs our image of Lyndon B. Johnson through a fictional male aide who had an affair with the president; "My Appearance" is a complex and shifty tale about irony, sincerity and Letterman. These are all super-prescient about DFW's discussions of TV in Infinite Jest and a few of his more famous nonfiction pieces, but they also stand on their own, and they'd still have some sort of following if Infinite Jest and the nonfiction hadn't turned out the way they did. If I was writing this in the style of "Westward the Course of the Empire Takes Its Way" I'd end up um well not really doing anything different because I don't see this is as an occasion for meta-commentary. And hey! The non-media-related stories are also really good! "Girl with Curious Hair" itself is probably my favorite of the collection, a brilliant spoof on Bret Easton Ellis and the whole brat pack thing (at a Keith Jarrett concert! His music is pretty! Although I blame him for the rise of new age music). Only unlike Ellis, DFW lends his characters a) actual affect and b) funny affect. The sociopathic hero basically talks like a '50s movie prep, so what you have is a bunch of violent thrill-seekers referred to as "a barrel of monkeys." Basically one of the great extended exercises in DFW's sense of humor. Where "Here and There," which chronicles the death of a relationship, is an exercise in his sense of form and voice. It's two overlapping conversations, sort of like if you took DeLillo's exchanges where no one really listens to each other and extended them into a short story. Not the most solid of DFW's collections, then, but the fact that it isn't as centralized thematically as the other two are gives it a nice smorgasboard feeling. If I was writing this in the style of "Westward the Course of the Empire Takes Its Way," I'd close this by thanking you for taking the time out to read such a long and fanboyish review and extol you to pretty-please hit the "like" button, but I'm not doing that, so instead I'll conclude here.

  • Outis
    2019-03-07 23:50

    Ho fatto una fatica immane a finire questa raccolta di racconti. Mi annoiava, non mi veniva voglia di continuarla, anzi cercavo delle scuse per evitare di leggerla. Non appena prendevo La ragazza dai capelli strani in manoSul treno: Potrei leggere, ma non mi va. Meglio ascoltare un po’ di musica e poi che bella giornata che è oggi, che carine le montagne in primavera, godiamoci il paesaggio…Nel tempo libero: Finalmente posso leggere un po’…però avrei proprio voglia di un'altra puntata di (serie tv a caso), vabbè leggerò staseraPrima di dormire: Dai, ho mezz’oretta per leggere, ehm, però sono parecchio stanca, meglio mettersi a dormire subitoE non è da me, per niente!Di chi è la colpa? D. F. Wallace è troppo intelligente per me (possibilissimo!) oppure come dice il buon Bukowski "An intellectual says a simple thing in a hard way. An artist says a hard thing in a simple way." (frase con cui mi trovo in parte d’accordo). Probabilmente la colpa non è di nessuno dei due. Semplicemente it’s not my cup of tea, visto che un certo tipo di letteratura contemporanea americana non riesco ad apprezzarla, mi sembra un po’ tutto fumo e poco arrosto, motivo per cui non ho il coraggio di iniziare un De Lillo. E chissà quando ritroverò il coraggio di leggere nuovamente D. F. Wallace, forse tra dieci anni. Le stelline sono 2 perché Piccoli animali senza espressione è un gioiellino. Qua e là ci sono stati dei pezzi di racconti che ho apprezzato ma, e mi dispiace perché Wallace è generalmente considerato un genio, non sono stati sufficienti a farmi apprezzare la raccolta in generale.

  • Liz
    2019-02-28 22:55

    uneven is the word. also "too clever by half" is a few more words. I actually really liked most of the stories here, but the ones I didn't like (John Billy, Westward the Course of Empire Takes its Way) were invariably the longer ones, so on a page by page basis I found it a bit whatever. there is a lot of metafiction stuff in this collection, which I am not so into. like, the longest story here (Westward...) is supposedly an extended satire of a postmodern short story by John Barth, Lost in the Funhouse, which I've never read. and the title story is a parody of Bret Easton Ellis et al. it's a pretty dead-on parody. but those stories are rather unpleasant and mean-spirited. in my opinion, DFW is not playing to his strengths when he's being all parodic and ironic and meta. the word that keeps coming up when people praise his writing is "humanity"; at his best he projects sincerity and compassion and makes you want to be like that too. I wish more of this book was like Here and There or Luckily the Accounts Representative Knew CPR, they felt...human, even when they were being clever. but even the longer crappier stories had some great passages; Westward...'s last third was gorgeous. apparently this was one of his first published books, which explains a lot. like Ambrose in Westward... would say, it has a certain "look-dad-no-hands" quality.

  • Rand
    2019-02-23 20:42

    The groundwork for later genius; worth buying for the sexy fun with LBJ.Many of these stories go in differing directions stylistically. You can hear the shortest one set to music here or hear it straight here

  • Junta
    2019-03-18 02:42

    David Foster Wallace is one of my favourite authors, but there's one thing about his writing that has occasionally irked or disappointed me: his writing when it involves race. In the cases with some other books (including The Pale King, where pretty much the only non-white character is a woman who, due to her complicated history 'back home', gives blowjobs to move up in the corporate world, and I think it was one of his essay collections where he writes about how he lectured a black student in a manner, which from my point of view, was cringe-inducing) I could dismiss them more as isolated incidents but after finishing this collection, I've been prompted to write about it.In the longest story of this collection, Westward the Course of Empire Takes its Way, which spans over a third of the book, I came upon the use of 'Oriental' instead of 'Asian' in referring to people, which is offensive in many contexts these days. However, the term 'Occidental' was also used to point to Caucasians, and the collection was published back in 1989, so it wasn't real evidence of Wallace being ignorant, racist, or both. However, it was the portrayal of 'Orientals' throughout the story which had my alarm bells ringing:A lone and disoriented Oriental's black bangs ride his forehead, fencelike. ... Here's that Oriental again, with the tattered black bangs, ascending at them. The Oriental's still alone. Sternberg ponders: how often do you see just one Oriental anyplace? They tend to move in packs.Mark could tell Sternberg how most Occidentals don't realize that Orientals do often appear in transit alone, do often pronounce liquid consonants at least as well as your average airport P.A. announcer. That their eyes aren't any smaller or wickedly slanted than our own: they just have a type of uncircumcised eyelid that reveals slightly less total eye. The eyes in Mark's healthy face appear vaguely oriental; they have that boxer-in-the-late-rounds puffiness, especially when he hasn't slept. But he's occidental as they come. ... The opposing escalator carries the Oriental up at them. Mark declines to meet the man's uncut eye.See these menacing oriental men enter a beauty salon where an occidental and male hairdresser is alone, putting receipts in order, soon to close. Menacingly they draw the shades and flip the window's sign over so its OPEN side faces Sternberg and the surprised hairdresser, who tries to explain that they don't do men, in this particular shop; one Oriental drawing a flicked stiletto, weltschmerzian end-lust aglitter in eyes far smaller than good old familiar occidental eyes, announcing, "We do"; and the revelation dawns on victim and viewer alike as "Hawaii Five-O" cuts to shots of an almost tidal-sized wave, a wave that conveys far better than realism the total disorder and -memberment taking place in that occidental Honolulu hair salon;J.D. Steelritter says goddamn slopehead Orientals. They're taking over the planet. It'll be either them or insects on top, at the end. And precious little difference either, he might add. He smashes some of the gnats that sit stoically on the jouncing dash. Smells at his fingers. They're all over the place, he says: fucking Orientals. Doing their calculus at age eight and working their blank twenty-hour days. Realizing their only strength is in numbers. He asks when was the last time anybody in his car even saw an Oriental alone, without a whole ant-farm of other Orientals around them. They travel in packs."I cannot believe these kids today," says J.D. "'Hawaii Five-O' is not political? We're talking about the same show? The show that ran from '65 to '73? That had helicopter imagery in every episode? Helicopters full of wooden-faced, purposeful white guys in the kinds of business suits capitalism's all about? White guys flying around in helicopters restoring order to this oriental island that can't seem to govern itself, that's overrun with violent and bad and indigenous Orientals? The cop show where all the head guys are white and all their lieutenants are good Orientals in suits, and they all cooperate and co-prosper shooting at the bad Orientals out of a helicopter?..."If this were fiction, the cataclysm that prevents the six people in DeHaven's homemade car from ever actually getting to the promised Reunion in Collision would be a collision. DeHaven, out of a sullenly distracting attraction to the terse minimal girl beside him, or out of some timelessly Greek hostility toward his father riding shotgun with his big wet cigar, would close his eyes and put the accelerator to the floor at the very most verdant and obscure rural Illinois intersection - say, 2000N and 2000W - and collide three-way with the Oriental-crammed Chrysler and the foreign flashy car full of the big old farmer's corn-fed children. The Orientals, being expendable through sheer numbers, would be toast. The two cars full of shaken but unharmed Occidentals would end up somehow on top of each other, facing opposed directions, windshields mated like two hypoteni come together to blossom a square of chassis and crazily spinning wheels. Our six and their six would sit there, upside-down, looking at one another through patented unbreakable glass, their faces illuminated against the darkness of approaching rain by the flaming toaster of a flaming Chrysler.To be fair, Wallace writes in a way that puts some distance between himself and some of these 'discriminatory' lines on Asians, as if he wants to profess that he knows how racists think, but he definitely isn't one himself. That he sees both sides of the story - of the racist, and one who isn't racist. But what about the side of the racially discriminated? At the end of the day, what was the point of including all these passages? As a person of Asian descent, I was bothered, thinking it's a shame even Wallace, who was acclaimed as 'having that ability to go into another person's shoes', can include all these passages in one story. (Edit: Fionnuala pointed out in the comment section how it could all be satire, and there is a strong case for it; while reading the story, I think I was subconsciously weighing up whether it could all be satire, and my verdict was that he's on thin ice. After further reflection, I'm still not 100% sure, which might just be a good reason to evaluate the satire as done well. So, I have my seeds of doubt in terms of his covert racism even within the satire, but I still love him.) J.D. Steelritter, like many older adults, is kind of a bigot. Mark Nechtr, like most young people in this awkward age, is NOT. But his aracism derives, he'd admit, from reasons that are totally self-interested. If all blacks are great dancers and athletes, and all Orientals are smart and identical and industrious, and all Jews are great makers of money and literature, wielders of a clout born of cohesion, and all Latins great lovers and stiletto-wielders and slippers-past-borders - well then gee, what does that make all plain old American WASPS? What one great feature, for the racist, brings us whitebreads together under the solid roof of a stereotype? Nothing. A nameless faceless Great White Male.If he did not know the textbook answer to this, it is visible in the question.February 22, 2018Wallace's second book after The Broom of the System and his first short story collection, I enjoyed this book like all of his others, with my favourite pieces being Here and There and My Appearance.

  • Diletta
    2019-03-07 01:55

    Cerebrale, sempre nella testa di chi legge.

  • Nate
    2019-03-22 03:33

    On CelebrityWhat nearly the whole collection revolves around. The fetishizing and deifying of celebrity grows every year in America. It wasn’t new in the late 80s, it’s not yet cliché here in 2013. But it’s not just the John Lord’s we’re idly fascinated with. It’s the Jeopardy champions. It’s the local football stars whose lives are actually sad and desolate as the prairie that surrounds them. To be a celebrity is a perceived escape from loneliness. On LonelinessI haven’t made it through (I have the audiobook, which probably has a great effect on it) Broom of the System, but this book may have been the first very conscious effort by Dave to explicitly name the panic his own authorial mind always had with Loneliness. From Westward, “We all have our little solipsistic delusions, ghastly intuitions of utter singularity: that we are the only one in the house who ever fills the ice-cube tray, who unloads the clean dishwasher, who occasionally pees in the shower, whose eyelid twitches on first dates; that only we take casualness terribly seriously; that only we fashion supplication into courtesy; that only we hear the whiny pathos in a dog’s yawn, the timeless sigh in the opening of the hermetically-sealed jar, the splattered laugh in the grying egg, the minor-D lament in the vacuum’s scream; that only we feel the panic at sunset the rookie kindergartner feels at his mother’s retreat.” And by being celebrity the other characters might think that this is how you keep attention on you permanently. Whispers and memories of you become part of the air. Here and ThereAn early precursor to the Brief Interviews. Dialogue traded back and forth but never between the two people it needs to be between. But there’s a callow youth to it. There’s actual obliviousness and a sheer un-understanding. In B.I. the subjects are strategic in everything. Everything is a feigned act, but here Reader sees characters move without reassurances, in the awkward way that the world indeed does move, blind to the future, afraid to presume, plan, strategize anything. WestwardFor whom is the postmodernism post? Perhaps for the late-comers, those born in the wrong time that could not expatriate themselves to Paris. For David Wallace it is an island of immense loneliness and solitude. Postmodernism itself eschews and snorts at the idea of the Real, but for Dave it is a very real and haunting place that houses his fathers. But children can’t stay in the house of their parents forever. A man must leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife (reader) so that the two become one flesh. But how do they become one, when their fathers Mark’d work was the explication that the reader and the text are separate? Dave was “at that certain age” and “of a pious enough motive” to pursue such a task. And he seems to be battling with a kind of stiff ideology from his forefathers. Because what does a literary school (house?) matter—its dogmas and sacred ideologies—if it can’t tell a good story? And how many stories must the author tell within the story to get the reader sufficiently lost in his text, not knowing where his fingertips and nerve endings end and where the walls of the funhouse begin? And especially how is it that this kind of writing where hands meld into walls isn’t seen as a kind of look-Dad-no-hands kind of writing? And how does Dave the author not come out of the funhouse of Westward not looking like Jeremiah prophesying the end of days against prophets who have been prophesying the end of days, with hair wild and askew, face distorted and rough as though he were speaking with God. What sackcloth can he wear to show his penitence? Shades of everything Wallace did in the next decade abound. Awareness of his own awareness (both in author and character), and but so and then and such etc etc. starting sentences out with something between a colloquial tongue and a never-starting series of conjunctions, characters obsessed with looking coolly bored and unaffected, yet tormented inside, intrusive asides that in a polite way try to be very uninstrusive which really just makes the whole thing worse. In fact Reader gets the sense that perhaps Dave was a little too neurotic about this fear of postmodern-induced solipsism. Almost in the way that perhaps Dave thought about this way more and the fact that he thought about it way more than the rest of us was what he was actually trying to game himself out of. Which begs the question of this one Reader, for whom is postmodern, modern? Perhaps for loners, those who understand history only in the context of the previous generation but no further. Loneliness, solipsism are not modern. They are part of the human condition that expands beyond modernism. The cultural context of loneliness is how we consume it, in this postmodern postindustrial age, but it gets swallowed either way…