Friday, September 10, 2010

Brief Interviews With Hideous Men by David Foster Wallace

Brief Interviews With Hideous Men is a set of vignettes told from the male viewpoint.  Some are quite short, while others are much more lengthy.  Not for the faint-hearted, there is lots of talk about sex and some raunchy language.

My favorite tale was told by a man who picked up a woman for casual sex and ended up being moved by her life story.  Hitchhiking, she was picked up by a serial sex offender/murderer, and managed to save her own life by talking the man out of his need to kill her by empathizing with him.  The man starts out by regarding the woman lightly, just another plaything, but her story makes him realise that she has depth and is someone to be taken seriously.

Another favorite is the retelling of that first time on the high diving board (not that many pools still have these due to insurance concerns).  Wallace captures the moment completely, using every sense to vividly place the reader out there on the board as they smell, see, hear everything the diver does.  No detail is too small for Wallace to remember and comment on.

The writing is gorgeous even when the topics are disturbing.  I can't think of an author who writes more concretely about the details of an event.  This is definately not a book that feminists will applaud; the men here are brazen, outspoken and often churlish.  But the reader will not soon forget these stories.  This book is recommended for readers who like to dip into books and read one or two stories at a time.

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