Have you read that guy? Oh my gosh. He's good. Was good. If you didn't know, he committed suicide in September of 2008, which makes it a little awkward when he's writing about depression and suicide. But he did it so well. And with levity, and it works, it makes you smile, you can't help it.
(And if you think that's not the sort of thing that should make you smile, then you should not read this guy. Because he's one of those people, like Mel Brooks or Trey Parker, who has shown us that anything can be funny. *Anything*. I mean, without these people we would never have laughed at the Holocaust or AIDS or self-annihilation by microwave oven. And that would have been a shame.)
Early last year I read *Infinite Jest* and it changed my life. I said, Yes, this is it, this is brilliant, this is the kind of book I've been looking for my entire life. And then I went on with my life and basically forgot about that hefty novel (it's 1100 pages). Then I recently picked up *Brief Interviews with Hideous Men* and I remembered, Oh yeah, this guy exists, or existed not so long ago, David Foster Wallace, and he was a genius.
In case you're wondering, Brief Interviews is a collection of short stories, and the title comes from these fictional interviews that are kind of evenly spaced throughout the book. You don't know what the questions are, but the interviewees are all misogynists. I know, hilarious, right?
Here's an excerpt, where two graduate students are being interviewed. Their names are K--- and E---, and they are responding to the same question:
K--- 'What does today's woman want. That's the big one.'
E--- 'I agree. It's the big one all right. It's the what-do-you-call...'
K--- 'Or put another way, what do today's women *think* they want versus what do they really deep down *want*.'
E--- 'Or what do they think they're *supposed* to want.'
And you can imagine what two over-educated, theory-soaked misogynists can tell you about what women *really*, *deep down* want.
Anyway, it's a great book, and I recommend it as an intro to DFW if you're not quite up for Infinite Jest. Also, here's a great essay I found about Wallace at The Point Magazine: http://thepointmag.com/death1.html.
[And yes, I'm one of those people who uses the words "genius" and "brilliant" a bit lightly. Which is one way to divide the world. Those who do and those who don't. The way you might categorize carbonated beverage fans as Coke-lovers or Pepsi-lovers; taxonomical biologists as lumpers or splitters; or physicists as strict-Copenhagen-ers or non-strict-Copenhagen-ers.]