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Brief Interviews With Hideous Men Paperback – 18 Jan 2001

4.1 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus; New Ed edition (18 Jan. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 034911188X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349111889
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 16,982 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

David Foster Wallace is every other writer's nightmare; not only is he depressingly young (34), superbly prolific (six books so far) and notably gifted (at least three major literary prizes to date), he's also good-looking and, so they say, charming. Now this Midwestern wunderkind has added to his ever-growing reputation by bringing out a short-story collection which, while it has its flaws (too intellectual in places, somewhat over-written in others), is still a few streets ahead of the competition in its versatility, panache and verbal ebullience.

The varying length of the stories in Brief Interviews with Hideous Men indicate the range of Wallace's writing. Some, like the funny/dark "Death Is Not The End", about a gifted American writer (ha) lounging by his pool in suspended space-time, are no more than two pages long. Others are just paragraphs. By contrast, the title story is a 100-page-long suite of "conversations" with a series of repellent yet pitiable men given to lyrically reminiscing about "the sort of glorious girl whose kiss tastes of liquor when she's had no liquor to drink". The pay-off is that this girl might have been raped and murdered by one of the "hideous men" in question.

Wallace's prose-style is as various as the length, tone and subject matter. Sometime he's like Will Self in his wordy self-confidence. Other times he's as coarsely comedic as Irvine Welsh ("the rawness and tenderness and spanked pink head of his thingie"). Still other times, like in the deft and amusing parody of dictionary-speak, Datum Centurio, the only possible comparison is with a talkative James Joyce after two bottles of champagne. --Sean Thomas --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

His skills as a literary innovator are immense...this is an entertaining and dazzlingly innovative work...a dizzying gallop actoss the wild frontier of contemporary fiction. (DAILY TELEGRAPH)

Endlessly inventive (EVENING STANDARD)

Exceptionally clever (INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY)

As clever and intriguing as Wallace's past work...these strong, sad voices ring powerfully clear (The Time)

Wallace's talent is such that you can't help wondering: how good can he get? (Time Out)

Contains longish stretches of genius (Geoff Nicholson Independent)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on 17 Mar. 2001
Format: Paperback
Following Jest was, to me,a nearly insurmountable task. However, DFW does a more than amazing job. The writing in this book is funny and perfectly serious all at once. Particularly the Brief Interviews sections-they had me laughing out loud and nearly resenting my laughter. if you've never read DFW before this is a good place to start. You get him in story-length dosages and this collection is, in fact, a good precursor to reading Jest, despite the fact that it was published years after.He really takes the modern concept of the story further than nearly anyone I've ever read. You'll enjoy this. Trust me.
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Format: Paperback
I cannot think of any other current writer more in touch with the spirit of the times than Wallace. He's most certainly of the cerebral type (equally adept at neurocognitive science and post-post-whatever literary theory), and the undisputed master of hard-tech US english. "Brief Interviews..." is merciless in its portrayal of the human condition - and it is sometimes difficult to discern whether your laughter is due to pure literary pleasure, or desperate self-defense in the face of a truth too nasty to bear. Wallace is basically tracking and describing the ongoing redistribution of the meaning of "being human", and anyone even remotely interested in which direction we are all headed should check out his books. At times brutal and bleak - but not without a certain tender regard for the fragile creatures lost in the information-saturated cultural wastelands of high modernity.
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Format: Hardcover
Another collection of short stories from Wallace, although to my mind the majority of the pieces contained within this book are observations rather than actual stories. This is a book that at its best is enthralling and informs and entertains in equal measure, the variety and style of the writing bring alive a lot of the characters contained within.
The interviews themselves reveal a range of characters familiar to most of us and are witty and well observed. Wallace has the ability to convey ideas and situations concisely, an ability that he exploits on a regular basis in these pages. His mode of expression is a bit more hit and miss however, when it works (The Interviews, The Depressed Person, Adult World) it adds to the quality of the writing but the flowery wordplay of chapters such as Church Made With Hands comes across as slightly pretentious.
I'd put this down as the best of Wallace's three short story/essay books, a book which, with a couple of omissions, would have been perfect.
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Format: Paperback
Intelligent, cerebral and darkly comic; this book is all these things. David Foster Wallace's collection of shorts (some very short) will shock and amaze, but is for the commited only.
Wallace reaches almost Joycean levels of impenetrability from time to time, and is from the "hurts so much let's pretend it's funny" school of comedy. Although, I can't quite think of a moment while reading the book when I laughed, rather than just raising a wry eyebrow.
This is excellent stuff, and should be read - just don't expect to (makes reflexive air quote gesture) "enjoy" it in the traditional sense.
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Format: Hardcover
[1] a writer i find to be absolutely brilliant but somewhat {quote/unquote} hit or miss (as it were) w/r/t some of his more recent works (A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again comes to mind), the most likely explanation being that i just don't {finger flex} get them.
[2] Brief Interviews With Hideous Men
[3] brilliant. his use of the word "shiteater" on page 46 (a) is literary prefection (no hyperbole employed). i laughed so hard during some of these stories ... and scratched my head through others (see CHURCH NOT MADE WITH HANDS).
(a) Footnote 5 of THE DEPRESSED PERSON (for anyone reading the paperback)
[4] it was nice to see a departure from all of the medical terminology that overwhelmes (in my opinion) Infinate Jest (i believe DFW gives a hint as to what effect his copious use of pedantic medical jargon is supposed to produce somewhere in Brief Interviews - in any case he uses it for a reason).
[5] full of some pretty scary stories (see SUCIDE AS A SORT OF PRESENT). DFW has been criticized for self-referencing (read OCTET) but i found it to be really helpful - particularly if what he [dfw] was writing was what was actually going through his [dfws] mind - plus it confirmed my fear that every sentence he [dfw] writes could be a story in itself in terms of being a small part of the reticulate of sentences that make up each story.
[6] highlights were THE DEPRESSED PERSON, Datum Centurio, (all of the POROUSNESS OF CERTAIN BORDERS stories), and OCTET (among others.. like the last BRIEF INTERVIEW).
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
How does he do it? David Foster Wallace was literary innovator par excellence, but it's not tricksnand traps and attempts to be clever. These devices are just increasingly sophisticated weapons to deliver the truth im ways that will double you over when you flinch and wince each time you recognize the monster. The truth.
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Format: Hardcover
I had been eagerly waiting for this book to come out. I loved "A Supposedly.." and enjoyed "Broom" and parts of "Infinite." While there were a couple entertaining and heartfelt stories most were boring to intolerable. For the people who love his pedantic word-play, this won't disappoint. But for me, the endless footnotes, the sometimes unecessary use of arcane language and frustrating syntax made this unreadable at times. The schtick is getting old for me, which is a shame because I generally love his heart and what he has to say about society. His themes and ideas in all of his books resonate deeply with me as these are the same things that I worry and think about but I find the way he goes about saying them to take away from the power of his thoughts. It's similar to a band that has great songs but the album is drowned in overproduction and you miss out on the magic that was underneath. I know, "the medium is the message" and you can't separate what you say from how you say it, and I'm sure he feels that the way he says it is just as important as "what" he is trying to say. But some of this stuff is just plain intellectual dorkery.
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