Brief Interviews With Hideous Men Paperback – 18 Jan 2001
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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.
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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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
 Brief Interviews With Hideous Men
 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)
 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).
 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.
 highlights were THE DEPRESSED PERSON, Datum Centurio, (all of the POROUSNESS OF CERTAIN BORDERS stories), and OCTET (among others.. like the last BRIEF INTERVIEW).
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellent book. Great writing. Brilliant ideas. You need a good day to yourself to really get into it.Published 9 months ago by Team Churros
I absolutely fell in love with this book! It is accurate to the point where it gets painful to read, but you can't actually stop because it says exactly what you were afraid to... Read morePublished 22 months ago by Neria Zerlendi
Mr Wallace died too soon. This book is utterly awesome. Octet, Brief interviews with hideous men (The man with the gammy arm) OMG you can't put this book down. Read morePublished on 30 Mar. 2014 by Miss Unique
Got this as a present for someone and they loved it! Would recommend. Good value for money, worth it all the way.Published on 27 Aug. 2013 by Jennifer
A very stimulating author. He has an amazing original and innovative style which also manages to be really very humorous.Published on 30 Dec. 2012 by M. Wright
I often find myself marveling at DFW's intelligence, his self-confidence and composure. This collection sustains those instincts and my admiration of his work.Published on 27 July 2011 by Roland Boland