David Foster Wallace: Brief Interviews with Hideous Men
In this book, David Foster Wallace (DFW) offers us a collection of short stories and interviews conducted with men who share a deep-rooted sense of alienation, sexual issues and psychological malaises. The questions of the interviews are omitted, only to be referred to as Q. at the beginning of each answer. With a cynical and smart style, the author delves into the deranged minds of these supposedly hideous men, stripping down all their insecurities and bringing to light remnants of a troubled childhood for some. He astutely succeeds at titillating the reader with an honest rendition of the men’s interior dilemmas while flirting with social norms, feminist and sexual problematic opinions and boundaries. His use of language is very reminiscent of Bernhard, repeating words and expressions excessively to underline emotional turmoil, and transmit a sentiment of nuisance to the reader.
From a personal point of view, I did not find the interviewed men as hideous nor repulsive, rather intriguing. All of them had eccentric views on love and sex, some of them were funny, others were pathetic and caricatural, but they all shared a suffering that the author wanted to make the reader feel in every inch of his being. Personally, my favorite interview was “The Depressed Person” who, by the way, is a woman. I found that the patient was very smart and was able to clinically describe her psychological condition from an objective point of view. It was almost as if she was an outside observer of herself, highly conscious of what dwells inside her mind. I have to say though that not all interviews were as good, some of them were rather boring, and I forced myself to finish them or try to decipher what the author wanted to say. But all in all, I was very drawn to DFW’s prose and the issues he chooses to tackle. This book in particular is a very humane description of otherwise misunderstood men, and although DFW did not really bring anything new to the table, given that the majority of the issues dealt with love, sex and relationships, I found that he was reaching out to the reader, something I hadn’t felt from other writers for a long time now.
Next challenge: Infinite Jest. Let’s see how that one goes.