This book is a post-postmodern book of short stories with a very stylistically intrusive author. I loved it because occasionally David Foster Wallace will describe some emotion or experience in such direct, perfect language that I can barely stand it. When he stops playing with form and function and stops winking and nodding at his content, he is a master of recreating the human experience in fresh words. I recognized myself in his characters and it was brilliant. HOWEVER! His style is not for everyone.
I give the book 5 stars because A) it contains occasionally nuggets of gold and B) it's a necessary read if you are a fan of / student of modern literature.
David Foster Wallace's Brief Interviews with Hideous Men is a compilation of vignettes/interviews told entirely from the male point of view. And yes, these men are truly hideous! The cast of male narrators range from the garden variety exploitative womanizer/woman-hater, to the seriously deranged, to the truly frightening!
Each story/interview is compelling in the same way that rubberneckers are drawn to vehicular accidents: shock and horror are mixed with fascination. Women readers in particular will appreciate Wallace's laser penetration into the dark recesses of men's souls. One interviewee calls his deformed arm âthe assetâ because he uses it to manipulative women into sleeping with him. Another male narrator brags about sexually exploiting a hysterical jilted woman. Several stories are detailed rants from men who hate women.
While the interviewees/narrators are various degrees of repugnant the stories themselves, however, are exquisitely crafted with layers upon layers of details. For example, one story is a lengthy exposition on diving that is also about suicide. Wallace's craftsmanship is truly impressive!
Brief Interviews with Hideous Men is a fascinating, albeit disturbing, examination of the dark side of the male psyche.
Hachette Audio; Unabridged edition (September 8, 2009)
Advance Review Copy Provided Courtesy of the Publisher.
Of DFW's books of short stories which I have read, I consider this one closest to Infinite Jest in style and tone. There are also hints of The Broom of the System here.
If you have not read any Wallace and are looking for a good introduction that will also give you a taste (albeit not an exact taste, because none of his books are exactly similar; he was always growing as a writer) of what to expect from his magnum opus, then this is a great choice.
Wallace's style is different in many of his short story collections: for example, The Girl with the Curious Hair and Oblivion, while both excellent, did not prepare me for Infinite Jest. I read Infinite Jest before Brief Interviews and loved it; and now, I have NOT been disappointed by Brief Interviews With Hideous Men.
I don't like books that make me feel bad or horribly bored. The stories in here are all obnoxious humans, none with names, just "the mother, the depressed person, the father" etc, so you don't even have characters to dislike.
Despite the title, these stories are anything but brief. Most...no, all the stories, were tedious to read. They are just pages and pages and pages, sometimes saying almost the same thing and not furthering the story, or are long and rambling going off in different directions and hard to follow.
Why not one star, then? I don't really know. My best answer to why I gave this 2 stars is because I think the author did what he set out to do, which is point out horrible humanity. Since he seemed to have his own point and agenda, I can't give it 1 star for not even being a book. I'll give it 2 stars, but grudgingly.