Review: Brief Interviews With Hideous Men by David Foster Wallace

Oh gosh, what to say about this book. Well, this is my first David Foster Wallace book. I’ve known people who think he’s brilliant and then I’ve also talked to people who are not so fond of him. I’m not going to form an opinion off of one book, though.

Brief Interviews had its moment of brilliance for me. Some of the stories, and sometimes just parts of stories, really worked for me. The collection was meant to explore the difficulties men and women have when it comes to communicating and all the sexual frustrations that can stem from there. But it never took the issue too seriously, at least not on the surface.

I got the feeling that while Wallace is writing these stories to highlight or make fun of those frustrating and confusing interactions that take place between men and women, he wasn’t doing it just to make light of the issue. It seemed to me it was more to point out the sheer ridiculousness of these interactions. To try and condemn this behavior, make us feel foolish for it, to try and set us on the path of not being a bunch of school children.

Is there a difference between the way men and women communicate? Sure. But there are better and healthier ways of handling it than constantly bitching to our friends or therapists (another topic that plays a heavy roll in the book). There’s a lot that will need to be worked on to get over this weird, flirtatious, coy, manipulative way we all seem to have taken up when dealing with the opposite sex. Things like how men and society view women, how women view themselves, and at a basic level, good communication skills.

Alright, feel like I went off a bit there. Anyway, it wasn’t my favorite read, but it was interesting and made me think about a lot of different things, even if that maybe wasn’t the “author’s point.” But the author doesn’t get to decide how a reader reacts to their work.



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