Brief Interviews with Hideous Men

I have always loved the title of David Foster Wallace's book of short stories that was published in 1999. It just clicks. You know instantly these stories will twist your stomach into knots.

The pile-up of news about sexual harassment, misconduct, and assault has brought this book back to my mind again. One only has to read the title to understand this nearly 20-year-old book contains commentary on today's cultural climate. What is old is new again, as the saying goes.

I haven't opened this book up in 10 years. I picked it up today and one of the first stories that caught my attention was about someone having a memory of their father taunting and bullying them with his genitals. That short story is called "Signifying Nothing." David Foster Wallace is a master of irony. He somehow manages to make this title truthful while belying the psychological rage the narrator expresses over the father's response to being confronted about the incident.

John Krasinski directed a film adaptation of the book that came out in 2009. We don't have that in the ICPL collection anymore, but it's available through Interlibrary Loan. I recommend the film version for those who can't make it through Wallace's post-modern rambling and non-linear style.

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