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2011.07.28

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#ohwowyouguys

This makes me feel like I REALLY need to read The Pale King. I probably would have snapped it up by now, but I'm so backed up on comics, I haven't ready any prose books in quite a long time. But damn, I'll have to get to this, and try not to cry too hard when I do read it.

Great analysis of Wallace and his stuff, by the way. I don't do much literary criticism, and reading this reminds me of why, since you guys have some great insights and tease a lot of depth out of the style, which is a lot harder than me saying that I like the way lines are drawn, which is my usual critical approach. I will say that I get the argument that Wallace can be boring, since he goes into such incredible detail with his neverending sentences that examine every aspect of every feeling that he or his characters have when describing something, but I find it exhilarating, a balletic performance that he managed to do over and over again, making it look easy while actually being impossible to duplicate.

Um, yeah, I think I'm going to have to go pull out my copy of Infinite Jest or Brief Interviews With Hideous Men and wallow in that stuff for a while now. In the meantime, here's a funny Wallace-related Onion article: http://www.theonion.com/articles/girlfriend-stops-reading-david-foster-wallace-brea,76/

Reading this made me realize how much my fallback list of "favorite authors" is based as much on a generational pose as it is on the pleasure I get from the actual books. I tend to list Wallace in my Top 10, but do I really like his novels? I do not. I like a few short stories and a LOT of his essays.

His writing about writing makes me think of him as a better fiction writer than he actually is, but he was just never able to balance his precision with his ambition. I picture him wearing a tuxedo made of fireworks, walking carefully along a line he has drawn on a sidewalk, without looking up to see where he is.

But I rarely read novels anymore anyway, so I am probably getting dumber by the minute when it comes to long-form prose narrative.

Never cared much for Wallace - a friend of mine aggressively gifted me "The Girl With Curious Hair" back in college and I thought it was some of the most amateurish shit I'd read in ages, and in subsequent encounters with Wallace I've always felt like he's trying too hard to seem clever - but this was a good talk, at least. It didn't make me want to read The Pale King, but it left me feeling like I'd be better able to articulate my aversion to reading The Pale King in the future.

I haven't read the Pale King-- but I went to a ... I went to a reading of it put on by television sitcom actors and also Henry Rollins (insert joke about Los Angeles here). Not every section was read, but the "nicest boy in the world" story (read by the dad from How I Met Your Mother, if I recall correctly) and the conversation between the Aspergers-y tax man and the hot tax lady waiting for her husband, those two both made for an especially fine evening.

I just don't know if I can do the book though-- a debate's been had, and is ongoing, for all the reasons referenced hereinabove. It just feels like an "invasion" to see his unfinished work, but I'm not... not convinced that's entirely sensible. The "this was unfinished" thing, too-- I don't know that I could get rid of that. (Even though I've wound up reading some terrible genre novels at the moment-- oh, the hype on Ross McDonald was all wrong! All wrong!)

(Relevant to nothing: my favorite stretch of Wallace isn't based on merit, but I read the stretch of Broom of the System where the main character goes back to his alma mater and wanders the campus, shortly after graduating college myself, so I've always had an affection for that...)

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