Brief Interviews with Hideous Men: Stories by David Foster Wallace

David Foster Wallace is clearly an accomplished and, at times, brilliant writer. If it were only a matter of judging his playfulness, innovation, and enthusiasm-sheer energy-it would be hard to imagine him scoring higher. For example, one of his conceits, Datum Centurio, features a hard copy version of a future (2096) dictionary which defines “date.” In Brief Interviews with Hideous Men (Little, Brown and Company, 288 pages) the innovative “story” mimics the complete typographical layout of a real dictionary and notes to the effect that with “compatible hardware” (e.g., a neural plug) we could get the entire “pentasensory” (i.e., virtual reality) illustrative support. The dictionary definition traces the ancestral origins of date to earlier in the century (i.e., our time) when the term was Continue reading

The Names by Don DeLillo

DeLillo surely kept a journal while living in Athens and visiting various places in the Middle East and India. He noted scenes, described the climate and vegetation, philosophized on the locals then published his journal as the novel, The Names (Vintage, 352 pages), after he added a “plot” about a cult that murderers people for the completely uninteresting reason that their initials match the initials of the place name in which they are murdered. DeLillo also added the equally uninteresting denouement in which it isdiscovered that the narrator, who has been described as a Continue reading

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss

Nicole Krauss’s astonishing novel The History of Love (W. W. Norton & Company 252 pages), about a manuscript that survives the Holocaust, a flood, broken friendships, a plagiarist, misunderstanding, and obscurity has all the heart and intelligence of the best fiction being published today. Elderly Leo Gursky is afraid of dying unnoticed, and he plans his days so that people will see him and remember him. Among other schemes, he makes a scene in Starbucks and poses nude for a drawing class. Leo wasn’t always this lonely. Decades before, in a small town that was then part of Poland, he fell in love with a girl named Alma. He wrote a book Continue reading