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Brief Interviews with Hideous Men

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  15,729 ratings  ·  1,185 reviews
In his startling and singular new short story collection, David Foster Wallace nudges at the boundaries of fiction with inimitable wit and seductive intelligence. Venturing inside minds and landscapes that are at once recognisable and utterly strange, these stories reaffirm Wallace's reputation as one of his generation's pre-eminent talents, expanding our ides and pleasure ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published April 1st 2000 by Abacus (first published October 1st 1997)
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David C. I just finished reading this book about three weeks ago, and read this entire story again to answer your question.

I'm of the opinion that the closing…more
I just finished reading this book about three weeks ago, and read this entire story again to answer your question.

I'm of the opinion that the closing 'hello' is a greeting, but not from the boy to what he is entering, but the opposite: a greeting from the world to the boy, ans in 'welcome.' The boy is changing into a man and the world is greeting him. I don't know if there is any way for you to capture this nuance with yet a third word, but even in English, it's something that has to be gathered from the context, so if you have to chose between the two my vote would be for the former.(less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Stephen M
A Brief Word on the Famous Interview #20

I'm here to air my total ambivalence after having read the final interview (second to last story in the collection) and not knowing what at all to make of the story. Yes, it is very well written and DFW had certainly mastered the interview style by this point in the book. The way that the Hideous Men speak in each of the interviews is quite natural and sounds true from the stories that I've heard many guys tell w/r/t women, sexual encounters etc. And it is

Recommended for: DFW fans, ppl who want to expand their vocabulary & their mind.
Shelf: Postmodernism,metafiction,American writer,short stories.

I have many DFW works on my shelf but i picked this particular book up as the cover really grabbed my attention: the male face; covered in burlap sack,reminded me of the Phantom from 'The Phantom of the Opera', but unlike the tortured,homicidal,musical genius whose passion,angelic voice & sad past,made him a tragic character, hence,easy to feel co
Franco  Santos
Tiene relatos excelentes y otros que son mera tentativa posmodernista efectista. En general, me gustó, en especial La persona deprimida (brillante de principio a fin), El suicidio como una especie de regalo (oscuro y muy poderoso) y todas las Entrevistas breves con hombres repulsivos (exceptuando la última: soporífera).

Tengo que agregar que de esta novela es muy improbable salir sin haber aprendido algo nuevo, o al menos sin conocerse mejor a uno mismo. El intelecto de Wallace es palpable en cad
Originally posted this on way back in 1999:

In all the reviews I read of David Foster Wallace’s recently published “Brief Interviews with Hideous Men,” I haven’t read a discussion of generosity. (My motivation for searching through the articles is simple: I wanted a reviewer to validate my thoughts, and if none did, I wanted to express this idea of generosity and make it accessible to, like, set everything straight.) Reviewers of Mr. Wallace’s latest book often mention “sex” and “ali
Sentimental Surrealist
David Foster Wallace may be my favorite author, but I have to admit he had his shortcomings: uneven short fiction. He never wrote a collection of short stories that has affected me on the same level as Infinite Jest or Consider the Lobster and Other Essays, although this one is his strongest to date. His main problem was that a few of his stories seem more exercises in cleverness than anything else: here, we have the infamous "Tri-Stan: I Sold Sissee Nar to Ecko," an ill-advised attempt to give ...more
The story 'Forver Overhead' made me realize the one thing that I appreciate most about DFW. Much of his writing is executed with such exquisite, painstaking detail that it not only causes me to visualize the scenario more clearly, but often at the same time a particular scene will make me recall memories that were long ago misplaced. This story is about a thirteen-year-old boy who works up the courage to tackle that youthful right of passage of going off of the high dive for the first time. The ...more
mark monday
a great introduction to the author, particularly for those readers who quiver in fear at the idea of Infinite Jest and A Supposedly Fun Thing. the language is unsurprisingly brilliant, the ideas at times playful and at other times fairly heavy, and the various portraits fascinating and often repulsive. wonderfully repulsive! men who engage in misandry are often interestingly self-flagellating yet defensive, and wallace is no exception. perhaps the only drawbacks are some forced jokiness and the ...more
Tracy Reilly
I have to admit. I, on a whim, just googled "David Foster Wallace" and "autism", just to see if anyone else ever thought what I'm thinking. I hadn't researched or known a thing about him otherwise, other than his suicide.

I did find something. Lots of things, plus speeches, interviews, etc. Some reinforced the idea, some did not.

One thing for sure, the autism thing can't possibly sum up everything that is interesting about David Foster Wallace and his writings, or what I know of them so far. And,
Sometimes it's really hard to follow but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume I'm just not at that level... An example of this is: "Datum Centurio", "Church Not Made With Hands" which I read at least 5 times and still felt like I only got the gist of it, if any or "Tri-Stan: I Sold Sissee Nar To Ecko" this one I tried re-reading but no luck... but "Suicide as a Sort of Present" is just crystal clear!
Of DFW's three short story collections, this is the one I enjoy the least. It's certainly his most thematically coherent collection, but perhaps that's part of my problem with it. Though the stories are almost unbelievably well-written and ingenious (this is DFW, after all), many of them either have this aura of impersonality about them or (in the case of the monologues, of which there are many) they are so insularly personal as to feel claustrophobic.

"The Depressed Person," for instance, suffe
There's a lot of re-readibility for me in these stories.
My favorites:
"A Radically Condensed History of Postindustrial Life"
"Death Is Not the End"
"Forever Overhead"
"Church Not Made w/ Hands"
"Brief Interview #20"

Common Themes: Loneliness and a high amount of self consciousness and consciousness about self-consciousness. A lot of this feels like Wallace's penultimate attempt at trying to push literature beyond postmodern or trying to understand whatever it is that comes after postmo
Well, if I take the last part of "my review / what I learned from this book" seriously, I'd need to say that I learned to not give away anything for free, but rather put an arbitrary price on the item if I wanted to actually get rid of said item. That's what I learned from The Devil is a Busy Man.

I learned that putting a "Q." without actually typing the questions and then only giving the reader the answer to said question is a pretty good gimmick. I learned that by reading several of the Brief
Sono raccontini brevi in cui le nevrosi dei personaggi sono narrate senza distanza né supponenza, ma con quella che chiamerei un'ironia partecipativa. Personaggi patetici, nell'accezione che DFW stesso dà a quest'aggettivo, lui direbbe patetici tra virgolette: patetico , cioè, è l'effetto di meccanismo autodifensivo che la persona depressa usa per proteggersi da possibili giudizi negativi . Più che patetici sono infelici, più che schifosi sono grotteschi. Una satira dell'infelicità, la definisce ...more

The penultimate chapter- the final interview- is one of the most powerful things I've ever read. Full stop.
Stephanie Kelley
Zadie Smith talked about this book at DFW's NYU memorial service in October 2009:

"'Brief Interviews With Hideous Men' was an ironic book about misogyny. Reading it was like being trapped in a room with ironic misogynists on speed, or something like that."


"To me, reading Brief Interviews wasn't at all like being trapped. It was like being in church. And the important word wasn't 'irony' but 'gift'. Dave was clever about gifts: our inability to give freely or accept what is freely given."

Here's where I need an extra half star. This book contains far more brilliance than many I've rated four stars, but I can't quite get comfortable with five (though I may still change my mind).

I really liked this collection. It's cohesive and (largely) consistent. There was only one story ("Church Not Made with Hands") that I was completely unable to wrap my brain around and subsequently disliked, and another ("Tri-Stan: I Sold Sissee Nar to Ecko") that started out great, but I lost interest and
No soy partidario de realizar una crítica a un cuerpo unificado. Es por ello, que no lo hago a los poemarios, salvo aquellos que mantienen una estructura única o bien a aquellos conjunto de relatos que de igual modo beben de una sola fuente. Entrevistas breves no cumple ninguno de estos requisitos. Y aún así, realizaré una crítica por la simple razón de que me apetece hacerlo. Como mucho de lo que escribió DFW Entrevistas breves no escapa a su irregularidad y al mismo tiempo a su brillantez. Alg ...more
Matthew Balliro
Sadly, this book marks the beginning of David Foster Wallace's late fiction. I say "sadly" because this should have really been the beginning of the end of his middle fiction, or something like that, but he'd only publish one more volume of fiction (more short stories) in his lifetime.

For some people, there might be too much metafiction and self-referentiality going on here. It may be too schematic for some, too structured. But really, how can you have DFW without structure? The format of the "i
David Foster Wallace is one of those "love him or hate him" kind of guys. His fans love his quirky stories, textural experimentations, and insights on the human condition. His critics, however, think he's too full of himself and egotistical. After attempting to read "Infinite Jest" last year, I was of the latter group. But after reading "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again" and trying "Infinite Jest" again, I now consider myself a fan.

"Brief Interviews..." is not my favorite DFW book, bu
Jul 03, 2009 Davis rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of good contemporary literature
Recommended to Davis by: Brandon Daley
Shelves: philosophy, humorous
I wanted to love David Foster Wallace. I mean, I wanted to just totally hang off of every single word...and I did...for about half of the stories in 'Brief Interviews With Hideous Men'. Around 1/2 of the stories are utterly amazing. The prose is dense and luxurious, with a vocabulary that is surely unparalleled in contemporary literature. The opulent use of footnotes may annoy some, I actually found the effect they had to be quite humorous especially in 'The Depressed Person'. The tales which sh ...more
Jul 08, 2008 Kirstie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people interested in psychology in the bedroom
This book has some priceless oddities and interviews from many men who are willing to divulge all things fantastical that have to do with psychosexual but it also deals with women too and there are two incredibly long passages where the woman is the main character. In one, she is the 'the depressed person' and it is easy to get lost in the tediousness of this. In another, she is a hippie who is telling her story to a man who went in thinking just another one night stand. The story ends up being ...more
David Alexander
Brief Interviews w/ Hideous Men

"Wonder is not just the starting point of philosophy in the sense of the initium, of a prelude or preface. Wonder is the principium, the lasting source, the fons et origo, the immanent origin of philosophy. The philosopher does not cease 'wondering' at a certain point in his philosophizing - he does not cease to wonder unless, of course he ceases to philosophize in the truer sense of the word."
-Josef Pieper, Leisure: The Basis of Culture, pg. 116.

I think David Fost
Several sentences into this book, I had that shock of recognition that usually signifies to a reader that this is not new material: "Wait, have I already read this?". A few pages later it happened again, which I would normally take to be the confirmation: "I have read this before." In this case, though, my best guess is that it was simply recognition (as in of a friend) -- in this case of the author and his world, not the specific words or stories. Obviously DFW has a recognizable, terribly cons ...more
Adam Floridia
At first, I kept thinking how this book read as if it were a writer’s notebook—filled with sketches, story ideas, scenes, descriptions, even just notes. After all, the first “story” is a whopping four sentences (nevertheless, it captures the solipsism, insecurity, and isolation of postindustrial humans perfectly!). The next few short pieces really did seem like just exercises in description. What I learned from entries such as that is twofold: 1) DFW really is a master prose stylist (I’m talking ...more
Aug 25, 2012 Rob rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: hideous men
Shelves: bedside, own, collection, 2012
This collection is about two short stories shy of a perfect "10". That said, for anyone that wants to cut their teeth on some DFW before taking the Infinite Jest plunge, I would gladly recommend this compilation. There are numerous gems in here that tease you in every which way. Here are the great (short) examples of DFW's work: format bending, expectation jerking, emotion shredding -- all of it.

Rated Individually:
• "A Radically Condensed History of Postindustrial Life"
• "Death Is Not the End
I don’t know if there’s anyone who’s had more insight into the modern human mind…or if there is, I don’t think anyone can even come close to articulating it like David Foster Wallace can. Nothing is sacred, and everything is exposed. It was eerie reading his snarky insights on therapy/psychotropic drugs…for obvious reasons. Besides that, even the long winded parts of this book were entertaining. It was fascinating, as I’d noticed with “Infinite Jest”, to see how far his creative mind could stret ...more
I have to say right out that I would probably NOT have finished this book had DFW not died and I read the 14 page piece about him in the New Yorker. Having said that, with that context and with patience, I waded through these stories (they feel more like pieces). Like Ulysses, BIwHM forces you to concentrate and read with purpose. By consequence, your ability to read is stretched that much further. (*other books that affected me this way include Speak, Memory and To the Lighthouse) I really want ...more
Extremely dense (as in filled with thought and meaning), intellectual, self-aware, and even, maybe, self-excoriating, this is a book which merits a serious investment of time and mental energy.

"The Depressed Person" will especially resonate with anyone who has experienced depression, and is extremely poignant given the fact the DFW struggled with depression and ended up taking his own life..."The Depressed Person," like the other short stories in this book, is brutal, harsh, complex, yet still
The first book I have read by David Foster Wallace. It only takes reading a few short stories to realize that the man was a genius. Wallace knows human nature really well, and it's amazing to read such an astute level of social intelligence and self-awareness. Wallace also uses these short stories to venture into very experimental territory-- some times with much better results than others. The strand of short stories that give the book its title, "Brief Interviews with Hideous Men," is hilariou ...more
Odi Shonga
As is often my experience with DFW, my feelings towards this collection of short stories was essentially binary: on the one hand, "wow" - and on the other, "whhhyyyy, uuugh."

For clarity's sake, that 'why, ugh' is a 'why, ugh' of "why have you made this so long/tedious/convoluted for us, what is your endgame, uuugh". Now on the other hand, that 'wow' is a 'wow' of "wow, how does this guy manage to capture the essence of being human, the neurosis of it all, so excellently".

So, I mean, I'll leave
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Infinite Jest – D...: Brief Interviews with Hideous Men 19 45 Apr 03, 2013 01:30PM  
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David Foster Wallace worked surprising turns on nearly everything: novels, journalism, vacation. His life was an information hunt, collecting hows and whys. "I received 500,000 discrete bits of information today," he once said, "of which maybe 25 are important. My job is to make some sense of it." He wanted to write "stuff about what it feels like to live. Instead of being a relief from what it fe ...more
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“Everything takes time. Bees have to move very fast to stay still.” 262 likes
“And I was -- this is just how I was afraid you'd take it. I knew it, that you'd think this means you were right to be afraid all the time and never feel secure or trust me. I knew it'd be 'See, you're leaving after all when you promised you wouldn't.' I knew it but I'm trying to explain anyway, okay? And I know you probably won't understand this either, but --wait-- just try to listen and maybe absorb this, okay? Ready? Me leaving is not the confirmation of all your fears about me. It is not. It's because of them. Okay? Can you see that? It's your fear I can't take. It's your distrust and fear I've been trying to fight. And I can't anymore. I'm out of gas on it. If I loved you even a little less maybe I could take it. But this is killing me, this constant feeling that I am always scaring you and never making you feel secure. Can you see that?” 116 likes
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