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Brief Interviews with Hideous Men

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  25,412 ratings  ·  1,981 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, 273 pages
Published April 1st 2000 by Abacus (first published May 28th 1999)
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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)
Gaurav Andreas I think we are all certain words that stand out to us. I didn't notice the word 'sweet' a lot perhaps because it immersed with the continuity of the t…moreI think we are all certain words that stand out to us. I didn't notice the word 'sweet' a lot perhaps because it immersed with the continuity of the text of perfectly. I think you noticed it because the word 'sweet' stands out to you. For me, the word is 'said' which is really unfortunate since it appears in all of the books, probably.
If you don't feel enlightened, let's feel dumb together.(less)
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Paul Bryant
Oct 27, 2010 rated it it was ok

Given that most of my goodread friends love DFW with immoderate, alarming gusto, this requires some kind of explanation.

There’s a direct parallel between DFW and James Joyce. They both tended perpetually towards the encyclopaedic. They were utterly indifferent to audience expectation - even to the modernist, avantgardish audience they themselves created. Their main books are vast, oceanic, limitless affairs. They appeared to wish to use ev
To call these meanderings and sub-meanderings of a brilliant mind short stories, will be akin to putting a leash on DFW's creativity with the aid of conventional terminologies and thereby undervaluing the sheer inventiveness on display in this compelling collection.
In course of my limited venturings into DFW's literary landscapes I have arrived at one crucial inference. That to read DFW is to transgress the very act of simply reading through and discover a newer way to commune with his chain of
Apr 05, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: English majors
Shelves: shortstories
Usually when some undergraduate English major brings up DFW to me at a keg party I tend auto-file them under "douchebag." Because, let's be honest people - Infinite Jest was profoundly not good. But everything that's irritating about Wallace's thoroughly self-aware postmodern writing style is somehow much more stomachable in smaller bites. Brief Interviews has its highs and lows - the quality is extremely variant between the pieces - but when it's on, it is ON. In fact, Brief Interviews holds mo ...more
Hannah Garden
Aug 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's official: my heart is broken for David Foster Wallace. Anyone who thinks they don't like him is, I'm sorry, an ass. This shit is just not up for debate. ...more
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
Oct 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The cover, someone wearing a paper bag, presents a sad, pathetic image. That - along with the title - implies elephant man ugliness, and I'm inclined to be sympathetic before I even start to read. It quickly becomes apparent that the hideousness does not refer to any exterior quality (sometimes there is a physical component to the ugliness, but that fact is secondary). These guys are creeps. The real problem is always within. The “Union of the Hideously and Improbably Deformed” services are not ...more
Dec 25, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, for-kindle, 2014
I sold my first car just a little over a year ago. It was sort of a bittersweet thing for me because even though that rustbox was old and broken there was a comfortable familiarity there. I loved it in spite of itself. I venture to guess that if I were ever to get back into the driver’s seat (theoretically, of course—the car is long gone now), I’d be awash in nostalgic warmth and tenderness for it. Then, I’d start driving it and quickly remember that yes, the turn signal does sometimes blink spo ...more
Tom Quinn
David Foster Wallace is an excellent lister. He isn't always the greatest storyteller, but he is a truly excellent lister. Things. Sensations. Details. Tics. He notices and lists them all. He is like Emerson's invisible eyeball, turning outward to reveal more about what is inside, listing a thousand tiny details in endless parade where each attains paradoxically heightened importance by becoming equally unimportant. It's not that he is a poor storyteller, but this collection gave me the sense th ...more
MJ Nicholls
Jul 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars rounded up to a fanboyish five. Brief Interviews is the strongest short story collection from the affectionately acronymously monikered DFW in this reviewer’s eyes—Girl With Curious Hair falling too far into a sort of rat-escaping-the-fictional-labyrinth obliqueness, and Oblivion supersized with unstoppable novella-length formal flops. Both flaws are in evidence here but are steeped in so much hip-shaking wonderment it’s heartless not too turn a blind eye. ‘Forever Overhead’ and ‘The D ...more
Emily B
Feb 03, 2020 rated it liked it
This is a hard book for me to rate and review.

I could listen to David Foster Wallace talk all day but his writing is just hard. It requires work, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Although short and relatively simple I adored the first short story ‘A radically condensed history of postindustrial life’ and struggled with the more complex titles such as ‘Tri-stan: I Sold Sisee Nar To Ecko’
Oct 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Hideous Men
Recommended to Junta by: Infinite Jest, Samadrita's review
Update while reading, October 24 2016:
I'm enamored with his writing so much at the moment that I'm sharing a whole segment here. This is one of the 'Brief Interviews with Hideous Men' which has made a huge impression on me so far. (pp.20-22)
B.I. #11 06-96
'All right, I am, okay, yes, but hang on a second, okay? I need you to try and understand this. Okay? Look. I know I'm moody. I know I'm kind of withdrawn sometimes. I know I'm hard to be in this with, okay? All right? But this every t
Leo Robertson
The Asshole Monologues.

Re-reading for a writing project...

Man does DFW ever ramble on!

He gets a pass because of what it felt like reading this book for the first time ;)

Original review.

I won't reveal too much about the individual stories because I don't want to take away the surprise, but:

- Amongst other devices, post-modern or otherwise, metafiction and the dreaded poioumena are used properly and to fantastic effect: yes, they are. I've never seen it done before. Never understood it, but peelin
L.S. Popovich
Recommended for hardcore DFW fans. This collection is a deeply personal, scattered exhibit of loneliness, a harrowing, sad, and convincing portrayal of damaged psyches. Wit, brilliance, and exuberance are all evident in Wallace's oeuvre, but here, must be discerned through strata of mimesis.

Listening to the audiobook reading by the author this time around allowed me to feel landscapes of hurt and brokenness within its multitudes of layers of densely packed, heady elegance. Its psychological aby
Aug 08, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: short-stories
It seems I am a little stupid. A bit slow. Not so quick on the uptake. Perhaps even a hair over the boundary separating the uncultured from the genuinely dumb-ass.

The reason for this sudden self-awareness, my profound dumb-lightenment?

I can’t read David Foster Wallace. I tried. I opened Brief Interviews With Hideous Men and bashed myself against the towering walls of his prolixity, his long meandering stories, the seemingly endless sentences.

And oh, those sentences. They are rabbits disappearin

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 compassion
Mar 23, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I just finished reading Brief Interviews With Hideous Men. This book is some kind of a literary masterpiece yeah. I just didn’t enjoy reading it that much.
I understand what this book is supposed to be, and it’s very eye-opening to note what he is doing/trying to do/succeeding to do in any one of these stories, but it is simply not enjoyable to read. It is rather like– as a child does in one of the earlier stories in this book, the only story I enjoyed– finding yourself forced to leap off of a h
Jul 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Erikaaaa by: Paul
If there are 12 things i appreciate in the world, i'm sure one of them is repetition for effect and i don't care if it's in music or in humor, anything. I'm not saying that's DFW's best element here, but it's done sooooo masterfully and it just works for me. I love tight and elegant prose, duh, but if you're going to be neurotic then just go all the way and DO IT and don't stop, keep going, it's so good and getting better.

From a linguistic view, yep, it's astounding. The subtleties of language t
Jun 02, 2011 rated it it was ok
Ugh. Wow, this is just... bad. By page 230, I had had enough. The thing is, it's as if he decided he had to use every trick up his literary sleeve and instead of relying on the ingenuity and originality of his stories, he mucks it all up by trying too hard to be "unique." There are the brief interviews, which in and of themselves are interesting (saving this reviewer from having to give the author of one of my favorite books of the year one measly star). Then there are several short stories spri ...more
Lee Klein
Jun 11, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Khashayar Mohammadi
First time I was reading DFW's fiction and I absolutely loved it. Before this I only knew him as a journalist and essay-writer, but his fiction really floored me. I'm still not a huge fan of his footnotes, but its interesting to see how his stories suddenly branch out into several stories running parallel on both sides of the footnote border. the "Depressed Person" short story immediately became one of my all time favorite stories. One can really feel how he meddles with his page like a TV edito ...more
Dec 07, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The first 1/2 rd of this book is just ok. I just love Wallace's writing style so it's always pleasant to read, but there wasn't much to get excited about. The last half was just stunning. One essay after another, funny, breathtaking, awful, but all so well-written and interesting. Wallace's subject is usually himself, which is to say men who think a lot about themselves and their desires and urges and conflicts and the ways in which they fail to be "good men." So these essays expose different co ...more
mark monday
Oct 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
David Foster Wallace was a great writer. No two ways about that, it is so evident in his prose and in his stories that it does make you a little bit sad inside to know that you will never get the opportunity to meet this man. Yes, sometimes he gets a bit pretentious and self-important by hitting you over the head with the fact of his great-writer-ness. At some points the writing gets so esoteric and overly metaphorical that it ceases to make human sense or becomes extremely difficult to follow ( ...more
Nate D
There are several different, idiosyncratic kinds of things going on in Brief Interviews. Your bread and butter here are the (1) piercing views of interior monologue. Wallace has an unusual facility with voice and he puts to use here, as characters self-dissect and recriminate and justify in bottomless hall-of-mirrors sequences of self-reflection. These horror stories for the uncertain, for those who overthink. For those with anxiety that their proper outward actions might be self-satisfied, and ...more
Mar 25, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2013, audio
There were moments of absolute brilliance (Forever Overhead was my favorite). There were also moments when I would have done anything to get him to stop talking. And he does this completely ingenious thing where, by omitting the interview questions, he essentially turns you (the reader) into the interviewer. The questions are so obvious in relation to the answers that I found myself mentally supplying them during the pauses, which made me feel like I was trapped into participating in conversatio ...more
"Soon, perhaps, respected & glossy high-art organs might even start inviting smartass little ironists to contemporize & miscegenate BC mythos; & all this pop irony would put a happy-face mask on a nation's terrible shamefaced hunger & need; translation, genuine information, would be allowed to lie, hidden & nourishing inside the wooden belly of parodic camp."

What else more is there to say about David Foster Wallace? This is Jelly Belly literature, and you just keep stuffing the candy into your m
Sep 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
In a way, this is a microcosm of everything to admire about Wallace's short fiction and everything that makes a reader mighty tired. Moments of absolute brilliance and moments of being hell-bent on nullifying a story's quality as a story in this meta-fictional look-dad-no-hands way that he loathed so much, but still with the agenda of trying to prove the futility of this very aspect of literature. Which, frankly, is just plain annoying. However, the other pieces make up for it. ...more
One story was recommended to me recently in a friend's list of best/favourite short stories. Finally got me started reading this which I'd bought in March 2011.

A Radically Condensed History of the World
I am undecided whether this piece simply isn't very good (one GR friend calls this collection uneven) or if it could do with half an hour of seminar time to tease out the relationship between the title and the two pages of story.

Death Is Not the End *****
Absolutely love this. Very, very funny. Li
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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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