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Girl with Curious Hair

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  12,520 ratings  ·  860 reviews
Remarkable, hilarious and unsettling re-imaginations of reality by "a dynamic writer of extraordinary talent " (Jenifer Levin, New York Times Book Review).

Girl with Curious Hair is replete with David Foster Wallace's remarkable and unsettling reimaginations of reality. From the eerily "real," almost holographic evocations of historical figures like Lyndon Johnson and overt
Paperback, 373 pages
Published February 17th 1996 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published August 17th 1989)
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Kimberly Depends on what you're reading! Start with his essays, they're light and easy but will give you a glimpse of what goes on in his fiction. …moreDepends on what you're reading! Start with his essays, they're light and easy but will give you a glimpse of what goes on in his fiction. (less)

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Average rating 3.88  · 
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 ·  12,520 ratings  ·  860 reviews

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Oct 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Great introduction to DFW
After finishing David Foster Wallace’s Girl With Curious Hair, I had to step back awhile before reviewing in fear I would simply come across as an overzealous cheerleader yelling ‘Give me a D!....Give me a F!...Give me a W!....’. Like a teenage romance, I was so blinded by my love for this collection and author that I wasn’t sure exactly what it was I loved so much, and if this brightly burning passion was distracting me from the flaws and faults that I wouldn’t realize were there until much lat ...more

I saw him many times around here, since I joined the GR Club. Sometimes having tete-a-tete with one of my friends and sometimes being the cynosure of some group discussions. I thought of approaching him on many occasions but I didn’t want to come up as somewhat forward and I wasn’t even sure if he was my TYPES. Then a new year party invite brought us face to face with each other.

David: Hi! How you doin?

Me: *thinking about what should be an appropriate reply in correct Engli
MJ Nicholls
My main response to reading Wallace is that I’m not clever enough to read Wallace. I go through long periods in his fiction not knowing what the hell is happening and what the narrator is narrating. My second response is that Wallace wrote fiction with a universal appeal, inscrutable at times, but with a heart and a mind built by NASA. Despite this, despite his intention to strike a basic human chord, his fiction is largely the domain of the hyper-literate, or folks like me, straining to be hype ...more

Expressionless Little Animals

"It's 1976. The sky is low and full of clouds. The gray clouds are bulbous and wrinkled and shiny. The sky looks cerebral. Under the sky is a field, in the wind. A pale highway runs beside the field. Lots of cars go by. One of the cars stops by the side of the highway. Two small children are brought out of the car by a young woman with a loose face. A man at the wheel of the car stares straight ahead. The children are silent and have very white skin. The woman carr
Joshua Nomen-Mutatio
(The following came up in the comment thread of my review of Oblivion: Stories.)

The more I think about it the more I would recommend that people new to DFW start with his first short stories collection Girl with Curious Hair. His first two books (the novel/his college thesis paper (!)) The Broom of the System and the recently aforementioned short stories collection probably have a lower net level of run-on sentences and a more "accessible" style on the whole.

Starting with Infinite Jest as I did
Apr 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: usa, 2019-read
This collection encompasses only ten texts, but as usual, DFW serves us A LOT of content. Mostly, he dissects society by finding narrative chiffres for media and pop culture, and it's intense and wild and fascinating, but unfortunately, he also displays his most annoying tendencies by overwriting some material in the most show-offy way imaginable. Still, when this guy is going strong, he is simply mind-blowing, so I just cut him some slack by giving him 4 stars.

Two of the stories deal with a li
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
I am a DFW completist. Recently I have been suffering an anxiety that I had in fact not completed his first book of short stories, Girl with Curious Hair. It was time to reread it and banish those anxieties. In fact, best of my memory, I had cut out several years back mid-stride of “Lyndon.” Never mind why. Who would want to ask? I had, with clear evidence of memory, read the entirety of “Westward” under a tree in my backyard, upon a blanket (mom-made; Raggedy Ann and Andy pattern which had once ...more
Scribble Orca
Aug 21, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: i don' wanna be a dfw verjun nemoh
Recommended to Scribble by: Garima
Guy With Furious Hair or ~ The Toga Party ~

Little of this life has been spent considering death.

Paternal grandparents never known died as words on the page of a letter received long after the event; maternal grandparents took their leave in hospital, Grandfather of emphysema when his grandchild was barely a teenager with no interest in a crabby and decaying invalid, Grandmother years later of organ failure and senility surrounded by those of the family that were bothered to make the trek to her
Aug 04, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Difficult, brilliant, jarring, funny, ironically earnest and earnestly ironic with the limpidity of apostasy and the remote functionality of an egg-white toaster, I just wanted to grab myself by the front of my shirt and pull myself into this dizzyingly dexterous series of fictional contortions, wending through the labyrinth of self-aware, polymathic intelligence and meta-situations to find the author—standing apart from creations that the reader assists in imbuing with life with the melancholy ...more
Arthur Graham
David Foster Wallace turns the short story upside down and inside out, making the adjectives 'inventive,' 'unique,' and 'original' seem blasé. — T.C. Boyle

T.C. Boyle turns the buddy blurb into an art form, making the adjectives 'hyperbolic,' 'obsequious,' and 'pompous ass' seem passé. Furthermore, dude looks like a Q-tip dipped in iodine. — Arthur Graham


I don't know what happened, but I'm pretty sure I was supposed to like this way more than I did.

While there were definitely some solid stori
Jan 25, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: u-s-lit
You can't be cool unless you like David Foster Wallace. It's like a rule or something. You have to get it. You have to even refer to him by his initials: DFW. Like a password; so the other members of the cognescenti will know you are one of them, one of the cool ones. And, well, I would certainly like to be cool. So I gave this book a try. Actually, I gave the title story, Girl with the Curious Hair, four tries. I am sorry to admit that I am not cool.

Girl with the Curious Hair is about a doucheb
Stephen M
Jan 21, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those interested in a great authors' beginnings
Recommended to Stephen M by: Alex Ponzo
enyways=mah peeps sayin i red 2 much da dee eff dub but ah say tat i can neva red 2 much ah him and i can red whatevs u kow? example mah fav book [effinite gest:] ess dah best i wont red 5th times an i can neva red no buk afta an knot tink a hem, dee eff dub, an how much i luv him fur laiffe all da time u kow? example i will neva forget abut da gurrll wit tha hare an how much i luv da vice of dee eff dub an how he writs all laike mest up an weeeeeeurd but at da sam time kinda buitiful cause heh ...more
May 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Sometimes I can't read more than 20 pages at a time of David Foster Wallace because I get so weighed down by his detail, psychology and theme that my ADD kicks in out of self-defense. Other times I have to break because I substituted comprehension in place of breathing for too long and I just needed a more straightforward book.


She said ‘Love’ is simply a word. It joins separate things. Lyndon and I, though you would disagree, agree that we do not properly love one another anymore. Because
Aug 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, dfw
Edit again: So even though I haven't read all of DFW's work yet, I think this book would be a good place to start for someone who has read none. Originally I was telling people Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, but that's just because that's the first one I read and I loved it. This collection is... fucking brilliant. It's beyond my ability to really say more. I remember I was reading "Little Expresionless Animals" the day before DFW died, and I was like "oh my god I can't believe someone this ...more
Nicholaus Patnaude
I read this as an act of mourning for a writer I never understood. Nonetheless, his death shook me to the core for here was a man who had many things I've spent the last few years of my life desiring like an enthusiastic Bears fan. I'd attempted Infinite Jest earlier this year and had given up, feeling his verbal pyrotechnics would only end in nausea. Outpourings of grief on various web addresses painted an entirely new portrait of the man; one I had missed on my initial encounter with his work. ...more
Justin Evans
Apr 23, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This book is very clever because every story is post-something. Little Expressionless Animals, Lydon, My Appearance- Post-Delillo. Luckily...- post Beckett. Girl with curious Hair- post-Easton Ellis. John Billy- post-Faulkner. Here and There- post writing workshop (okay, that's a stretch.) Say Never- post Roth. Everything is Green- I really don't know, but induction says that this, too, is post-something. And the mother of all the posts, 'Westward the Course of Empire,' is post-Barth (unfortunat ...more
Sentimental Surrealist
An envy-inducing collection, the sort where even failures like the frankly annoying experiment with voice "John Billy" (intended as a Gass tribute, but it comes off more as a Gass parody - DFW would become just as good in his own way at blending erudition with slang as Gass was, but with "John Billy" it all rings false) and the frustratingly preachy tone of "Westward the Course of the Empire Takes Its Way," which is a nice predecessor to Infinite Jest but shows us why we don't need to be metafic ...more
May 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dfw, 2020-read
You are loved.
Roderick Vincent
Jan 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: topthirty
(4.5, but 5 for originality)

If I could have anyone in the world I'd like explain what 8 dimensions looks like, David Foster Wallis would have been the man. A Frank Zappa wordsmith, be prepared to eat the yellow snow. His stories are like Jackson Pollock drip paintings. You're either going to say, "Groovy" or you just won't get it. He's Doctor Jacoby from Twin Peaks with the one-eye orange, one-eye blue sunglasses and Hawaiian T-shirt clacking on aromatic astro turf donning out "shaka brah" wavel
Aug 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: DFW fans
Recommended to Junta by: Other DFW books
David Foster Wallace is one of my favourite authors, but there's one thing about his writing that has occasionally irked or disappointed me: his writing when it involves race. In the cases with some other books (including The Pale King, where pretty much the only non-white character is a woman who, due to her complicated history 'back home', gives blowjobs to move up in the corporate world, and I think it was one of his essay collections where he writes about how he lectured a black student in a ...more
Jan 20, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
uneven is the word. also "too clever by half" is a few more words. I actually really liked most of the stories here, but the ones I didn't like (John Billy, Westward the Course of Empire Takes its Way) were invariably the longer ones, so on a page by page basis I found it a bit whatever. there is a lot of metafiction stuff in this collection, which I am not so into. like, the longest story here (Westward...) is supposedly an extended satire of a postmodern short story by John Barth, Lost in the ...more
The groundwork for later genius; worth buying for the sexy fun with LBJ.
Many of these stories go in differing directions stylistically. You can hear the shortest one set to music here or hear it straight here
May 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“It was his idea to call having a body Corporeal Punishment”.
There are brilliant, uncomfortable, sad and hilarious moments in these stories. Wallace is ‘deeply funny’, that is tragically funny, funny in the face, in the looming shadow of tragedy.
That said, I hated more than one of these stories. Loathed. This was a shock to me but, on reflection, shouldn’t have been. My favorite artists of all kinds are risk takers. Apparently to be an all-time great, and DFW is, the artist is hit or miss, n
Jan 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Short stories I loved:

"Girl with Curious Hair"
"My Appearance"

Short stories I liked:

"Here and There"
"Little Expressionless Animals"

Short stories I basically felt nothing about:

"Everything Is Green"
"Say Never"
"Luckily the Account Representative Knew CPR"

Short stories I disliked:

"John Billy"

I'll also mention that one-third of this collection is a large novella entitled "Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way," which I enjoyed so little that it basically killed my enthusiasm for this c
On Celebrity

What nearly the whole collection revolves around. The fetishizing and deifying of celebrity grows every year in America. It wasn’t new in the late 80s, it’s not yet cliché here in 2013. But it’s not just the John Lord’s we’re idly fascinated with. It’s the Jeopardy champions. It’s the local football stars whose lives are actually sad and desolate as the prairie that surrounds them. To be a celebrity is a perceived escape from loneliness.

On Loneliness

I haven’t made it through (I have
Read By RodKelly
So far, my least favorite of DFW's books. There is very little of the emotional core that makes his incredibly complex writing transcendent beyond any apparent difficulty imposed on the reader. I enjoyed the first four stories well enough, but the other six were all a bag of histrionic tricks that left me a little cold. ...more
Dec 03, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
DFW is amazing. Investing the time to read his work is well worth it.
The Awdude
Jul 31, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So, I've been made fun of for getting excited about something or other and then running around proselytizing to people in the name of whatever that something or other happens to be this month, or whatever, but for now I'm just going to blame such skepticism and hostility toward excitement on our oh! so cold postmodern world in which we're afraid of expressing or hearing expressed anything "real" or "genuine," to paraphrase the thematic thrust of the stories in Girl with Curious Hair, about whose ...more
William Thomas
"An intellectual says a simple thing in a hard way. An artist says a hard thing in a simple way." -Charles Bukowski

And that's why I find DFW so aggravating. He is both an intellectual and an artist, his prose meandering and wandering in and out of gorgeous simplicity to complex minutiae, reducing life's complexities to beautiful poetry and then inflating the smallest incidents into something hyper-inflated, engorged and bloated beyond necessity.

But he can brilliantly give weight to the most med
"Fortunately the Account Executive Knew CPR" is a stellar example of stretching a scene so far that it can stand alone as a truly vivid short story. No dialogue whatsoever but the piece was fleshed out so well that I could smell the smells of the parking lot and even imagine the sounds of the account executive's cries for help near the end. I think this particular short story really stands out and shows the kind of visceral fiction that Wallace could really be capable of.

I thought that other tha
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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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