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Chapter 9: "Forty-Minute Lunch"

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Patrick Brown This is the "David Foster Wallace" chapter, I guess. Many people have commented on the supposed parody of Wallace. I haven't read him (I know, I know) so I'll let others comment on that. This is not my favorite chapter in the book. I've read a lot of mid-90s SPIN profiles, and this didn't quite feel like that. Though I will say that by the end of the chapter, I was somewhat moved.

What did you think? Did you enjoy this particular stylistic quirk? What purpose do you think it served to tell this chapter in this way?


Blair I wasn't very keen on this chapter. I think the style of journalism it parodies is one I haven't really come across, so the satirical humour that might have derived from it was largely lost on me. I have a feeling said style of journalism is more a US thing; British celebrity profiles don't, by and large, tend to bring the writer's personality out in this way, so I found it hard to get used to. I think the idea of a chapter in the form of a faux-article is really good, but this one didn't really work, for me. I might have liked it more with a bit more information about the context: would this ever actually have been published? (It might seem obvious that it wouldn't, but perhaps it could have been intended to be deliberately controversial, sort of shock journalism...) If it wasn't, and Jules wrote this for himself in the grip of hysteria or madness, I'd prefer that, I think. And the asides and diversions into his personal life would work better too.

The chapter made me dislike Jules, but I didn't end up feeling much more positive towards Kitty; she seemed really vapid here. I did like the way Jules gave away details about his previous relationship in a style that was probably meant to be heavily self-deprecating and sarcastic but ended up just making him seem more of a tragic figure. Egan seems to have a knack for this kind of painfully accurate and revealing detail.


Wendy This was my least favorite chapter. Jules just ranted on and on and I couldn't wait for it to be over. It would have been better if the chapter would have been just the story of how a 45 minute lunch became an all inclusive stay at Rikers. The parts about photons and Central Park security were numbing.


message 4: by Larry (last edited Jun 05, 2011 02:08PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Larry Bassett Got to love those footnotes with the extra details. I am glad I actually read them instead of just scanning them as I do with most footnotes.

The Ibid in the one footnote was precious.


ShannLeigh Not a fan of the chapter. I didn't really care about Jules from the previous chapters, so I wasn't excited to get to read about him again. The same really goes for Kitty, though she was more interesting in the previous chapter than this one.

I really just couldn't wait to get through it.


Melissa Wendy wrote: "This was my least favorite chapter. Jules just ranted on and on and I couldn't wait for it to be over. It would have been better if the chapter would have been just the story of how a 45 minute lun..."

I totally agree!! Least favorite thus far! The way Jules told his story just made him seem like a jerk who is beyond redemption. How about just admit you made a crazy mistake and get on with your life? Also, he shows such contempt for celebrities; i wonder if that is the sole reason why he did it. I really see no other reason. It just can't be that he was feeling sorry for himself because of his job and break-up. Who does that?

Glad that chapter is over!


Kristin As with most, I wasn't a huge fan of this chapter. It did make me think about new journalism and how in that era people really looked at including their own voice in the depiction of what they were writing, but like another reader mentioned - this really felt like shock journalism. For me, I felt like Jules was overcome with hysteria throughout the attempted rape -- but it also felt like an attempt to make this piece work (since he struggled with fear about making this article mean more than just another actress profile). As usual, i love her playing with form here and challenging us with the footnotes and change in style -- but all in all it wasn't my favorite chapter.


Maayan Schwab I thought I would be more sympathetic to Jules than I wound up being after reading this chapter. I also thought the "incident" would go differently, truly. This may have been my least favorite chapter.

As a former student of journalism (and while I understand that this chapter's style was modeled after the aforementioned specific style), and as a consumer of an absurd amount of magazine features in my [age] years, I didn't appreciate Jules' interview
technique or the story he "wrote" very much at all. I thought it was arrogant and condescending. I get that he was desperate, and ever more quickly approaching his big emotional breakdown, but to me that just made his part in the incident more pathetic and upsetting. Kitty was boring, I'll agree with that, but as he says/writes -- she's 19 when
this all goes down! What could he expect?

I also love how Egan changes form again and forces us to focus by adding the footnotes and yet another style. When I see footnotes, I usually plan to scan and skip - but I read them all, and they enhanced the story/article itself for me. Still... not my favorite.


Lindsay Didn't like this chapter. The footnote thing was different, but to be honest, I didn't read any of that teeny-tiny print which was really just a dialogue of Jules's thought process: not something I want to read. And why in the world would he write an article for a paper/magazine and insert in it what he did to her in the park?? I didn't like that chapter.


message 10: by Sara (new)

Sara I am beginning to think this book is a total waste of my time. Egan does not write men well. This chapter was terrible.
Awards are weird. If you read through the pulitzer nonfiction awards at http://www.pulitzer.org/bycat/Fiction this book is actually better than a few of them but way way worse than most.


Andre Sara wrote: "I am beginning to think this book is a total waste of my time. Egan does not write men well. This chapter was terrible.
Awards are weird. If you read through the pulitzer nonfiction awards at h..."


Out of most of the pulitzers that I've read so far it seems like this book has the most literary devices, or writing gimics rolled into it. It doesn't bother me, but it I can see how some wouldn't enjoy it at all. Its hard to pull out a coherent narrative from the book. I have a feeling that it would benefit from multiple readings, but I don't know if I feel like it is worth re-reading. Its entertaining enough as a once-through.


Sarah Obsesses over Books & Cookies Ok this chapter both made me cringe and yet I liked the way Jules wrote. I hate him, obviously but at the same time I appreciated the humor and the way the details of his personal life are revealed so we can see more of him even though he's an arsehole


message 13: by Mimi (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mimi Sarah wrote: "Ok this chapter both made me cringe and yet I liked the way Jules wrote. I hate him, obviously but at the same time I appreciated the humor and the way the details of his personal life are revealed..."

I feel the same way, Sarah. I thought it was important to find out what happened between Jules and Kitty after meeting Jules following his prison term. When I met Jules in his later life, I wasn't sure how I felt about him...after reading this chapter, from his point of view, I can honestly see how creepy he really was ... and I'm not really sure that prison changed him all that much.


Sarah Obsesses over Books & Cookies glad to have a fellow reader with the same observations. :)


Sam Still Reading I seem to be in the minority here - I enjoyed this chapter and thought it was very well written. The way Egan takes Jules' unwell mind (we know he has bipolar disorder from previous chapters) and transfers it on to paper, the rambling non-stop cascade of unlinked thoughts explained the state of his mind well. The egotistic way he launches himself on Kitty is disturbing. I thought Kitty was portrayed well in this chapter - we can see she's not the vapid movie star that Jules initially thinks she is, but a fighter.


Gretchen Carin wrote: "I seem to be in the minority here - I enjoyed this chapter and thought it was very well written. The way Egan takes Jules' unwell mind (we know he has bipolar disorder from previous chapters) and t..."

Good point Carin. It was a good picture of "Jules' unwell mind". I didn't take it that way but now upon reflection does make me feel slightly better about the purpose of the chapter.


Kendra I was fascinated by this chapter in its ability to create a level of empathy for characters previously despicable. So many of the chapters do this; adding layers of understanding upon our conception of the characters.

The journalistic prose was funny, and I thought it was a good parody of the reporting that attempts to bring readers closer to celebrities through casual observation of the celeb's 'everydayness'. While not the strongest chapter, it certainly left an impression!


Sharon Hallman This was a great chapter. Very well written and funny and said a lot. A great chapter to give us a good insight into the character of the Movie Star.


message 19: by Trish (last edited Jun 24, 2011 10:33PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Trish David Foster Wallace is my favorite author. I've loved this book up to this point, but it is very painful to read this chapter since DFW had such a unique voice/writing style and is clearly being mocked here (even to the detail of DFW being a math geek, and this chapter diverging into discussion of particle physics). If he were still alive, I think it would be fair game, but since his suicide I just find this painful. I am distracted and saddened by someone making fun of my favorite dead author, so I find it difficult to read what's actually trying to be conveyed. Which is weird, because obviously, I enjoy the style. (Anyone unfamiliar should read his essay "A supposedly fun thing I'll never do again".)


Danielle Allen I loved that this chapter was structured the way that it was - as an article instead of just straight commentary or narrative. I didn't find the attack particularly realistic, though. It seemed to come out of nowhere and I would have liked a little more of a buildup, especially since we had a first person look into his mind.


Katie I'm in the minority in that I loved this chapter. I think I just love cynicism, and movie stars are such easy targets. I enjoyed how he just decided to let it all hang out with this article and be totally straightforward about what a joke Hollywood and fame are.

Having said that, the assault that came later did seem weirdly abrupt even though I knew it was coming, and while I enjoyed the humor of the article he wrote a great deal, that humor certainly did not make me like him as a character.

However, I find him curious, particularly after his quote from back in chapter 7, where he's riding in the car with Stephanie, saying "I'm like America" and "our hands are dirty." Those few words just convey so much, and are so thought-provoking--perhaps the most thought-provoking words in the book so far to me.


Christie Larry wrote: "Got to love those footnotes with the extra details. I am glad I actually read them instead of just scanning them as I do with most footnotes.

The Ibid in the one footnote was precious."


I agree with Larry in the way that I think that the footnotes made this chapter more enjoyable. I would also like to comment on a thought that was stated above about this being a publish article. While I was reading it, it seemed to me to be written from jail and may have never been published. I found it a good way for us to learn about both Jules and Kitty.


Samantha Jones I am a DFW fan, and I think since he's been such an influential writer (especially with all of the footnotes he's famous for), it just goes to show how someone like Jules at that point in his life wouldn't be able to pull it off. He hasn't quite grown into his writing chops yet (although I hope he does a better job covering the Suicide Tour). The focus on his lunch with Kitty also goes to show how vapid celebrity articles are today. I really could care less how a celebrity acted during the interview or what she was wearing.


jaxnsmom During the interview I disliked Kitty even more than after her behavior in "Selling the General". She really annoyed me. But I did wish she'd done some damage to Jules when he tried to rape her.

I knew something had happened between them from "A to B", but I was totally surprised at the extent of the attack. I don't mean to sound like I condone Jules' behavior, the whole attack was atrocious, but for some reason I couldn't stop laughing and repeating OMG as I read it. I think it was Jules' manic thoughts while describing the attack. I could find it absurd because I knew it was fiction.


Paige put me in with the group of people who did not like this chapter. I did not like Jules before this chapter and after reading it I know why I don't like him. He is a jerk- I totally dislike footnotes and found these useless. Ok so I live under a rock I do not even know who David Foster Wallace is- guess I will go to B&N.com and find out- I suspect he is not my "kind" of a writer/reporter? Hope the next chapter is better


Libby I can't decide on this chapter. When Sasha (is it Sasha who is Jules sister?) refers to Jules incarceration in a earlier chapter and says that during the trial the victim almost recanted her story but he was still found guilty - so I was surprised at how the chapter played out.


Megan I'm not sure if I wasn't concentrating or what but for the first part of this chapter I thought the narrator was a woman... Took me ages to realise it was Jules.


Glenda Ricord Honestly, after reading all the comments here, I'm going to go back and read this chapter again. I found myself rushing through it because my eyes were glassing over. I really liked this book up to this chapter and I hope it doesn't go downhill from this point. I don't like Jules at all. I don't like footnotes. I have Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace loaded on my Kindle and I will get around to reading it one of these days. I have seen rave reviews and scorching pans of both the author and the book. I am now determined to read it.


Katie I can't believe everyone hates Jules! Well, I can...but aside from Scotty, he's the one character that I feel has the most character and is the most relatable. He's just a guy who is lost...and he is trying to find his purpose in this really fucked up world. When his sister asks him what his plans are...I love that he says "I don't know..." SO totally can relate to that. Especially when well-laid plans just completely fall apart and you are just left with nothing. Of course, the attack on Kitty is unforgivable. I do agree with what others have said about how his rambling thoughts portray the bipolar disorder he suffers from well...and I also enjoyed reading the footnotes. The chapter was a little difficult to follow but honestly, the whole book is! haha so you have to look past that a bit and just try not to over analyze, and just kind of let the story take you away.


Caroline I am really confused about this chapter personally. I've been reading this book nonstop all day and after this chapter, I needed to set the book down to really think about what just happened.
I think Egan does a fine job of displaying is bipolar tendencies and obvious mental health problems, but I am still having trouble actually believing that Jules would of assaulted Kitty.
Almost like Jules was just writing this entry as a parody of how ridiculous it would be for him to actually assault her is Central Park, in broad daylight. But that could be completely far fetched.


message 31: by Karen (last edited Jul 10, 2011 08:37AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Karen This book was really confusing to me. I couldn't wait for the whole thing to be over. What was the point of it? One star.


Tzipora I'm just so not a fan of footnotes! I think I gave up on The Brief And Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao because of the footnotes in that one. All I could think was how thankful I was it was just one chapter and the east to read Powerpoint chapter was coming up! Footnotes, especially the ones in this chapter of Jules's long rambling thoughts make it feel like you're trying to read two stories at once. I'm not a good multitasker!

However, the footnotes at least distracted me enough from being too bothered by reading the point of view of someone committing/ attempting to commit a sex crime. It didn't give me any real insight into why he did it. Those were sorry excuses if I ever heard any. actually, that's the only part that made him seem mentally unstable to me. He sounded almost too stable to me for some reason. I think perhaps it was just easier to believe he acted as he did out of mental instability versus having to read his rambling explaination of why he did it as if that was going to gain sympathy.. I just don't get why this chapter was needed.


message 33: by Emma (new) - rated it 5 stars

Emma Man, I've thought all the chapters are great, and this one too. Actually it was nice to be a bit freed of the 'feeling sympathy for flawed characters' thing in this one ... you knew already he was going to assault her and you could just watch him unravel and the train wreck ensue. I didn't fel sympathetic, or that I was gaining insight, I was just engrossed. Admittedly, I've never read DFW but I appreciate the style of this chapter (it's not like the guy invented footnotes); also how Jules' smugness dissipates through the encounter and he realises how screwed (and bitter) he is. I don't think it's meant to be an imitation of an actual celebrity piece. It's just adoption of that style as an alternate approach to a first-person narrative.
I'm really liking the way that the ensemble of characters is unfolding, unfolding ... it's a nice way to think about the world, be less self-absorbed, because you don't know which minor character is about to have his or her own story told.


message 34: by Lena (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lena Caroline wrote: "I am really confused about this chapter personally. I've been reading this book nonstop all day and after this chapter, I needed to set the book down to really think about what just happened.
I th..."


I agree in not totally believing that Jules would in fact assault Kitty,especially since this "article" is so self-indulgent. Like someone else stated earlier, I started the next chapter but had to take a breather because we had two back to back chapters of this Dolly/Kitty and then Kitty character, that the transition to (difficult) second person narrative is almost startling.

I know Egan says this book and its chapters are like a "compilation" of sorts, but I sometimes struggle with such violent transitions between characters, POV, and timelines...


message 35: by Lena (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lena Glenda wrote: "Honestly, after reading all the comments here, I'm going to go back and read this chapter again. I found myself rushing through it because my eyes were glassing over. I really liked this book up ..."

So he is bipolar? I think I missed that, and I guess that helps illuminate this chapter a bit. I also wonder if he's meant to come off as a bad journalist, maybe foreshadowing some failure on his part to document Bosco (which I'm assuming/hoping we'll actually see later on).


Deborah Biancotti Hated it. I did love the irony of finding out that, as much as Jules wants to be a writer, he's a remarkably disinteresting writer - even when he's writing about rape.

I had a sense there was some kinda point to this that I wasn't getting. But I just didn't care.


message 37: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Well I've never heard of DFW before this but I did like this chapter. It's been a really long time since I read One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest but this reminded me a bit of that. Seeing Jules unraveling through his words. This is obviously pre-meds Jules versus post-meds Jules we met in a previous chapter after he's released from prison and moves in with Steph and Bennie. I'm sure he'll be able to write better for the Suicide Tour, at least I'm rooting for him.

This chapter had me laughing a lot, especially during the footnotes when he would rant and go off on tangents. But when he attacked Kitty right out of the blue, I noted in my ebook, WTF!!! Holy smokes, he went totally wacko by that point. And I was relieved that Kitty was able to fight back - yay for pepper spray and swiss army knives :)

No, I don't think his article ever made it into a mag. I'm guessing that he finished it while incarcerated and kept it.


Rachel After being conflicted by the last chapter I wanted something light. And this chapter seemed kind of dark. We were inside his head which was interesting for deep diving into his character, but that's a guys head I don't want to be in! I did end up liking Kitty more by the end of it though so it did give some closure to my confusion about what to think of her as a character.


message 39: by Stephanie (last edited Jul 22, 2011 06:02PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Stephanie Um...interesting. At first it was fun to read the footnotes, then it got tedious, but I felt compelled to read all of them. I found the footnotes more interesting than the story itself (I enjoy snarky and informative footnotes...like those in An Abundance of Katherines by John Green), as I dislike interviews written in this manner (I suppose that's why I'm not a SPIN mag fan!). I'm glad this chapter was written in this way, as it tells us what kind of writer Jules is/was and that he really is a darkly humourous character who will be able to pull off Bosco's comeback!


Stephanie Glenda wrote: "Honestly, after reading all the comments here, I'm going to go back and read this chapter again. I found myself rushing through it because my eyes were glassing over. I really liked this book up ..."

Infinite Jest might be the kind of book that doesn't work on the Kindle...as I've read part of it and have been thumbing to the back often for the endnotes...I'm interested to see how it works on an eReader.


Timothy My native language is Chinese, and I feel totally fuzzy about this chapter, but it does make some sense for the whole story, if this book really relate a "whole" story.


Barbara Trish wrote: "David Foster Wallace is my favorite author. I've loved this book up to this point, but it is very painful to read this chapter since DFW had such a unique voice/writing style and is clearly being ..."

I have not read any of David Foster Wallace's books yet, but I've been wanting to. Is this chapter actually mocking his style??? If that's the case, is the chapter supposed to be "mocking" DFW's essays or his writing in general?

I was not crazy about this chapter, but I don't think I disliked it as much as some of the other people who have commented in ths thread. But I would like to read Infinite Jest at some point, and I really hope the style of writing in a one thousand page book is not similar (at all) to the writing in this chapter of A Visit from the Goon Squad !!!!!


aPriL does feral sometimes I liked it. It was interesting, sad and horrifying. The style appeared very different than went before, and since this isn't a short story collection of different authors, it also was a reveal of Egan's talent. In school in high school Language Arts classes we frequently were given assignments to imagine ourselves in this or that character's head and write a two or three page story. This whole book reminds me of those assignments. That there are links of characters knowing or meeting characters from previous chapters makes it more of a challenge to track for the reader as well as for the writer. The broken up quality is a different and requires flipping around to review what happened to that character earlier ( my memory not being especially great). We see Kitty as aging actress first, then as a young new star, first being attacked by a brutal General, ruler of some country, then now being attacked by a miserable journalist. Kitty has changed with age, inviting attack when older but totally surprised by the journalist when younger. Kitty is thus revealed to us readers by two observers, in one chapter first person narrative, third person in the other. One is selling the General, in the other it's selling Kitty. Meta- level perspective is the point with this book.


message 44: by Everymanjack (new)

Everymanjack Trish wrote: "David Foster Wallace is my favorite author. I've loved this book up to this point, but it is very painful to read this chapter since DFW had such a unique voice/writing style and is clearly being ..."

Sharon wrote: "This was a great chapter. Very well written and funny and said a lot. A great chapter to give us a good insight into the character of the Movie Star."


message 45: by Everymanjack (new)

Everymanjack Responding to Trish: Agree. I was enjoying Goon Squad a lot, and intend to finish it, but the DFW lampoon was a fist to the gut. He died Oct. 2008, she published 2010: the corpse can hardly have been cold when she wrote it. Nothing wrong with books that fist the reader's gut. But it mars the book two ways: for readers who know DFW, it throws the book off balance, and for readers who don't, it talks over their heads. You find your yourself wondering just who is this woman, and how did she feel when she got news of his suicide.


Nicole This was probably my least favorite chapter. I didn't really care for the characters in the chapter so it seemed to drag on for me for a very long time.


Annabel Smith Andre wrote: "Sara wrote: "I am beginning to think this book is a total waste of my time. Egan does not write men well. This chapter was terrible.
Awards are weird. If you read through the pulitzer nonfiction..."


As i was reading this I kept seeing connections between things and thinking how much I would get from a re-read. And I loved it enough to probably re-read it again immediately.


Annabel Smith Katie wrote: "I'm in the minority in that I loved this chapter. I think I just love cynicism, and movie stars are such easy targets. I enjoyed how he just decided to let it all hang out with this article and b..."

I agree "I'm like America" was such a striking comment. To follow it up with "our hands are dirty" was very powerful.


Annabel Smith Christie wrote: "Larry wrote: "Got to love those footnotes with the extra details. I am glad I actually read them instead of just scanning them as I do with most footnotes.

The Ibid in the one footnote was preciou..."


I'm with you guys. I don't love footnotes in general but i thought they worked brilliantly here, in fact, i found them more interesting than the body text. And funny.


Annabel Smith Glenda wrote: "Honestly, after reading all the comments here, I'm going to go back and read this chapter again. I found myself rushing through it because my eyes were glassing over. I really liked this book up ..."

If you don't like footnotes Infinite Jest will kill you. The entire book is like a footnote. I found it totally unreadable.


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