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Brief Interviews with Hideous Men

by David Foster Wallace
Read By John Krasinski et al.


Wow, this twenty-three story prose collection begins obtrusively, proceeds into the convoluted unknown and ends at a destination to which you had no idea you were going.

When I first slipped this CD into my player, I had no idea what I was in for, not having the luxury of having heard Wallace’s previous works. Krasinski’s narration is eerie and haunting in his reading of Wallace’s works. I first thought I had stepped into the middle of a story that I had not been privy to previously, but as I listened with more intent I realized that this was the story. Beginning with a man sitting outside watching swimmers at a pool, story one became a probing study of every detail of the event, pulling the listener into the emotional movement of the scene. Wallace's description of a diving board is poetic.

This review may seem to you to be somewhat ambiguous, but you need to listen to Brief Interviews with Hideous Men to understand it. Wallace brilliantly describes different men’s personalities in detailed, emotionally descriptive language that gives the listener an "inside looking out looking in" kind of perspective. Many of his descriptions are hideous and others are unfortunately true.

The book is written in an interview style where the listener does not actually hear the interviewer. The reader only hears the answer after the simplistically stated "Q" and is led through the interview, with the response being the descriptive study of the character or event. This was at first disconcerting, but as the stories are presented the reader does get the idea and it becomes easy to follow. This is an extremely unique and intriguing writing style.

I think it would be a good idea to read the jacket first in order to get an idea of the book’s concept and flow. I did not do that and was lost in the beginning. This audio book is not for everyone. If you are a fan of Wallace’s work, you will enjoy its intensity and become wrapped up in its intrigue. If you are not, you may savor it or simply turn it off and go to sleep.

The Book

Hachette Audio
September 8, 2009
Audio Book / 4 CDs / Appx 4 hrs, 10 mins / Unabridged
1600247377 / 978-1600247378
Literary fiction
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The Reviewer

Nicole Merritt
Reviewed 2009
© 2009