Reassessing David Foster Wallace

Patricia Lockwood at the LRB:

I have always appreciated Wallace most in his monologues and I can, like my father, hear confessions all day; Hideous Men ought to be my book. Instead, I found myself generally standing opposite to Smith’s assessments: I think ‘Forever Overhead’ is juvenelia, I find ‘Church Not Made with Hands’ to be rank fraud, and I would like to put ‘Octet’ in my ass and turn it into a diamond. Attempts to operate in the register of the profound fail; poetry deserts him, having once been insulted; and I did not laugh once, and then for a different reason, until I got to the line, ‘That’s right, the psychopath is also a mulatto.’

The truth about Brief Interviews is this: it only gets good when we’re about to be raped. We are, for the purposes of this encounter, a daffy granola hippie whose hot body is momentarily shed of her poncho, as Hideous Man #20 tells the interviewer the story of the night she unwisely got into a stranger’s car: ‘I did not fall in love with her until she had related the story of the unbelievably horrifying incident in which she was brutally accosted and held captive and very nearly killed ... By this time she was focus itself, she had merged with connection itself.’

more here.