I was bogged down with academic work (teaching/researching/writing/etc) in September and only managed to finish two books.
Brief Interviews With Hideous Men, David foster Wallace
Probably DFW’s most famous short story collection because of the John Krasinski film adaptation by the same name, Brief Interviews is an eclectic collection of stories that runs a gamut from an inventive retelling of several mythological stories set in the film world of Southern California (“Tri-Stan: I Sold Sissee Nar to Ecko”) to a two part story about an awkward marriage (“Adult World” I and II), the second part presented as an outline of the story, to the eponymous story scattered among the other stories. The narrator of that story is left unheard, leaving the individual men to answer unknown questions and reactions to be seen only through the interviewer’s punctuation. The stories were all over the place, and there were different levels of difficulty and different levels of reward for the stories. One (I think Amazon) review called David Foster Wallace the “Mad Scientist” of American literature. The title is appropriate for this collection.
I should also point out that I watched the movie several years before I connected it to David Foster Wallace. The reviews were universally poor, but I actually enjoyed it.
The Rebel, Albert Camus
Subtitled “An essay on man in revolt,” The Rebel is a book length essay that approaches metaphysical, historical, and fictional (literary) aspects to the concepts of rebellion and revolution. Like other French intellectual essays, this book was not an easy read, as Camus drew in discussions of sources as broad as Dostoevsky, Marx, Marquise de Sade, and Montaigne. He argues that it is all but impossible for a revolution to succeed without abandoning ethical values that the rhetoric of revolution espouses. The contradiction, he says, comes in that without transgressing the values, the revolution achieves nothing, but by transgressing the values the revolution necessarily abandons them. The Rebel is challenging, but it is both persuasive and eminently quotable. It was a rewarding read and I am now looking forward to reading his novels.
October is going to be another month with only a little time to read, but I am starting what time there is with Orhan Pamuk’s Snow