"Brief Interviews with Hideous Men," by David Foster...

Book Brief

August 15, 1999|By David Harsanyi | David Harsanyi,Knight Ridder/Tribune

"Brief Interviews with Hideous Men," by David Foster Wallace. Little, Brown. 320 pages. $24.

David Foster Wallace is a virtuoso of manic storytelling. He writes novels with a dense and complex style that can drain the reader.

With "Brief Interview," Wallace has matured, taking many of his inventive styles and paring them down into an entertaining whole. Interviews, pop quizzes and unusual angles fill the book's pages. Unlike in his earlier short-story collection, the somewhat flat "Girl With Curious Hair," Wallace's clever techniques enhance his satirical stories rather than distract from them.

Gloomy ruminations of tormented souls fill the pages of "Brief Interviews." From a man's anguished memory of his father's primal domination in "Signifying Nothing" to a woman's agony about her lifetime of psychological confusion in "The Depressed Person," Wallace takes us deep into the minds of his narcissistic characters.

Occasionally, Wallace wanders into Thomas Pynchon-like self-indulgence, but patient readers will find "Brief Interviews" to be a pleasing collection from a master of postmodern literature.

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