April 19, 2017

"For awhile, I was seeing a guy who really liked David Foster Wallace. He once forced me to do cocaine..."

"... by shoving it inside me during sex. He wasn’t the first man to recommend Wallace, but he’s the last whose suggestion I pretended to consider. So while I’ve never read a book by Wallace, I’m preemptively uninterested in your opinion about it. These recommendations from men have never inspired me to read Wallace’s magnum opus, Infinite Jest, or his essays, or stories, or even to take the path of least resistance and see the Jason Segel movie about him. Said recommendations have, however, festered over such a long period that they’ve mutated into deeply felt opinions about Wallace himself: namely, that he was an overly self-aware genius who needed a better editor and that I’d hate his writing."

Writes Deirdre Coyle in "Men Recommend David Foster Wallace to Me."

So that's how books are getting recommended these days.

It's a wonder anybody reads anything anymore. All these hideous men have marked the territory before your arrival, and now there are nothing but pissed on books. Who'd want to pick those things up?

77 comments:

John Lynch said...

Talk about baggage.

Tari said...

I have no opinion on Wallace, but I'm really disinclined to take a recommendation for so much as a cup of coffee from a woman who has the bad judgment to sleep with a man like that. If she's that stupid, perhaps she deserves the coke as well as Wallace.

tim in vermont said...

I tried reading Infinite Jest, and the part about needing an editor is dead on. I may still finish it, as an exercise in self-discipline, but it started out GREAT, and seems to have fallen off quickly. Maybe it is a setup for better stuff.

Earnest Prole said...

Let me condense her essay to its unintended essence: When most men are shitty to you, it’s not the men, it’s you.

sojerofgod said...

I tried to read the article but it was too much. so I skimmed it, it got too long after about 4 paragraphs. To summarize, ...no there it too much. Let me sum up.
Aspiring female writer bitches about men in her upper middle class social circle in the northeast blathering on about how men she has dated (screwed?) all jones on about some middlebrow writer that most of the world has never heard of. Her theme is how badly men suck and how tired she is of having this book shoved in her face.
Her moral is ?
What a waste of 5 perfectly good minutes this all was.

tim in vermont said...

When most men are shitty to you, it’s not the men, it’s you.

You mean like Carly Simon?

And what kind of man shoves a numbing drug into her lady parts while having sex? I am assuming, I guess, maybe he stuck it in her ear. Maybe he was just putting it on his own parts to last longer. We probably need Laslo to answer that one.

rcocean said...

"I am assuming, I guess, maybe he stuck it in her ear. Maybe he was just putting it on his own parts to last longer."

I'm also curious as "Inside me" means in this context. Cocaine sprinkled on the Condom? Cocaine jammed up her ass while she was being penetrated?

Or is this a cocaine "Deep Throat" situation?

Anyway, she should write more about her sex life, and less about Men giving her unwanted book advice. Don't we all get obsessives wanting you to read the latest Philip Roth novel or watch some Kubrick movie?

Laslo Spatula said...

I love David Foster Wallace, but I would never recommend his work to a woman.

Read into that statement what you will.

I am Laslo.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

Diedre now has two things to file under "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again".

Ficta said...

There's really nothing about Infinite Jest I'd want to do without, so, I'm glad his editor (who is a friend of a friend, actually) didn't take anything out. Well, maybe, some of the longer tennis academy descriptions, maybe.

@tim_in_vermont If you've gotten to where they play a game of "Eschaton" and are still unimpressed, it's probably not for you. But if you haven't, keep going at least that far (page 325, maybe) if you can. And don't skip the footnotes, the book will make a lot less sense if you don't read them.

rcocean said...

Certain authors/books/directors attract almost cult-like devotion. For example:

Cather in the Rye
2001 A space odyssey
Game of Thrones
The Wire
Stanley Kubrick
Philip Roth
DFW
J.D. Salinger

Fans will button-hole you and demand you read/see it because it will "blow your mind" and if criticize the author/director on the internet - look out. The "fans" will come after you, sneering that you just "don't get it".

Matthew Sablan said...

There was a section of my shelves with things by Jane Austen, George Elliott and a few others that I collected during college, and a friend of mine asked: "Is this your shelf of things your girlfriends suggested you read that you hated?"

And I said: "No, my teachers."

To be fair, the only one I actually hated was Middlemarch.

CJ said...

"...by shoving it inside me during sex."

Sounds like Diedre is taking some "artistic license" here. Cocaine is certainly not a sex-enhancer. My guess is she saw that scene in The Wolf of Wall Street where Leo is blowing coke into the hooker's ass and decided to use it in her own story.

I very much doubt even Jordan Belfort actually did that. Boofing drugs is a thing, certainly, but forcibly shoving coke into an unwilling orifice 1) seems too difficult to accomplish and 2) certainly too difficult to accomplish without a sexual assault charge.

rcocean said...

"I love David Foster Wallace, but I would never recommend his work to a woman."

Oh, so women just aren't good enough to read DFW? Listen Mr. Man, we don't need you to censor yourself in order to protect us. Its 2017, not 1817.

Of course, here it is the other way:

"I love David Foster Wallace, but I always recommend his work to women."

Oh, so women need men to tell us what to read? Listen Mr. Man, we don't need you manplain - we can choose our own books. Its 2017, not 1817.

Earnest Prole said...

You mean like Carly Simon?

It's been forty years since I last thought about Carly Simon, so you’ll have to remind me.

Fernandinande said...

rcocean said...
Cather in the Rye


Catheter in the Rye.

CJ said...
Cocaine is certainly not a sex-enhancer.


Actually it is, but I don't believe her story about shoving.

tim in vermont said...

I actually love the tennis stuff, which seems really authentic, I get the feeling that he is faking authenticity elsewhere. I will stick it out, though.

Michael K said...

"What a waste of 5 perfectly good minutes this all was."

Thank you for wasting it so I don't have to.

I've never heard of the book or writer.

I think that may be a good thing.

buwaya said...

Why does she assume that powerful men read David Foster Wallace?
It seems a rather narrow subset of men.
Books that women would never, ever read, so don't bother trying, but your sons may like (YMMV). Of course, if a woman wants to challenge herself, go for it. Just a random sample of paper books (fiction) in my office shelves -

Gates of Fire - Pressfield
The Gun - C.S.Forester
A Soldier of the Great War - Helprin

roesch/voltaire said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
buwaya said...

Gene Wolfe is the most under-appreciated cult writer in the US. And there is a Gene Wolfe cult, though not a large one.

roesch/voltaire said...

Fortunately both men's and women's book clubs flourish in my neighborhood but we do not force each other to read the same books, although occasionally we do recommend books to each other, or find that our choices over-lap; the Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen was one. But The Prize by Daniel Yergin was read by only the men, and Zadie Smith's Swing Time seemed more a women's book according to the Males, although I read it and enjoyed it on my daughter recommendation.Next we are reading Blitzed by Ohler, but I think no one will be forced to use cocaine:)

traditionalguy said...

Fifty Shades of Cocaine. The new female porn.

As a watcher of many episodes of Forensic Files, I can testify that generally bad men attack a woman because they can, but bad women attack a man because of money.

buwaya said...

Any woman who would even crack "United States Naval Operations in World War II" Samuel Eliot Morison, ed., would be nearly unique, one out of 160 million.
If you are going to challenge women to transcend gender limitations, try that.

buwaya said...

"The Prize" is also a very male book indeed. A pity as it is extremely educational about the ways of the real world.

Birches said...

This is the life our Coastal Elites want to provide for the rest of us...

tim in vermont said...

If Althouse wants to monetize this blog without changing it too much, I don't know why she wouldn't do a kind of book club. Announce a book, later have a few threads, sell them through the portal of course, to those so inclined.

Sebastian said...

Slightly OT: I hesitate to suggest blogging topics to our hostess, but I'd be curious about her and others' discussion of what books/authors we haven't read, or stopped reading quickly, but nonetheless have strong opinions about. I could hold forth about my aversion to Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

buwaya said...

Re Marquez - instead of "One Hundred Years of Solitude", try Kosters' "The Dissertation". More creative and more fun. Both are guy books.

Roughcoat said...

Mark me down as someone who has never read Wallace and has only a passing familiarity with him.

Nor have I ever shoved cocaine up a woman's hoo-ha.

Roughcoat said...

Which "The Prize" are we talking about?

Roughcoat said...

And why is Carly Simon in this conversation?

Sebastian said...

"Both are guy books." See, I know for a fact that's not the case. The woolly magical realism, the unmooring of plot and narrative, the sheer excess of words surely disqualify Marquez. I just know it.

Kirk Parker said...

"Who'd want to pick those things up?"

Calling Laslo... that line works well for people like Deirdre Coyle too.


Buwaya,

OK, that's fiction, but you can add just about any work of military history (or even history of military significance) to that list too.

And no that's not sexist: what's the percentage of female-to-male readers of Barbara Tuchman's The Guns Of August or Stilwell and the American Experience In China? (I could no more get my wife to read either of those that I could get her to... oh, nevermind... even though she read, loved, and benefited from A Distant Mirror.)

[And I just saw your later post about Samuel Eliot Morison; yes indeed.]

Michael K said...

Just a random sample of paper books (fiction) in my office shelves -

Gates of Fire - Pressfield
The Gun - C.S.Forester
A Soldier of the Great War - Helprin


All to the good. I am currently working my way through Cornwell's "Richard Sharpe" series. Pretty good history, as is usually the case with his novels. I mostly use Kindle for fiction.

Michael K said...

"I don't know why she wouldn't do a kind of book club. "

Chicagoboyz kind of does that. So does Ace.

madAsHell said...

I tried reading a collection of David Foster Wallace's short stories....because of recommendations here at Althouse. The first one was "Mr. Squishy". It was a story about marketing a snack food while someone free climbs the side of the building.

I never read the second one.

buwaya said...

But Marquez is actually trying to explain something real, history, culture, a process, something external to the self is his entire point, even if he does it in a fictional setting and with excessive literary pretension. He doesn't really give a rats ass about any characters feelings beyond their utility in his narrative.

Kirk Parker said...

"There's really nothing about Infinite Jest I'd want to do without, so, I'm glad his editor (who is a friend of a friend, actually) didn't take anything out. Well, maybe, some of the longer tennis academy descriptions, maybe."

Heh. I just found out that the original edition of M. M. Kaye's lesser magnum opus (Shadow of the Moon) had 55% of its content cut by her first editor and/or publisher. Oops.

Owen said...

buwaya: "Gates of Fire" by Pressfield may be one of the best books ever. Absolutely inspired. And no cocaine required.

buwaya said...

See, guys can usually do girl-books, but girls very rarely can do actual guy-books. We men have the edge in catholic tastes.

M M Kaye's "Far Pavilions" is a romance novel of the best sort, and I quite liked it. And of course "Gone With The Wind", "The Good Earth", etc.

Jeff Brokaw said...

I've never read any Wallace books, but have read some of his stuff people have copied into various blogs. and have always thought his writing very good in those samples. Intriguing, to say the least. I need to dig into that some more.

I have not read fiction in years but in the 1980s I liked Tom Robbins a lot. Weird but charming and funny and lots of good wisdom in the best of them, which for me was "Jitterbug Perfume" and "Still Life With Woodpecker". Here are some good quotes from Jitterbug. One of my favorites: "The rich are the most discriminated-against minority in the world. Openly or covertly, everybody hates the rich because, openly or covertly, everybody envies the rich. Me, I love the rich. Somebody has to love them. Sure, a lot o’ rich people are assholes, but believe me, a lot o’ poor people are assholes, too, and an asshole with money can at least pay for his own drinks."

sojerofgod said...

Some other books most chicks won't read:

Starship troopers by R.A.H.
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by A. Doyle
Gateway by Fredrick Pohl - I don't know about this one so much, it is full of psychoanalysis and (urggh) ...Feelings.

I could go on.

Ficta said...

@buwaya Gene Wolfe is amazing. I'm in a book club that reads only Gene Wolfe (it's a very small book club: 3 people, but it used to be slightly larger).

Michael K said...

"See, guys can usually do girl-books,"

I think of a man and take away reason and accountability.

It's easy to do.

Owen said...

Michael K: "I think of a man and take away reason and accountability."

Go to your room!

Sigivald said...

The Wallace fan-club has, however, made me not want to read his books, without my having to be female or be forcibly cocaine'd.

Gahrie said...

Some other books most chicks won't read:

The Gor books.....though now, with the popularity of Fifty Shades...that might change.

Bill Peschel said...

The first couple of Gor books were pretty good pulp adventure fiction with a relatively small (to the later books) amount of what we in our D&D group called "beatthewomenbeatthewomen" stuff.

I'm glad to see the reviews of her article match my impressions so I won't have to read it (especially "if all your sex partners are recommending DFW, the problem is you").

readering said...

I never read articles by non-practicing mermaids.

Friendo said...

adding to Buwaya's 10:11 list:
Outer Dark and/or Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy

James Lileks said...

" This is why it’s hard to distinguish my reaction to Wallace from my reaction to patriarchy. This insistence that I read his work feels like yet another insistence that The Thing That’s Good Is The Thing Men Like."

It's consoling to think that the only thing more exhausting than dealing with people like this is being a person like this.

Michael K said...

""Gates of Fire" by Pressfield may be one of the best books ever. "

Pressfield is a terrific writer. His non-fiction book about the Six Day War is terrific. Even my wife liked it.

buwaya said...

Come to think of it, as a youth I once, in all sincerity, gave a girlfriend (for whom I'd suffered through Kahlil Gibran, who seems to have been fashionable at the time) - Marcus Aurelius "Meditations" - which should be on any intelligent young mans reading list.

She accepted it politely enough. She was, however, a much more cheerful sort than this lady writer seems to be.

So, been there, done that.

Yet another book for the "men only" list. Its a pretty monumental list come to think of it.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

How man young men have to sit through years of bad lady-authors in school? I mean, isn't there a Maya Angelou pipeline directly into most middleschools? She's not even the worst.

"How you feel about authors you've been repeatedly told are great and/or forced to read" could be an interesting topic. "How you feel, as a woman, about a male author that lots of men have insisted is great" seems less interesting. But hey, I'm a man--discount as necessary.

Matthew Sablan said...

""How you feel about authors you've been repeatedly told are great and/or forced to read" could be an interesting topic."

-- It makes me question experts more. Like, most recently. I'm told Once is a great movie. But... it is amateurish and the camera work is terrible. The sound quality on regular dialog is crap. The music is pretty, but the movie? Terrible. Just look at the Oscars' choices for "Best Film," for example.

buwaya said...

"How man young men have to sit through years of bad lady-authors in school?"

Very true, it is a huge scandal.

Most schools, and this is not only public schools, do their absolute best to discourage kids from reading by giving them utter garbage to read. I have spoken to plenty of schoolteachers over the years on just this, and they simply don't get it.

They have a fixed idea of what literature is, and they utterly lack any breadth or insight.

Kirk Parker said...

sojerofgod,

"I could go on"

A Canticle for Leibowitz.

buwaya said...

"A Canticle for Leibowitz"

My favorite book of all time.
Women DO actually read it. A few.

Kirk Parker said...

buwaya,

"They have a fixed idea of what literature is, and they utterly lack any breadth or insight."

Althouse herself has written against the idea that reading must be about fiction. In that vein, for anyone (and particularly young men) dying a thousand deaths reading that dreck, why not something like Robert K. Massie's Dreadnaught? The amazing early chapter(s) about Her Majesty's Navy under sail are alone worth the price of admission. Or Manchester's biography of Churchill. Or, heck with that, Churchill's own The River Wars or The Malakand Field Force? The latter two are, of course, available as free Kindle editions (and probably in other format via the Gutenberg Project.)

Ficta said...

I run a "Great Books" reading group (yes, this is different from the "All Gene Wolfe" group) and when I tell people what we read ("tough sledding" is a good description), they sometimes say, "Ha, no women in the group, I take it". Which is kind of a strange response, since we usually have more women members than men...

buwaya said...

Hi Kirk,

Spot on.
"Killer Angels" (Shaara, novelization of the battle of Gettysburg) would make superb school reading for boys.
And it does show up on some school lists.

"The River War" would get kicked off all such lists because of the famous comment on Muslims.
A pity, its a great book. "Malakand" is much more a piece of period reportage, which of course is superior to most of what we get these days.

buwaya said...

To add, my wife, soon after I'd met her, made me read "A Room with a View" (E.M.Forster), for her own reasons I guess.

So I at least was in the authoresses position. Granted, "A Room with a View" is much shorter than "Infinite Jest" and it is by "A Passage to India" Forster, so its not bad. A bit of a trifle, but not bad.

Bill said...

I manspreaded while reading her ridiculous essay.

walter said...

"I Got Cocaine Blown Up My Ass So You Don't Have To"

Michael K said...

"Malakand" is much more a piece of period reportage, which of course is superior to most of what we get these days.

Do you know that the Afghan villages mentioned in Malakand are still there and are focal points of the war ?

HoodlumDoodlum said...

buwaya said.."Killer Angels" (Shaara, novelization of the battle of Gettysburg) would make superb school reading for boys.

I read it in 7th grade, for a Civil War class! Good book, made me read his others. Probably lionizes Longstreet a bit much, but very well written and engaging.
The 1993 movie "Gettysburg" is based mostly on Killer Angels--Martin Sheen as Robert E Lee is better than you might expect.

I got my nephew a copy of Johnny Tremain for his last birthday, but I don't think he's read it yet. If it's good enough for Bart Simpson, though...

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Also: is forcing someone to take an illegal substance, presumably against their will, while having sex not, you know, a super-big felony? Like, rape-rape? Is that..is that something that's not a big deal now? I'm a flyover unsophisticate, so please pardon me if that's a silly question.

buwaya said...

"Do you know that the Afghan villages mentioned in Malakand are still there and are focal points of the war ?"

Alexander the Great probably razed them back in his day.

JLScott said...

If a writer starts out using "awhile" instead "a while", she is kindly giving you an indication of how intelligent the rest of the piece is likely to be. In this case, you should take heed.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Me, I read anything. Or, at this point, mostly re-read, because even in this big house we're basically out of wall space.

Anyway ... just in the last two weeks we've got Wodehouse's Service With a Smile, Chesterton's Autobiography, a collection of fairy-tale rewrites called Once Upon a Crime, Borges' Labyrinths, Catherine Aird's Injury Time, Stephen King's It and The Stand,, and an anthology each of sci-fi and mysteries. I'm just enumerating the books by my bed here. I'm not even counting the stuff on Kindle. But I swear that I've dipped into all of those in the last fortnight. (You can't really do much more than dip into The Stand. The thing's about 1400 pages long.) Finished the Wodehouse (again) last night, and this morning stupidly went out with nothing but the WSJ.

Oh, Orson Scott Card. He's not been in the past two weeks, but I've read the Ender Quartet and its "shadows" often enough that I can quote them.

Biotrekker said...

I HAVE read David Foster Wallace, and the irony is that DFW was keenly aware of the female perspective, went out his way to use "she" rather than "he" reflexively in his essays when referring to generalized humans and often wrote integral female main characters in his fiction eg. - the main character of his first major fiction - "The Broom of The System" is Clarisse Beadsman - a woman, who is thought by many to metaphorically represent DFW himself.

Michael K said...

"Alexander the Great probably razed them back in his day."

The same names are in recent reports.

Tinderbox said...

Self-enforced ignorance and Philistinism are held forth as culturally heroic today.

gpm said...

Michael K and Roughcoat: While we're talking about books, I just finished reading "What Parish Are you From?" by Eileen McMahon, published in 1995. After a couple of opening chapters about the general origins of the Irish in the U.S. and in Chicago, it's a history through the 60s of St. Sabina's at 79th and Throop, an Irish-dominated parish less than a mile from where I grew up during the 50s and 60s in St. Justin Martyr, just west of 73rd and Ashland (not my tribe, BTW, though St. Justin was also heavily Irish; my mother was from the German Catholic group a bit further north in Englewood/West Englewood, while my father was, of all things, from a protestant Scottish family living about a block away from St. Justin since the 20s; parents had to marry in the rectory at St. Justin, not the church, because, well, just because).

While I well remember the racial tensions from that era (e.g., Martin Luther King was leading open housing marches to Marquette Park starting two blocks away from our house the summer after I graduated from St. Justin in 1967, NTM the riots following the King assassination while I was at St. Ignatius near downtown), it was interesting to read about the efforts (which I knew nothing about) to draw on the neighborhood strength to maintain the neighborhood and allow for an orderly and nondisruptive integration of the immigrants from the burgeoning "black belt" (including passing appearances by your favorite neighborhood activist). In the end, of course, the effort was a more or less complete failure, as it was a few years later in the St. Justin neighborhood.

After the buildup, the book doesn't provide much of an explanation of the failure. Pretty much just a reference to an incident (which I don't recall) where a white teenager was killed by a black teenager near the church, which supposedly caused all the whites to change their minds and decide to leave. Also a passing reference to the "racist" Father Lawlor, whose views also proved out to be true.

--gpm

Zach said...

Much like John Updike (I don't think he'd enjoy the comparison), I've never liked his fiction, but his nonfiction essays are very good.

Cathy Mallon said...

Not-so-good-female-authors leave a bad taste..I think it would be a great idea to use a male pseudonym