I planned on spending the evening going through all of David Foster Wallace’s books and pulling out some passages that have made me laugh or just smile, year after year and rereading after rereading. He moved the hell out of me as a reader, but he also made me laugh out loud and/or smile-while-shaking-my-head in a way no other writer ever has. Turns out making it through just the volume nearest to me on the table, “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again: Essays & Arguments," took the entire evening. I may try to continue this in the coming weeks, moving from book to book, though I may also decide it’s better for me not to.
From "E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction”
“For Metafiction, in its ascendant and most important phases, was really nothing more than a single-order expansion of its own great theoretical nemesis, Realism: if Realism called it like it saw it, Metafiction simply called it as it saw itself seeing itself see it.”
“i do have a thesis” (section heading, many pages in)
“Today, when we can eat Tex-Mex with chopsticks while listening to reggae and watching a Soviet-satellite newscast of the Berlin Wall’s fall — i.e., when damn near everything presents itself as familiar — it’s not a surprise that some of today’s most ambitious Realist fiction is going about trying to make the familiar strange.”
“When everybody we seek to identify with for six hours a day is pretty, it naturally becomes more important to us to be pretty, to be viewed as pretty. Because prettiness becomes a priority for us, the pretty people on TV become all the more attractive, a cycle which is obviously great for TV. But it’s less great for us civilians, who tend to own mirrors, and who also tend not to be anywhere near as pretty as the TV-images we want to identify with.”
From “Getting Away from Already Pretty Much Being Away From It All”
“In line before me are newshounds from Today’s Agriculture, the Decatur Herald & Review, Illinois Crafts Newsletter, 4H News, and Livestock Weekly.”
“There’s a compelling frictionlessness about the local TV reporters, all of whom have short blond hair and vaguely orange makeup. A vividness. I keep feeling a queer urge to vote for them for something.”
“The number of calls Mrs. Edgar says the line’s fielded just this year is both de- and impressive.”
“He smokes Marlboro 100’s but wears a cap that says WINSTON.”
“The operator says without looking at me that the matter of tickets this early on Opening Day ‘Ain’t no sweat off my balls.’”
“And he asks after my tire-treaded foot, very politely, before peeling out toward the chicken din.”
“One big girl with tattoos and a heavy-diapered infant wears a T-shirt that says "WARNING: I GO FROM 0 TO HORNEY IN 2.5 BEERS."
"Overhead, on the mezzanine, the THIGHMASTER lady’s still at it, on her side, head on her arm, smiling cross-eyed into space."
"The best description of the carnies’ tan is that they’re somehowsinisterly tan.”
From “David Lynch Keeps His Head”
“[FN] 11 (And as an aside, but a true aside, I’ll add that I have had since 1986 a personal rule w/r/t dating, which is that any date where I go to a female’s residence to pick her up and have any kind of conversation with parents or roommates that’s an even remotely Lynchian conversation is automatically the only date I ever have with that female, regardless of her appeal in other areas. And that this rule, developed after seeing Blue Velvet, has served me remarkably well and kept me out of all kinds of hair-raising entanglements and jams, and that friends to whom I’ve promulgated the rule but who have willfully ignored it and have continued dating females with clear elements of Lynchianism in their characters or associations have done so to their own regret."
From "Tennis Player Michael Joyce’s Professional Artistry As a Paradigm of Certain Stuff About Choice, Freedom, Limitation, Joy, Grotesquerie, and Human Completeness”
“[FN] 6 Most of the girlfriends have something indefinable about them that suggests extremely wealthy parents whom the girls are trying to piss off by hooking up with an obscure professional tennis player.”
“[FN] 26 I don’t know whether you know this, but Connors had one of the most eccentric games in the history of tennis — he was an aggressive 'power’ player who rarely came to net, had the serve of an ectomorphic girl, and hit everything totally spinless and flat (which is inadvisable on groundstrokes because the absence of spin makes the ball so hard to control). His game was all the stranger because the racquet he generated all his firepower from the baseline with was a Wilson T2000, a weird steel thing that’s one of the single shittiest tennis racquets ever made and is regarded by most serious players as useful for home defense or prying large rocks out of your backyard or something."
”[FN] 52 This is Canada’s version of the U.S.T.A., and its logo — which obtrudes into your visual field as often as is possible here at the du Maurier Omnium — consists of the good old Canadian maple leaf with a tennis racquet for a stem. It’s stuff like Tennis Canada’s logo you want to point to when Canadians protest that they don’t understand why Americans make fun of them.“
"Czech former top-tener Petr Korda is another clastic-looking mismatch: at 6'3” and 160, he has the body of an upright greyhound and the face of — eerily, uncannily — a fresh-hatched chicken (plus the soulless eyes that reflect no light and seem to 'see’ only in the way that fish’s and birds’ eyes 'see’).“
From 'A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again”
“Men after a certain age should not wear shorts, I’ve decided; their legs are hairless in a way that’s creepy; the skin seems denuded and practically crying out for hair, particularly on the calves.”
“Each deck’s got walkways outside, with railings made of some kind of really good wood.”
“[FN] 27 The single best vocab word from this week: spume (second-best was scheisser, which one German retiree called another German retiree who kept beating him at darts).”
“A lithe Canadian couple does a tango complete w/ pointy black shoes and an interdental rose."