Girl with Curious Hair by David Foster Wallace
New York : W.W. Norton & Co., 1989. First Edition. Stated with full numbers line. Hardcover. 373 pages ; 22 cm. $17.95 dust jacket with minimal wear. Pages are clean and unmarked. Binding is firm.
"David Foster Wallace turns the short story upside down and inside out in Girt with Curious Hair, making the adjectives "inventive," "unique" and "original" seem blase. He is quick-blooded and good, and these are very fine stories indeed." —T. Coraghessan Boyle
David Foster Wallace's debut novel, The Broom of the System, provoked comparisons to Pynchon, Coover, DeLillo, and Tom Robbins for its intellectual reach and ambition and antic spirit, and marked him as a young writer to watch. The stories in his first collection of short fiction, Girl with Curious Hair, could represent an early flowering of post-postmodernism: visions of the world that reimagine reality with the eerily compelling presence of a holograph and the up-to-the-second feeling of the most advanced art.
In the title story a Los Angeles Young Republican relates, with strangely hilarious affectlessness, his night out at a Keith Jarrett concert with his terminally nihilistic punk friends Gimlet, Cheese, and Big. In "My Appearance" a very famous actress frets and schemes how to avoid being made the butt of a late-night talk-show host's notoriously slippery jokes, while "Little Expressionless Animals" gives us a three-year streak on a game show, finally halted by the contestant's idiot savant brother. "Lyndon" renders LBJ as seen by a fictional aide touchingly up close and vulnerable, a man crushed by responsibility. The concluding novella, "Westward the Course of Empire Takes
Its Way" is a bravura performance that draws on the resources of parody, pastiche, homage, fantasy, stories-within-stories, super-realism (just to cite a few of its techniques) to anatomize the kind of fiction appropriate to our late, but not yet exhausted, literary era.
Various in their subject matter and technique, united in their energy and wit and restless exploration, the stories in GirZ with Curious Hair render the incredible comprehensible, the bizarre normal, the absurd hilarious. In David Foster Wallace's hands "reality" has never seemed at once so ludicrous and so believable. His is one of the freshest talents in American fiction today— and surely tomorrow as well.
DAVID FOSTER WALLACE is a 1985 graduate of Amherst College and holds an M.F. A. in creative writing from the University of Arizona, Tucson. He has received a prestigious Whiting Writers Award and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. The stories in Girl with Curious Hair have appeared in Playboy, Arrival, the Paris Review ("Little Expressionless Animals," which received the 1988 John Train Humor Prize), Conjunctions, Prize Stories: O'Henry Awards 1988, and other publications. He now lives in Boston, Massachusetts, where he is doing graduate work in philosophy at Harvard University.
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