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Bret Easton Ellis on DFW Part II

Irish Times interview with Bret Easton Ellis, End of the novel, end of the empire , turns to David Foster Wallace:
“Never met him. Never responded to the work. I pretty much read everything he wrote because you were kind of supposed to. He is a big deal in American letters and . . . I never really liked anything he wrote. I tried to read Infinite Jest three or four times and never cracked it. I found the stories didn’t interest me. And I am in the minority: I didn’t like the essays either. He suffers from a kind of midwestern earnestness that I found unbearable. And I don’t think it is too soon . . . but I find his earnestness very irritating. I just finished reading this long book of interviews he did and . . . you can be too smart for fiction.
“The way he spoke about a lot of things is just not my school of thought. And yes, he was probably a genius. And yes, I was very moved by his death. I was very touched by his pain. I really was. It was a shock. And there was a really moving account of it by I think it was DT Max in the New Yorker . And, you know, I was in tears. But! Let’s just get real and separate the man, who I did not know, and the work.”
Bret Easton Ellis on DFW previously.


#1 keithrondinelli 2010-08-12 22:34
I generally like Ellis' work – I think "Less Than Zero" and "The Rules of Attraction" are good books. I even feel the need to occasionally defend "American Psycho" as being a fairly funny and brave attack on American corporate greed. But I find Ellis' remarks in this article way off base. He claims to have "read everything" Walace wrote, and then complains of a "Midwestern earnestness" that he finds unbearable. I imagine this earnestness can be found in DFW's nonfiction – some would say it's a hallmark of the essays and journalism, and also one of the things that are most interesting and brilliant about them, but I defy anyone to find "Midwestern earnestness" in, say, "Good Old Neon" or "The Soul is not a Smithy" or anything in "Brief Interviews". DFW was after many of the same things that Ellis is after: the dehumanizing effects of marketing and materialism and entertainment and celebrity, etc. The fact that Wallace did all of this better, smarter, makes Ellis jealous. Also, DFW was no fan of "American Psycho", claiming he was surprised that Ellis people let it be published, so I wonder if Ellis read this remark and is exacting some sort of writerly revenge in the above interview. Either way, Wallace we live on the history books and Ellis has already pretty much faded into 1980's memory.
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#2 rome8180 2010-08-13 09:04
Not only was Wallace not a fan of American Psycho, he criticized Ellis's work as a whole for being vapid and materialistic. So yeah, this seems like a petty revenge to me. Not to mention that it says a lot about Ellis that he would consider earnestness a flaw.
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