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Home News by Category General Updates The Letterman Interview that Inspired "Late Night" / "My Appearance"

The Letterman Interview that Inspired "Late Night" / "My Appearance"

[Image via Playboy]

Okay, now this is interesting! Redditor, disumbrationist, seems to have found the original 1987 interview that inspired David Foster Wallace's short story,"Late Night" (via Playboy), collected as "My Appearance" (Via Vulture) in Girl With Curious Hair!

via Reddit /r/davidfosterwallace:

It turns out that the 1987 Letterman interview that inspired this story is actually now available on YouTube here (the interview starts at 8:54).

In case you're not aware, Wallace got in serious trouble when, right before the story was to be published in Playboy, the editors were astonished to discover that the character bore a striking resemblance to the real actress Susan St. James, and significant chunks of the dialogue had apparently been lifted directly from her Late Night interview on March 3, 1987.

So I thought it was pretty interesting to watch this after reading the original version of the story (available here) and to pick out which details were lifted from the real thing. I can definitely understand why there were huge legal concerns here. It looks like most of these were altered or removed before a revised version was published in Girl With Curious Hair.
  • Letterman greets her by saying "Terribly nice to see you" (at 9:12 in the video)
  • They start discussing her commercial appearance (at 12:43)
  • She claims that she "did the commercial for fun" (at 13:02), like in the story. This line was altered to "for nothing" in the newer version.

Continue to read all of disumbrationist's analysis over at Reddit here.

More on this story from Playboy, The Letterman Clip That Became David Foster Wallace's First Print Story.

Last Updated on Friday, 22 May 2015 08:22  

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