AN INTERVIEW…

WITH THE LATE – AND (ARGUABLY) GREAT – DAVID FOSTER WALLACE, WHICH GETS INTERRUPTED TOWARD THE END BY THE LATE – AND (INDISPUTABLY) GREAT – CRAD KILODNEY

MICHAEL NATHAN WALKER: So, David, it’s really awesome of you to be here, to allow me to interview you and tell the world your answers to my questions.

DAVID FOSTER WALLACE: …

MNW: I suppose the first subject we ought to tackle is your novel, the novel I just finished reading for the third time.

DFW: …

MNW: Yeah, it’s quite an investment, personal-time wise, I mean there’s something like 1079 pages to read, and they’re not all in like numerical order; I mean the reader has to check back to this part of the book and then look ahead to another part of the book, and–

DFW: …

MNW: You’re right, you’re absolutely right. But at the same time –

DFW: …

MNW: Right.

DFW: …

MNW: I agree, I mean I think–

DFW: …

MNW: I mean I think I know what you mean. But I–

DFW: …

MNW: Right, I mean I don’t really know, I mean I guess I just think I know, I guess.

DFW: …

MNW: Ha.

DFW: …

MNW: Exactly.

DFW: …

MNW: Right, I mean I am gonna make myself look stupid by asking, but what happens at the end? It’s pretty much open to interpretation.

DFW: …

MNW: That’s what I thought.

DFW: …

MNW: I mean, I read “Infinite Jest” three times, I mean I read lots of other stuff in between those readings, but I read a 1079-page novel three times – three times, Dav d – and I am still not completely sure how everything ends up.

DFW: …

MNW: I know! I mean, that’s the way to make a reader flip back to the beginning of the novel and –

DFW: . .

MNW: I agree, it all makes sense, the whole thing, I mean Hal, Hal Incandenza, his whole thing was that he liked to get high by himself, secretly, and that –

DFW: …

MNW: .. Right.

DFW: …

MNW: Right.

DFW: …

MNW: And at the end, like at the end of the novel, like page wise, like not timeline wise, Hal–

DFW: ..

MNW: Ha.

DFW: …

MNW: Hal broke into Pemuli ‘s stash, and Hal–

DFW: …

MNW: Right.

DFW: …

MNW: That’s what I was trying to say, that w en–

DFW: …

MNW: H l was using his own personal Subs ance to get himself by.

DFW: …

MNW: Yeah, I realized it while I was typing it, “Himself,” that’s what Hal calls his deceased father in the novel–

DFW: …

MNW: Right.

DFW: ..

MNW: Right. Yeah, I mean, I mean I get it. I get the whole thing, the whole metaphorical thing with ETA protecting its students from the outside world, the world that wants to exploit them because of their talents and –

DFW: …

MNW: Right.

DFW: …

MNW: Totally, I mean it’s ironic as hell–

DFW: . .

MNW: Yeah!

DFW: …

MNW: That’s what I have been trying to tell people.

DFW: …

MNW: ETA keeps the outside world away from its students, nominally for the students’ best interest–

DFW: ..

MNW: Let me finish, then we’ll talk about that.

DFW: …

MNW: No, I apologize.

DFW: …

MNW: Anyways, the whole ETA philosophy is to shelter ETA students from outside interference, and the idea is that doing so will allow them to develop their own personal identities to a degree beyond doubt, but…

DFW: …

MNW: I mean like not totally “beyond doubt,” but like to the point where they are confident – like ETA students, I mean – are confident in their abilities to the point that nothing can touch them, metaphorically; like if some sportswriter picks their tennis apart and tells the world that they’re, like I mean the ETA-trained tennis player, male or female, that they’re not any good, or on the other hand that their tennis is the absolute–

DFW: …

MNW: Yeah, I mean–

DFW: . .

MNW: Yeah. The same thing applies if they’re terrible. Terrible at tennis, I mean. ETA is there to like shield them from criticism, until they’ve developed their own personal abilities–

DFW: ..

MNW: Right.

DFW: …

MNW: It took me three readings to get that, but yeah.

DFW: …

MNW: …

DFW: …

MNW: I want to thank you for this interview, D vid, I mean it’s not like this is an everyday sort of thing, your being so–

DFW: ..

MNW: God, tennis is a lot harder than it looks, I mean–

DFW: …

MNW: I know! God…

DFW: …

MNW: But when two people are both good at it…

DFW: …

MNW: Yeah!

DFW: ..

MNW: It’s like tennis is a metaphor for everything, and I have to say that while reading your novel I realized that–

DFW: …

MNW: I mean I realized that the whole individual versus another individual aspect of tennis, the whole self vs. another part, is, like–

DFW: .

MNW: Yes, as a m tter of fact I am drunk, I don’t really know what this has to do with–

DFW: …

MNW: Anyways thanks for being here. I kn w i too a l t of patience to sit still s I c uld see you an he r you.

DFW: …

MNW: Yeah, I know, but I am trying to write this interview within the parameters of your own, well, whatever.

DFW: .

MNW: Right.

DFW: …

MNW: Right, like with the wraiths and whatnot. I get it.

DFW: …

MNW: Right.

2 thoughts on “AN INTERVIEW…

    1. Sorry about that…

      The “interview” is an inversion (read: “ripoff”) of something DFW did several times in his fiction, in the novel mentioned above and in a short story collection titled “Brief Interviews With Hideous Men”: he would write interviews where the interviewee’s answers were given, but the interviewer’s questions were not. E.g.:

      ‘Q.’

      ‘Almost nobody. That’s a very good point. Almost nobody. I’m going to take a chance and just tell you I’m a little bit intimidated here.’

      It’s not difficult to intuit the gist of what the questions are, at least within the context of the overall novel or story or whatever.

      The inspiration (or whatever) for writing this post came while I was reading Crad Kilodney’s fiction. Kilodney used footnotes sometimes (DFW was notorious for foot- and endnotes) and he wrote about the type of people most authors don’t bother with, just everyday ordinary jackasses, dimwits, and perverts. DFW had a tendency to focus on things most authors wouldn’t — there is an exquisite (I don’t know any better word to describe it) scene in “The Pale King” that centers around a package of airline peanuts, for example — and I would bet anyone a dollar that DFW read Kilodney’s fiction and was influenced greatly by it.

      The fact that I can’t get on Twitter and ask “@DFW, you’re a Crad Kilodney fan, aren’t you?” is more or less what prompted me to write that “interview” yesterday after drinking a decent amount of cheap beer. DFW is dead, as mentioned above, and his non-responses are I suppose rather dark humor on my part.

      Crad Kilodney often omitted letters from words in his writing, e.g.:

      Clifford Schnau er was the goalie or the Mifflin Lemmings o the Minor A om AA Hockey League.

      I don’t know for sure, but I think maybe that, well, gimmick started with a malfunctioning typewriter, maybe, and ended up becoming, well, a stylistic sort of gimmick.

      I intend to write a post about Kilodney’s books at some point…many of them are available for free at cradkilodney.com, and I can’t quite put my finger on what it is exactly that appeals to me about his fiction — some of it is awful, in terms of content as well as sentence structure and syntax and whatnot — but I have in recent weeks read quite a lot of it. I actually have every book (all around 50 typed pages, printed by Kilodney’s own publishing company, Charnel House) that is available for free on his website on my phone, and when I get done with those I will probably seek out the ones that aren’t on the website.

      You’re probably familiar with the term “literary fiction”. Kilodney’s fiction is the exact opposite of that…which may or may not qualify it as “literary”.

      The fellow might have been a genius. Or maybe he was just nuts. Either way, his fiction is pretty interesting.

      I like it, anyways. And I’d bet a dol ar DFW did, too.

      But who reall kn ws?

      Reply

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