Perhaps Wallace’s greatest critique of nihilism — greatest in that it escapes the confines of Ellis and his ilk’s literary purview — is Don Gately, erstwhile hero of Infinite Jest, a recovering Demerol addict and small time thief whose painful day-to-day existence figures as the existential struggle against bleak, overwhelming nothingness. Gately is the heart and spirit of IJ, a big sad throbbing heart that, to quote Wallace out of context (from above), is the writer’s way “to depict this [dark] world and to illuminate the possibilities for being alive and human in it.”

If you have interest in either Bret Easton Ellis or David Foster Wallace (I am assuming a taste for both is unlikely), read Biblioklept’s outstanding face/off post.

2 thoughts on “DFW vs. BEE

  1. >I have a taste both, I think. I think DFW is dead wrong about American Psycho, but his criticisms of the book applies better to the rest of BEE's books. BEE probably shares more in common with DFW's method of depicting the "language world" (not my concept) of his character in American Psycho than in anything else he's done. I don't have too much of a problem with character sketches or narratives that are not inspirational. I think Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Hamsun and even DFW himself (with Brief Interviews with Hideous Men) wrote some stories based on disturbing characters, but the stories are usually instructive despite this and so is American Psycho, which is not just a (admittedly very crude) satire. See this interpretation: http://www.galilean-library.org/manuscript.php?postid=43863

  2. >Thanks, Jordan, and welcome.It has been a long time since I read BEE books; my recollection of American Psycho is that it felt shallow, lacking in substance, pointless. I have no problem with unsympathetic characters, in fact I revel in them and the challenge they pose to readers.Of DFW I will be hold more conclusive views after finishing my first reading of IJ, which I am currently lapping up.

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