I wasn’t really that into the internet this week. Highlights: David Foster Wallace was a jerk, Macaulay Culkin is not who you think he is, Jeanne Calment might not have been the oldest living person, Joshua Yaffa’s Russia is worth paying attention to, the power of Parasite, Eminem finally lost himself in the moment, Kobe Bryant’s love of history, Harriet Tubman’s credit card, and the Westminster Dog Show.
I’ve never read anything by David Foster Wallace. I do not generally enjoy reading novels, and the first time I saw the sheer mass of Infinite Jest, and knowing how his fans exalt him as a writer of some kind of exemplary literature, I was immediately turned off.
Adrienne Miller’s new memoir, In the Land of Men, focuses on her relationship with Wallace (who was 10 years older than her), and “is a recollection of her career as an editor at glossy men’s magazines from the 1990s to the mid-2000s, and of the sexism she encountered on the job.” Laura Marsh’s review of the book, also references Lisa Halliday’s 2018 novel, Asymmetry, “which draws on the relationship she had with Philip Roth in the early 2000s, when she was in her early twenties and he was in his sixties.” While Marsh is sensitive to sexism and predatory behavior by older men, she also all contextualizes the books in the dissolution of the media and publishing industries, proposing that in a different environment, “perhaps these men would have been no more than glamorous cameos in a very different sort of story. As it is, we get skilled and unsparing portraits of them, largely on their own terrain.” We don’t live in that environment.
Maybe I should give Wallace, or Infinite Jest, a chance. But this review makes it hard for me to want to .