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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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Dallas Wiertella
Dallas Wiertella
Multimedia Editor

Through my experience here at the North Wind I have been able to have the privilege of highlighting students through all forms of multimedia journalism. Whether I'm in front or behind the camera, I aim...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

NEVER STOP RUNNING — Many people turn to the treadmill once temperatures start to drop. The truth is, with proper protection, you can keep running outside as long as youd like.
Opinion — Outdoor exercise in the chilly seasons
Harry StineDecember 5, 2023

Review: Brief interview with hideous man

B.I. #73 01-14

Marquette MI

“Brief Interviews with Hideous Men” is about sex. Fictionally real sex. Prepubescent sex. Younger sister of wife’s college roommate sex. Chickens as metaphors sex. Repressed memories of dad waving his junk in front of your face sex.

But this book is about much more than sex. This book is about relationships. Relationships that occur between people with very real pasts, pasts that affect their very current presents. It is written so brilliantly that it is hard not to develop some sort of empathy, or sympathy, or whatever it is, for these “hideous men.”

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David Foster Wallace was born sometime in the ’60s somewhere in New York. He killed himself in 2008.

Between the time of his birth and death, he wrote. He wrote about humanity. He wrote about what it means to be human in an absurd world that writhes with contradictions.

He wrote about ugly people. He dredged his characters’ souls until a faint glimmer could be seen in the muddy bottom of their hearts.

He wrote three novels (one published posthumously), three short story collections and nine books of essays. Recently, “The David Foster Wallace Reader” was released, which contains a large selection of his life’s work.

It is hard for me not to label David Foster Wallace as a genius. The topics of his writing range everywhere from tennis to philosophy to math to lobsters.

He could seemingly write about anything, sounding (and probably was) like an expert while doing so.

He taught creative writing and English at Pomona College, Illinois State University and Emerson College.

“Brief Interviews with Hideous Men,” published in 1999, was Wallace’s second collection of short stories. These short stories aren’t your mother’s short stories. They redefine form, which if you aren’t familiar with post-modernist writing, might throw you for a loop. But its not just about form either, the voice that these characters have is genuine. Which comes down to sentence structure, people don’t talk in perfectly formed sentences with verb and noun and maybe an adverb to spice things up. They don’t have nicely edited, smooth sentences when they talk, the people.

Wallace wrote like people talk. You can hear the characters talk, something that contrived dialogue can never do. Even accents read well and never hinder the flow of sentences.

The first story, “A Radically Condensed History of Postindustrial Life,” is two paragraphs long. Truly radically condensed. Truly poetic.

“Datum Centurio” can only loosely be called a short story. It takes the form of a dictionary entry for “date” from the “Leckie & Webster’s Connotationally Gender-Specific Lexicon of Contemporary Usage” (copyright 2096). Apparently in 80 years the word “date” will connote something very different, including but not limited to “The creation and/or use of a Virtual Female Sensory Array…for the purposes of Simulated Genital Interface.”

The centerpiece of the collection are the brief interviews. Four separate sections span the length of the book, most dealing with sex or some sort of gender           related issue.

Brief interview #48 talks of a particular man’s fetish of tying up women on the third date, only after a very thorough process of what he likens to {flexion of upraised fingers to signify tone quotes} chicken-sexing. Or determining if the woman is susceptible to such an action. The man will never, at least according to the interview, do anything until the woman consents, asking them right out with a straight face.

We find out in the interview that the motivation for this comes from a deep-seated childhood memory. Adorable.

Most of the interviews are like this— some, well, hideous man with a perversion or fetish, which in mainstream culture would most likely be looked down upon, talks frankly about what he’s into.

The questions of the interviewer are denoted as “Q,” but what the actual question is is left to the readers’ imaginations and contextual evidence. It feels almost as if you, the reader, are interviewing.

Even though you may start an interview feeling disgust or revulsion towards the interviewee, by the end a wave of empathy washes over the reader, and for a moment there is understanding, or maybe not.

But that is the wonderful thing about this book, you feel real hate, real pity, real feelings which only good writing can induce.

This is a testament to David Foster Wallace, the ability to write people,  marginalized people,   to break away the outer layers of that person, to  get to an essence of what it means to be human in a f—ed up world.

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