Archive for the 'Fiction' Category

New David Foster Wallace Story

Wednesday, January 31st, 2007

“Good People.”

I have to say I wasn’t blown away, which when it comes to DFW makes it a surprising exception. It’s not a bad story, it picks up a lot of steam as it goes, it’s just played really straight-up and kind of stiff, stylistically.

They were up on a picnic table at that park by the lake, by the edge of the lake, with part of a downed tree in the shallows half hidden by the bank. Lane A. Dean, Jr., and his girlfriend, both in bluejeans and button-up shirts. They sat up on the table’s top portion and had their shoes on the bench part that people sat on to picnic or fellowship together in carefree times.

Do you think this is a good opening? I don’t, really. “the bench part that people sat on to picnic”? The voice is naive, earnest, emotional, traditional, very “in-character,” but used in the third-person it caused a weird cognitive dissonance for me, because it sounds very un-DFW. When I re-read those sentences transposed into the first person, they don’t sound as stilted or melodramatic somehow. Or at least the melodrama feels a little more plausible.

Tupperware Party

Friday, November 17th, 2006

During the summer of 1995 I worked in the tupperware mines near Sault Ste. Marie. There were six of us to a team. We would single-file down the narrow mineshaft with our pickaxes and helmets to blast the tupperware out of the solid granite of the Canadian Shield. The first guy in line would pry a piece loose and hand it back to the guy behind him, who would pass it to the guy behind him, and so on until the last guy in line (which was me), who would would scramble towards the surface and toss it on the pile.

We had to be fast because on the way back up we’d all begin to wheeze and cough, from the tupperlung, the Betty Crocker lung. But hacking and choking towards daylight we realize, shit, we’ve gotta go back, we forgot the lid! You gotta get the lid, the whole thing is fucking useless without the lid!

It was a shitty job, but worth it, you know? For the leftovers, for the meatloaf and the stew and the tuna salad. How are you going to carry your tuna salad without tupperware? You can’t put that shit in a bag!

So next time you’re bringing your lunch to work with you, give a thought to the brave souls of Sault-Ste-Marie, wheezing from the tupperlung, the Betty Crocker lung, who made it possible.


Tuesday, October 17th, 2006

Him: In primary school whenever we answered a question, the teacher made us repeat the question with our answer or we’d be in trouble. Like, the teacher would ask “Why is the sky blue?,” and if you started with “Because…” she’d stop you and make you say the whole thing: “The. Sky. Is. Blue. Because…”

Her: Why’d you have to do that?

Him: Because you’re not supposed to start a sentence with the word ‘because,’ or something.

Her: Oh. So why is the sky blue?

Him: It reflects the colour of the oceans, and water is blue. I guess they asked us pretty tough questions back them. I should have hung onto my grade six notes.

Her: In math class we had to always show every little step, like if you were doing addition you had to write all the little ones in on the top, or it would be marked wrong.

Buddinski: Excuse me, sorry, I couldn’t help overhearing your conversation and actually, the reason the sky is blue is because of something called Rayleigh scattering. There are particles in the air that diffracts the blue wavelength of light but let all the other wavelengths pass through, so we see the sky as blue. Sorry, I didn’t mean to intrude….

Her: No, hey, don’t worry about it. Are you a scientist or something?

Buddinski: Me, no, I just when I heard you talking I remembered that. And actually, the reason that the oceans are blue is because they reflect the colour of the sky, not the other way around.

Her: I guess you learn something new every day!

Him: Where did you hear that about the oceans? Because that doesn’t sound right to me.

Buddinski: It’s something most people don’t know. Well, sorry for interrupting, have a nice afternoon.

Her: Sure, you too!

Him: Who the hell does that guy think he is? Why doesn’t he mind his own goddamn business?

Her: Oh, honey!