Stupid Questions for David Foster Wallace
Last night, while the rest of you were resting up for Hollywood's onanistic ode to itself (aka The Golden Globes), LAist was getting some culture in the form of David Foster Wallace, who read from his new collection of essays, Consider the Lobster at the Hammer Museum in Westwood.
Amid college cuties and L.A.'s limited literati, the long-maned California transplant (he teaches at Pomona College) read an essay on his September 11th experience called "The View from Mrs. Thompson's", which got a rave response from the audience, but the real fun came when D.F.W. opened the floor to questions.
A brief sampling:
Audience Member: Could you talk briefly about the role of God in your life?
D.F.W.: Could you?
[Audience member then explains his view of God to D.F.W., who was being sarcastic]
We were eating it up. So often authors feel the need to ingratiate themselves to their audience; D.F.W. challenges his. He was asked at length about the whole James-Frey-Is-a-Big-Fat-Liar debacle and he admitted that while his connection to the book was that "his sister had heard it on audiotape", while there is room to fudge in memoirs ("Who remembers what the weather was like the day their mother died?"), there is a line and that line seems to have been croosed.
He was asked why he thought A.A. and other orginizations had not come out against A Million Little Pieces. Since this had nothing to do with him, his writing or even any books he himself has read, D.F.W. answered, obviously a little irritated by his audience's complete disinterest in their speaker's own work, that it "probably has something to do with people handling their addictions in their own ways and not fucking with that, because you don't really want to shit on your own karma."
Finally, a ladies' book club asked an actual question: "Did D.F.W. make up words for masturbation in Infinite Jest?". D.F.W. looked confused and asked for an example. Grandma replied: "Priapism", pronouncing it pree-ap-ism. Nervous chuckling by the audience was followed by D.F.W. explaining just what the word means.
Just another evening of high culture in L.A.