Mostly (not) on McSweeney's!

A blog for my academic ideas, more or less.


“He tells Green that his phobic fear of timepieces stems from [his stepfather, [an Amtrak train conductor [with deeply unresolved issues [which he used to make Lenz wind his pocketwatch and polish his fob daily with a chamois cloth [and nightly make sure his watch’s displayed time was correct to the second [or else he’d lay into the pint-sized Randy with [a rolled-up copy of [Track and Flange, a slick and wicked-heavy coffee-table-sized trade periodical]]]]]]]].”

David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest (1996), p.557.

I’m using parentheses a bit loosely here as in they’re not indicating totally discrete clauses or sets of noun phrases but they’re representing where Wallace adds this extra level of sense to hold in your head to just fuck with you and force you to pay attention.

Other things I like about this sentence. Some of the adjectives:

  • phobic fear
  • deeply unresolved issues
  • pint-sized Randy
  • rolled-up copy
  • slick  and wicked-heavy coffee-table-sized trade periodical

That last one. Boy!

Thinking about Carver and realism and this post on good stories. Thinking about using tomorrow’s class on Carver to interrogate my own interests in realism and experimentation.

A Carver sentence for the hell of it:

“She looked into the back of the bakery and could see [a long, heavy wooden table [with aluminum pie pans stacked at one end]]; and beside the table [a metal container [filled with empty racks]].”

from ‘A Small, Good Thing’ (1983 (sort of)).

The parentheses here are reaching a bit? Should probably spend more time on this before tomorrow but going to watch football soon. Sometimes my better classes happen when I make stuff up while sitting in the lecture before the seminar. Carver’s adjectives: long, heavy, wooden, aluminum, metal, empty. LOL.


Filed under: teaching

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