Brief Interviews with Hideous Men

[A series of men approach me on the subway as I read this book.]

The story ‘Signifying Nothing’ alludes to Macbeth.”
“I think you’ll really benefit from hearing my analysis through a feminist lens.”
“That story’s not upsetting, it’s edgy.”
“The book is better than the movie. I’m impressed that you’re reading a book.”
“Okay, but have you read Infinite Jest?”

Infinite Jest

[A guy starts chatting with me in a cafe as I read this book.]
“Seriously, I could go on about those endnotes forever. Oh, look at that—has it really been three hours? I guess time flies when you’re deep in brilliant conversation, ha! You’ve sure been quiet. Are you astounded by my sheer intellect, which must be a symbol of and/or compensation for the size of my penis? Hey, what’s so funny?”

A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again

[On a Tinder date with a guy who said this is his favorite book.]
“Yeah, I was reluctant to try Tinder, too. It seems like a good time, but you never know what weirdos you might find. Anyway, I’ve had a lot of fun today. I really enjoyed reading my entire dissertation aloud to you. I’ve never met another person who also likes critical analysis of prescriptivism in Wallace’s work. What? You actually said that you like snowboarding?”

Girl with Curious Hair

[A man approaches me as I sit in Central Park reading this book.]
“Hey girl, your hair is beautiful. Let me explain this book to you.”

This Is Water

[A waiter at a restaurant refills my water glass and addresses me, unprompted.]
“And did you know that he gave a commencement address to a college once? Did you know he was a MacArthur Fellow? And did you know that he killed himself? Did you know that I’m refilling your glass? Do you know what I’m filling it with? Do you?”

The Pale King

[Anytime, anywhere, with any man who has mansplained DFW to me, because they’re all white and think they’re great.]
“You just don’t get it until you’ve read him. I mean, sure, you’ve read books, but have you read David Foster Wallace? You have? But, have you ever read David Foster Wallace, and had a penis?”