“All that live / Will share thy destiny.”[i]
I guess…I guess it’s because it doesn’t look that much like her. Because, and beyond the surgery, I mean, everyone is saying she looks great. And maybe it’s because I haven’t seen her in a few weeks, but she looks kind of like hell. I can’t imagine what she looked like 72 hours ago, back when she was still alive.
I guess that’s why it hasn’t really hit me yet. I guess that’s why, as I’m kneeling here before her sessile body, garbed in the same navy blue dress she wore to her daughter’s wedding 22 months ago and which is now about a size and half too big, that I’m having trouble fully conceptualizing that this is Aunt Pat, and that she is dead.
I usually close my eyes here, or look down at my hands, or look straight ahead at the underside of the open casket. I don’t like looking at the body, usually. But this time, I can, and it doesn’t seem to be a problem. Except that its not being a problem is kind of a problem, because I’m wondering why exactly I’m not having the same kind of response I usually do in this situation, which is to cry at least a little, regardless of who that person is. I’ve teared up when it was a great aunt I had never met before, and that was six months ago.
So why not now?
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First things first: This is not going to be a mere excuse to tell you how much I like David Foster Wallace’s short story collection, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men. For one, any loyal reader knows that already. Plus, I already have one series of posts where I write more than anyone should about something you almost certainly don’t like as much as I do.
No, this is more about a more general point, specifically the importance of a narrative arc. Even more specifically, about the importance of narrative arc within the context of John Krasinki’s film adaptation of Wallace’s short story.
Last year, John Krasinki released his directorial debut, an adaptation of “Brief Interviews with Hideous Men.” When I first heard about this film, I was surprised, and not just because it associated one of my favorite things with one of my least favorite things. I was surprised because the story seemed to me, as it likely did to most people who had read it, unfilmable. It is, as the title quite literally states, a series of interviews with unnamed men. If there is any connection at all between these men and the interviewer, or each other, it is not mentioned or even really hinted at. The interviewer, in fact, never speaks and is not characterized at all; there is no indication that it is even the same person in each interview (the dates and times given for each interview actually suggest that there is no single interviewer). Continue reading »