Appreciation of the Hideous …

18 Feb

“Pop Quiz 7

A lady marries a man from a very wealthy family and they have a baby together and they both love the baby a lot, although as time goes by they become less and less keen on each other, until eventually the lady files divorce papers on the man.  The lady and the man both want primary custody of the baby, but the lady assumes she’ll ultimately be the one to get primary custody because that’s how things usually shake out in divorce law.  But the man really wants primary custody a lot.  Whether this is because he has a strong paternal urge and really wants to raise the baby or whether he just feels vindictive about getting served with divorce papers and wants to stick it to the lady by denying her primary custody is unclear.  But that’s not important, because what is clear is that the man’s whole wealthy and powerful family all line up behind the man w/r/t this issue and think he should get primary custody (probably because they believe that since he’s a scion of their family the man should get whatever he wants — it’s that kind of family.)  But so the man’s family comes around and tells the lady that if she fights their scion for primary custody of the baby they’ll retaliate by taking away the lavish Trust Fund they’d established for the baby at birth, a Trust Fund sufficient to render the baby financially secure for life.  No Primary Custody, No Trust Fund they say.  So the lady (who’d signed a pre-nup, by the way, and has absolutely nothing in the way of remuneration or spousal support coming from the divorce settlement regardless of how the custody issue is resolve) walks away from the custody fight and lets the man and his hardass family have custody of the baby so that baby will still have the trust fund.

Q: (A) Is she a good mother.

(B)(optional)  Explain whether and how receipt of the information that the lady had herself grown up in an environment of unbelievably desperate poverty would affect your response to (A.)


This is an excerpt from Brief Interviews With Hideous Men, by David Foster Wallace, (Back Bay Books 2007.)  This book of short stories and interviews is simply amazing.  (I hope the interviewees are fictitious.  It’s not hard to imagine some of these people actually existing, but for the sake of humanity I hope they don’t.)

Ryan gave me this book while I was visiting last and I haven’t been able to put it down.  My favorite part of this book is the way Wallace challenges you, as the reader to not only create these indifferent characters being interviewed, but you then have to create the interviewer in your mind, not knowing the questions they’re even asking to spark such insane remarks!!!  It’s Genius!  I highly recommend this book.  Whether the installments are a rigorous read or an effortless one, they’re all amazing.

2 Responses to “Appreciation of the Hideous …”

  1. adr February 18, 2009 at 1:19 pm #

    I love DFW. he was a brilliant author who sadly passed way too early. Check out Oblivion and Infinite_Jest(though i haven’t read it i hear it’s great)

  2. Sky February 18, 2009 at 1:24 pm #

    I think Ryan told me about this last time I saw him, and I was meaning to ask him the name of the author so I could go find his stuff. I believe you answered it for me. Thanks.

    (Ryan: let me know if this isn’t the book you were talking about)

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