I found this piece to be very engaging.
The person who introduced me to DFW was a Karr-shaming “feminist”, who managed to admit and simultaneously normalize or minimize DFW’s abuses.
When I wrote a response earlier to a Medium piece about Woody Allen, I proposed DFW as one of those cases which is difficult for me: while it is easy to disregard Allen for me as a hack and a disgusting person, DFW is difficult precisely because I don’t consider him a hack.
When I finally got around to reading Infinite Jest and listening to an audiobook version of Girl, it was long after my encounter with the person who introduced me to DFW’s writing. I had some objectivity. In fact, if anything, her association with the writer might have been a point against him.
What I found was technical achievement of marvelous capability, often, but not always, lacking in a sense of emotional depth [for me]. Even many of his tragic scenes seemed more or less caricatures: a bug, perhaps, I took as a feature.
He writes inauthentic female characters? That’s a bug. Unfortunately, if we got rid of all writing which did the same — and then we got rid of racial shorthand, poorly sketched out male characters, etc. — we’d have little to read.
He fabricates non-fiction incidents? Yes, expose and excise. That is inexcusable for those pieces to me.
Did I think Infinite Jest was one of the most compelling books I’ve ever read? Absolutely not. Did I take notes on how technical achievement can be done and do I have some influence to argue with in my own writing? Absolutely.
Thank you for this strong response.