‘Girl with Curious Hair’ by David Foster Wallace

Our narrator, Sick Puppy – a sociopathic Young Republican with a penchant for sadistic burning –attends a jazz concert with a group of nihilistic punks with names like Grope, Tit and Gimlet. Terrible events ensue. Thanks to Foster Wallace’s virtuoso distortion of the English language, the narration resembles a writing exercise by an unhinged child in an ESL class. It is hilarious. It is also deeply unsettling: you get the feeling that anything (the most awful things) could happen; and beneath the layers of chaos and hilarity, there is a kind of stark moral terror. Sick Puppy is somebody with only shards of a personality – and beneath those shards, a roaring, violent nothingness. Good stuff.

Collected in Girl with Curious Hair, W.W. Norton & Co, 1989

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