Last year, I had a small red mark on the tip of my nose. Living in California, I am over exposed to the sun, so I thought I should see a doctor to make sure the spot would not turn into an ugly hole in my face.
I saw my wife’s dermatologist, who said that it was nothing, just some broken blood vessels. She said, “We can’t have you walking around with a witch’s knot on your nose. We’ll just zap that with a laser.”
I hadn’t thought my nose looked that bad, but sometimes I fail to look honestly in the mirror. The procedure worked. The laser erased the mark, but I left the doctor’s office feeling awkward and concerned.
I never know when I might have some downtime, so I often carry a book with me. The waiting room at a doctor’s office is a perfect time for reading, so I was engrossed in a book when the dermatologist entered and said, “Hi Doug. What are you reading?”
I said, “Consider the Lobster, by David Foster Wallace.”
She said, “I haven’t heard of him. Is it good?”
I said, “Yes. It’s fantastic.”
She said, “I’m always looking for good books to read. I’ll have to write that one down.”
As she picked up a pen and asked me again for the title, I panicked. This doctor is one of the sweetest people you could ever meet. She has a bright smile, an engaging personality, and you can’t help but like her. And I had just recommended that she read a book of essays that starts with an in-depth look at the porn industry.
Consider the Lobster and Other Essays is a collection of essays that DFW wrote for a variety of magazines, including Harper’s, The Atlantic, and Gourmet (hence, the book’s title). In 1998, Premiere asked DFW to cover the AVN (Adult Video News) Awards and its accompanying Expo. “Big Red Son” is his scathing but hilarious account of what he described as when “the apocalypse took the form of a cocktail party.”
DFW has an extensive vocabulary, but he uses course language to convey his distaste for what he witnessed. The rest of his essays are clean, but “Big Red Son” is wicked.
We go to the same church, so I knew I would see the good doctor again. I tried back peddling and warned her that she might want to skip the first essay. I said it was “racy” and used some other descriptors that did not do justice to DFW’s prolific use of profanities. She gave me a look that said, “Doug, I’m not a child,” so I relented and hoped that she would forgive me.
Books are personal. What I enjoy may not do it for you. Since the dermatologist incident, I have been wary of recommending my favorites. But a few people recently asked me what books I like, so I figured I would just create a separate page on The Hipping Post (click here or on the tab at the top of this page titled “Books”) that lists some of my favorite fiction and non-fiction books. At the top, I also added a “What I am reading now” section that I will continue to update. I hope you enjoy these books as much as I did, but if not, please forgive me.
PS. I referenced David Foster Wallace in three consecutive posts, so by now, you probably think I have some kind of crush on him. Actually, I haven’t read any of his fiction works, and I have only read a handful of his other essays. But Consider the Lobster inspired me to try writing, so DFW will always hold a special place on my list of favorite authors. May he rest in peace.