“What David Lynch Is Really Like” — David Foster Wallace

2 what David Lynch is really like

I have absolutely no idea. I rarely got closer than five feet away from him and never talked to him. One of the minor reasons Asymmetrical Productions let me onto the set is that I don’t even pretend to be a journalist and have no idea how to interview somebody and saw no real point in trying to interview Lynch, which turned out perversely to be an advantage, because Lynch emphatically didn’t want to be interviewed while Lost Highway was in production, because when he’s shooting a movie he’s incredibly busy and preoccupied and immersed and has very little attention or brain-space available for anything other than the movie. This may sound like PR bullshit, but it turns out to be true—e.g.:

The first time I lay actual eyes on the real David Lynch on the set of his movie, he’s peeing on a tree. I am not kidding. This is on 8 January in West LA’s Griffith Park, where some of Lost Highway’s exteriors and driving scenes are being shot. Lynch is standing in the bristly underbrush off the dirt road between the Base Camp’s trailers and the set, peeing on a stunted pine. Mr. David Lynch, a prodigious coffee-drinker, apparently pees hard and often, and neither he nor the production can afford the time it’d take him to run down the Base Camp’s long line of trailers to the trailer where the bathrooms are every time he needs to pee. So my first sight of Lynch is only from the back, and (understandably) from a distance. Lost Highway’s cast and crew pretty much ignore Lynch’s urinating in public, and they ignore it in a relaxed rather than a tense or uncomfortable way, sort of the way you’d ignore a child’s alfresco peeing.

David Foster Wallace,  “David Lynch Keeps His Head”  (A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again)

8 thoughts on ““What David Lynch Is Really Like” — David Foster Wallace”

  1. Not that it is necessarily relevant to your post on “David Lynch Keeps His Head,” but have you read Broom of the System? If so, what did you think/make of it?


    1. Hi, Joey,
      I read Broom back in college — like 15 years ago— and liked it then. I’ve reread bits of it over the years, and I listened to the audiobook a few years ago. I reviewed it here:


      From that review:

      Journeying through the book years later is a new experience, especially in light of how much Wallace and his literary followers have remapped the terrain of fiction. Many of Broom‘s experimental innovations, like the incorporation of TV transcripts, scholarly articles, medical documents, and other “found footage” are so normalized in contemporary fiction as to be almost clichéd in 2010. While these moments are never glaring or gauche in Broom, their inclusion lacks the finesse that Wallace would later demonstrate in Infinite Jest. Similarly, Wallace’s characters in Broom are too cartoonish to connect with. Read aloud, their punning names become a cavalcade of groans:Wang-Dang Lang, Peter Abbott, Candy Mandible, Judith Prietht, Biff Diggerance, and so on, as if Wallace can’t help himself. The Pynchonesque goofiness gets in the way of the reader-writer relationship that Wallace ultimately wants, the Wittgensteinian language game that would allow for identification beyond words. Purposeful bathos is still bathos. Lenore is an engaging character but, as she frequently worries and suspects, she is just that, a character, never transcending the page like Don Gately of Infinite Jest. But it’s cruel and stupid to fault Broom for not being Infinite Jest, especially when Broom is such a rewarding novel. Published when Wallace was just 24, it shows the grand strains of First Novel Syndrome, of a genius trying to push out too many ideas, too many characters, too many philosophical riffs at once. While Infinite Jest is hardly restrained, it shows Wallace’s powerful control over Too Much; it converts Too Much into Not Enough, into Give Me More.


      1. Very nice synopsis/reading of Broom. I find myself constantly seeing tropes, ideas, images that will play out more fully and successfully in Infinite Jest. At first I had trouble staying engaged and took a long time getting through the first half or so; but right around the trip to Amherst, something switched on (I loved the LaVache parts, sort of reminded me of college, sort of) and now I am really flying through it.

        Thanks or responding and sharing your insights. Now I probably need to either read Pale King, reread Infinite, or really both.


          1. For my next book, I am deciding between Pale King, 1Q84, and Life: A User’s Manual. Hope to get through all three by summer’s end when I am not teaching, but who knows.


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