After the intensity of the Steve Albini produced Rid of Me, Harvey releases this collection of demos. The amazing thing is that these versions actually seem more intense than the Albini version. Or if not more intense, then certainly more raw.
The songs definitely have an unfinished feel about them, and yet they only vary from the final version in polish (and Albini’s stamp).
“Rid of Me” is just as quiet/loud, and has those high-pitched (and scary) backing vocals. Speaking of scary vocals, her lead screams in “Legs” are far scarier here than on Rid of Me–like really creepy. (Which sort of undermines that idea that this was released because Rid of Me was too intense for fans). “Snake” actually features even creepier vocals–Harvey must have had a field day making these sounds!
I admit that I like the finished version of “50 Ft Queenie” better,”but there’s something about this version of “Yuri-G” that I like better.
The disc also has some tracks unreleased elsewhere. “Reeling” is an organ-propelled song of female strength with the nice lyric: “Robert DeNiro sit on my face.” “Hardly Wait” is a slow grinder that is fairly quiet for this time period. “M-Bike” is a cool angry rocker about a guy and his motorcycle which is one of my favorite tracks on the disc.
It’s a great companion to Rid of Me.
[READ: end of February to early March] original articles that comprise A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again
As I mentioned last week, I decided to compare the articles in A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again with the original publications to see what the differences were. It quickly became obvious that there were a lot of additions to most of the articles, and it seems rather pointless (well, actually it seems exhausting and really outrageously time-consuming) to mention them all. But what I did want to note was the things that are in the articles that have been removed from the book. There’s not a lot but there are a few juicy tidbits (especially in the early articles) that are fun to note for anyone who read only the book and not the original articles.
My process for this was rather unthorough: I read the article and then right afterward I read the book. If I noticed any changes, I made a note on the article version. Many of them were surprisingly easy to note as DFW’s writing style (especially his idiosyncratic phrases) really stand out. This is especially true in the Harper’s articles. The academic ones were less notable, I believe, and I’m sure I missed a bunch.
I’m not sure in any way how these pieces were dealt with initially by the magazine or DFW. I assume that DFW handed in the larger article (like we see in the book) and the magazine made suggested edits and DFW edited accordingly. Then the book copies are probably the originals, bt which have also been updated in some way.
In most cases, it’s not really worth reading the original article, but I’m including links (thanks Howling Fantods), for the curious.
As for length, it’s hard to know exactly what the conversion from magazine article to book is. The “Tornado Alley” tennis article is 8 pages (more like 4 pages when you take out the ads) and the book is 17. Perhaps more accurately it seems like one Harper’s column = just under one book page. I’ll try to figure out what the conversion is if I can.
One last note, whenever I say “article” I mean the original magazine version. And obviously “book” means ASFTINDA.
“Tennis, Trigonometry, Tornadoes: A Midwestern Boyhood” (Harper’s, December 1991). [17 columns > 18 pages (“Derivative Sport in Tornado Alley”)].
- A minor change: “moths and crap gnats forming an asteroid belt around each tall lamp” (article, 68) to “moths and crap gnats drawn by the sodium lights form a little planet around each tall lamp” (book, 4).
- Another minor change is “Nobody I knew in Philo combed his hair because why bother” (article, 69) to “Most people in Philo didn’t comb their hair because why bother” (book, 5).
- And stylistic improvements: “Antitoi, uncomplicated from the git-go, hit the holy shit out of every round…” (article, 72) to “Antitoi, uncomplicated from the get-go, hit the everliving shit out of every round….” (book, 11).
- A more graphic improvement: “just milled around trying to look like you weren’t terrified” (article, 74) to “just milled around trying to look like you weren’t about to lose sphincter-control” (book, 16).
- Other interesting tidbits seem to remove some kind of culpability either by changing names: Steve Moe (article, 72) becomes Steve Cassil (book, 12).
- And a section about Hans Block (and who he is) losing to Gil Antitoi is removed completely (article, 72).
- He also adds a detail: “These tarps, developed by some windophobe in the early 1970s” (article, 73) is updated to “These tarps were Wind-B-Gone windscreens, patented by the folks over at Cyclone Fence in 1971” (book, 14).
He describes the Butterfly drill a little more completely in the book (I was confused by it in the article — 75), but feel like I really got it from the book’s description (17).
He also abbreviates a lot in the book (especially state names–probably a stylistic change from Harper’s and, interestingly, civil defense alert network is abbreviated to C.D. with no explanation in the book).
But the biggest, most amazing excision comes on page 70 (article). Three paragraphs, not printed in ASFTINDA, which basically tell the origin of the “mold” story in IJ. (Remember, this was published in 1991–IJ was in 1996). The entire story is told almost exactly as it will be in IJ including what the mold eater says and his mother’s reaction. It is a FASCINATING look at how a true story turns into a novel. And for that reason alone, it is worth checking out this article.
“E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction” (Review of Contemporary Fiction, Summer 1993). [43 page small print article > 64 pages in book, but virtually nothing added].
This piece is pretty much exactly the same from article to book. There are a few very minor word choice changes, but other than that it was almost not edited or truncated at all (except for the notes, which, see below).
So, a list of the changes:
- This list “Mailer, McInerney, Janowitz” (article, 151). Janowitz is removed (book, 21).
- In the same paragraph, “belles-lettres types” (article, 151) is changed to “belltristic types” (book, 21).
- Similarly Don Johnson (article, 154) is updated to Don Johnson and David Duchonvny (book, 25).
- The one big word change comes in the section called The Finger: “Weighty existential predicaments aside,” (article, 155) is changed to “Existentiovoyueristic conundra aside” (book, 27)
- The list of TV shows is changed from America’s Top 40 (article, 158) to Top Ten Countdown (book, 30)
- three card monte (article, 164) is changed to shell-game (book,)
- and “heck” (article, 165) is changed to “hell” (book, 40).
- He mentions Bright Lights (article, 166) which he properly titles Bright Lights, Big City (book, 40)
- FCC’d (article, 167) is changed to MTV’d (book, 44).
- The list of books by Barth, Pynchon and Gaddis (article, 168) does not include JR which was added in the book (45).
- The brief I Do Have a Thesis section has two changes: “I want to convince” (article, 171) becomes “I want to persuade” (book, 49).
- And “terrifically vexing” (article, 171) is changed to “especially terrible” (book, 49).
- On page 175 (article) “ubiquitous nightly” has become simply”ubiquitous” (book, 55).
- “I’ve said, so far, without support” (article, 177) becomes “I’ve claimed so far sort of vaguely” (book, 59).
- In the comments about Madonna’s “Vogue,” “a bad Marilyn imitator’s synthesized” (article, 181) becomes “critical synthesized” (book, 64).
- “sixties” (article, 183) is changed to “postwar” (book, 66) and “yielded freedom” (article, 183) is changed to “led to freedom” (book, 67)
- The section The End of the End of the Line has the most changes. Reagan/Bush (article, 185) is updated to Reagan/Bush/Gingrich (book, 69).
- And to “one eyebrow straight across their forehead and knuckles that drag (article, 185) the book has added “and really tall hair” (book, 69).
- “report and forecast” (article, 186) is changed to “diagnosis” (book, 70).
- Page 189 has the most changes. In the book, the word “Umm” is added before “Insights and guides” (book, 76). “My God” (article) is changed to “Oh God” (book, 76) and in the book he adds “good old” before Gilder in “Well, but at least Gilder is unironic.” (b00k, 76).
- There’s also a complete sentence added in the book after this bit about Gilder: “I have tried to make his book look ridiculous (which it is, but still).” (book, 76).
- Finally when he gets to Mark Leyner the book changes “writer” (article, 189) to “New Jersey medical ad copywriter” (book, 76) and changes the campus hipsters’ book from The Daharma Bums (article, 189) to The Fountainhead (book, 76).
- And just before the end, “limn the qualities” (article, 192) is changed to “cast the predicament” (book, 81).
- That paragraph also has “It is dead on the page” (book, 81) added on after “mock-worship”
- And “single-entendre values” (article, 192) is changed to “single-entendre principles” (book, 81)
- The final paragraph has two minor changes, “To risk” (book, 81) is added before “accusations of sentimentality” (article, 193) and “Credulity” (article, 193) is changed to “Of overcredulity. Of Softness” (book, 81).
And finally, the endnotes have a few things that were in the article which were removed in the book.
Endnote 18 (article), “At Foote…” in the article is says “quoted by Milller (somewhere I can’t find in notes)”. In the book Footnote 22 (book, 58): “quoted by Miller–so the guy said it in the mid-80s”
Endnote 22 (article), “Miller’s ‘Deride…’ in the article has a parenthetical comment which isn’t in the book: “(in fact my whole discussion of TV irony leans heavily on Gitlin’s, Sorkin’s and Miller’s essays in Gitlin’s anthology)”
The second half of it is also altered slightly. In the article “but anyway w/r/t sitcoms Miller is talking about some weird Freudian patricide in how TV comedy views The Father–strange but very cool.” In the book, Footnote 26: “but Miller ends up arguing that the crux is some weird Freudio-patricidal element in how TV comedy views The Father” (62).
Endnote 25 is eliminated altogether in the book. The quote it references (“styles of art and architecture in which past becomes pastiche”) is still there but without this note: “I liberated this from somewhere in Watching Television; can’t find just where”.
And that’s pretty much it (I’m sure I missed a few changes).
“Ticket to the Fair” (Harper’s, July 1994). [38 columns >55 pages “Getting Away from Already Being Pretty Much Away from It All”]
Unlike “Tennis” there’s not much in the original that makes it a “must read.” There’s a few things which seem like they were excised from the book version but which were in fact just moved “(Actually I haven’t been back to Illinois for a long time, and I can’t say I’ve missed it” is in the opening paragraph (article, 35) is moved to later in the piece (book, ).
Nevertheless, a few details have changed,
- corn “now knee-high by June 1” (article, 36) is “4th of May!” (book, 83).
- the percentage of people who are clinically fat is 40% in the article (42) but 25% in the book (99).
- There’s also a little change of authorial awareness: in the Jr. Livestock Center, the JR. “apparently” refers to the owners, not the animal (article, 43), but in the book it “pretty clearly” refers to the owners (book, 105).
- In what seems like a rare thing, the book is actually LESS specific. In the article, the Fair was not held in 1893, “because Chicago was hosting the World’s Columbian Exposition” (36); in the book it is just “for some reason.” (book, 85).
- The most fun change would have to be that he lured Native Companion “with the promise of free admission, unlimited corn dogs and various shiny trinkets” (article, 37). In the book it is changed to “free access to high-velocity sphincter-loosening rides” (book, 96).
- Also, when we meet the eager rural Christian, you should look through them “like they were stemming for change” (article, 48) in the book is the more specific, “like they were NYC panhandlers” (book, 123).
- And in the kids’ boxing, when the loser of the bout unexpectedly throws up. In the article, it’s “maybe a stomach punch recollected in tranquility” (51) changed to “several partially digested food-booth items are identifiable–maybe that’s the apparent reason” (book, 131).
There’s some interesting dialogue changes as well. Native Companion calls the carnies “Assholes” (42) which is changed to “Cornholers” (book, 100).
And when the kids pose for pictures in front of the Ronald McDonald, the book tacks on a very snarky “Why?”
But probably the most fun addition is that in the book she calls DFW “Slug,” (100) which we learned from the “Tennis” article was his tennis nickname. (That’s not in the article at all).
The real change from article to book, though, is that the entire ending of the article (“the real spectacle that draws us is us“) is actually put into the middle of the book’s version. That was sort of the stinger for the article, but it is vastly undermined throughout the book because DFW adds a whole new section about the carnies and the ag-workers and the people who work in the air-conditioned area as having a sort of us vs them attitude.
A few other things that are left out of the article: Native Companion is married with kids. There’s a whole section about old ladies thinking he’s with Harper’s Bazaar which he thinks will get him into the dessert tents. When he finally does get to the desserts, there’s catastrophic results.
Not to mention an entire thing (easily understood why it was left out) about flooding in the area.
Greatly Exaggerated: a review of H.L. Hix’s book Morte d’Author: An Autopsy (Harvard Book Review 1992).
Despite my best efforts I could not find a version of this original article.
“David Lynch Keeps His Head” (Premiere, September 1996)
There are two version of this article online. The one I read is from lynch.net and it seems to have some elements of the original article (photos and pull quotes); however, the text itself is either badly retyped or done with text recognition software, because there are a number of very funny typos. My favorite would be the opening of section 11 which reads “The word postmortem in admittedly overused” (it should be “postmodern”).
There’s another version here which a) keeps the footnotes intact and b) is apparently retyped in total. I admit I didn’t read THIS version carefully, but I skimmed it and it seemed to be accurate. (Of course, I don’t have the initial print version, so who knows).
It’s also hard to compare length of articles here as I copy and pasted the article from lynchnet into Word. The Word doc came in at 20 pages and the ASFTINDA version is 67. It’s obvious that the book version is longer.
As I’ve come to see since comparing these articles, typically DFW changes a couple of words or maybe a detail, but for the most part the entire article is put into the book unchanged (and then lots of new material added). One of the details is that he puts in more about Premier‘s industry “juice” getting him extra access.
But the biggest change is that there are a number of parenthetical comments in the original that are not in the book!
In 2. WHAT DAVID LYNCH IS REALLY LIKE: “(though I never did see anybody else relieving themselves on the set again, Lynch really was exponentially busier than everybody else)” [page numbers are rather pointless].
In 3(A). OTHER RENAISSANCE MAN-ISH THINGS HE’S DONE. There’s a description of Industrial Symphony #1 “(like a blend of Brian Eno, Philip Glass and the climactic showdown in-an-automated-factory scene from The Terminator)”.
In 5.A QUICK SKETCH OF LYNCH’S GENESIS AS A HEROIC AUTEUR After “Watching Dune again” is “(Easy to do–it rarely leaves its spot on Blockbuster’s shelf.)”
There’s also a few minor changes, like the hilarious comment about having sex with Patricia Arquette. It changes from “I imagine” (article) to “the viewer himself imagines” (book, 156). And here’s one that is clearly just a preferential change: discussing the bottom of the man who usually sits in the chair he is currently in, he describes it as that of a “workaholic and inveterate doughnut eater.” In the book it becomes “workaholic and inveterate milkshake drinker” (book, 195). I wonder which one is more accurate?
There’s an update to one of the trivia tidbits: In the article, regarding Dune he says that he “imagine[d] Dune came close” (to losing money), but in the book he updates it to “it took a long time for Dune to clear the red” (book, 154).
He moves a Trivia Tidbit from the middle of the article to the end of the book (the one about Catherine Coulson) which has no real impact on anything else.
But perhaps the best change comes in the description of Lynchian. In the article he explains that a street fight would be Lynchian “if and only if the insultee punctuates every kick and blow with an injunction not to say fucking anything if you can’t say something fucking nice.” In the book, this is expanded to a wonderful account of a man who kills his wife because she bought the wrong kind of peanut butter, which leads to a lengthy (and humorous) discussion of the merits of Jif v Skippy conducted by the man and the police (book, 162).
“The String Theory” (Esquire, July 1996) [(66 pages) “Tennis Player Michael Joyce’s Professional Artistryas a Paradigm of certain Stuff About Choice, Freedom, Discipline, Joy, Grotesquerie and Human Completeness”]
The online version of this article features a really cool footnote pop up box thing. When you roll over the note, a box opens to give you the note. Fun, right? Except that if you print the article, you don’t get the notes. Worse yet, at least two footnotes’ boxes are so tall, that I couldn’t read the first few lines. And even worse than that was that several notes had no box at all (gasp!). So that’s why I really can’t give a page count for this article either.
The book version is not that much longer. There are a few items that are in the book but not the original article: the whole bit about the rain delay and a very lengthy section about being a spectator at the tournament (a wonderful example of DFW’s keen observational skills about, well, everything).
The first fascinating item that is in the article but taken out of the book is Michael Joyce’s middle initial (T.)
There’s also a minor change at the end of the article where “parts of his psychic reserves most of us do not even know for sure we have (courage, playing with violent nausea, not choking, et cetera)” is changed in the book to the more impressive: “do not even know for sure we have, to manifest in concrete form virtues like courage, persistence in the face of pain or exhaustion, performance under wilting scrutiny and pressure” (book, 254).
Perhaps the largest thing excised comes in Ftn 31 (which is 37 in the book) regarding Agassi and Brooke Shields. There’s a parenthetical in the footnote which is really quite funny and I suppose kind of mean, which is maybe why it wasn’t included in the book:
(Since we all enjoy celeb stuff, this might also be the place to insert an unkind but true observation. Up close in person, Brooke Shields is in fact extremely pretty, but she is not at all sexy. Her eyebrows are actually not nearly as thick/bushy as Groucho\’s or Brezhnev\’s, but she\’s incredibly tall, and her posture\’s not all that great, and her prettiness is that sort of computer-enhanced-looking prettiness that is resoundingly unsexy. To find somebody sexy, I think you actually have to be able to imagine having sex with them, and something intrinsically remote and artificial about Brooke Shields makes it possible to imagine jacking off to a picture of her but not to imagine actually having sex with her.)
“Shipping Out” (Harper’s, January 1996) [48 columns > 109 pages (“A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again”)]
In fact, as I was going through I simply stopped noting where things were different between the two (I mean, when there’s five or six pages in a row, it’s not easy to concisely explain the differences). Suffice it to say that the article picks and chooses some (but not all) of the best bits. It also clearly and deliberately leaves certain things out, but you can tell it’s for length and not content.
There’s a few comments in the book version in which DFW says he anticipates that sections will be cut but in fact, most of them were not (the large section about Tìbor is indeed in the article as is the lengthy bit about sharks). Oh, and a weird stylistic difference. In the article Tìbor has a an accented ì but in the book he does not.
As for changes, the first one is actually really obvious. In the first paragraph he mentions lotion spread over 2,100 pounds of flesh (article, 33). This, of course, is barely ten people. In the book it is corrected to 21,000 (so we’ll assume that Harper’s made a typo). (256)
In Pampered to Death Part I (the article has section titles while the book just has numbered sections) “a sixteen year old male did a half-gainer off the upper deck” (35). In the book, “half-gainer” becomes a “Brody” (261).
As for things that are in the article but not the book, there aren’t too many. Well, actually there are a lot of things that are truncated or edited which means that there are connectors which are different, but again, why bother).
One footnote is cut (even though hundreds more are added (33 notes in the article, 137(a) in the book)). It’s regarding the kid wearing a shirt that says SANDY DUNCAN’S EYE, (disc available here–or maybe it’s this band–or did they get their name from the DFW article?) the article has this note: “Journalistic follow up has revealed that this is the name of a band that I feel confident betting is: Punk” (38).
The few minor changes: At the introduction to the Navigation Lecture. The article includes this first line (“I am there”). (52).
An even smaller change: in the article, while shooting golf balls, he notes the dart holes on “My little Astroturf square” (53), which in the book is “the Astroturf square” (336).
During the whole skeet section, every instance of “trapshooting” in the article (passim) is changed to “skeetshooting” and “(c) a clay pigeon” (article, 55) is changed to “(c) a flying skeet” (book, 345).
The final minor change is that “pseudojournalistic pampering” (article, 55) became “journalistic pampering” (book, 350).
What seems like a sad change in the article concerns the food on the ship. The book describes “seventy-three varieties of entrée alone and wonderfully good coffee” the article describes it so much more poetically as “The sort of coffee you marry someone for being able to make” (45). Fortunately, this same “marry” phrase is used at a later part in the book (335) in another coffee section.
Actually, the saddest change comes in the footnote for his description of the vacuum toilet and his fear of being sucked into it by the vicious Mr Dermatitis. As the footnote ends, the book says that he will be “sucked down through the seat’s opening and hurled into some kind of abstract septic holding-tank” (book, 306). But the article’s masterful conclusion is “Some kind of abstract septic exile.” What a great phrase! A great band name! “Abstract Septic Exile” is now my all time favorite phrase, and I will need to use it somewhere!
And as far as I can tell those are the changes between article and book. Obviously the book is more complete, with all kinds of wonderful things thrown in (the sheer number of notes added to “Shipping Out” is breathtaking). However, the shorter versions are good for introductions to DFW’s work.
Okay, nitpickers, get out your combs!