A week ago yesterday – on Wednesday, November 25 – I came across a deal on Amazon: a free digital download of the SD version of the David Foster Wallace biopic The End of the Tour.
The deal materialized as part of Black Friday Week, the manic celebration of capitalism that has eclipsed Thanksgiving during the final week of November.
The odd thing was that it was being advertised as “Buy Movie SD Free,” a concept that’s hard to wrap your head around. You can buy this movie, to keep, digitally, Standard Definition (SD) for free.
But part of what makes it stranger is the idea of David Foster Wallace’s life being sold, for free, as a build-up to the biggest sales day of the year.
And then there is the Wallace story “The Devil is a Busy Man” in his 2007 book Brief Interviews with Hideous Men. It’s a two page story, brief, enigmatic, from a child’s perspective. And it’s very relevant. You should go read it, but I’m going to summarize it anyway.
The narrator tells us “…oftentimes Daddy would find he had a item he didn’t want anymore…” and “…put a notice in the Trading Post paper in town to give it away for nothing.”
But no one wants the things the narrator’s Daddy tries to give away for free.
“Then so what he up and starts doing one time in the Trading Post paper and he puts in some fool price he just makes up there on the phone with the Trading Post fellow. Some fool price next to nothing.”
The narrator’s father, he is able to sell things now for $5 or $10 that he couldn’t previously sell.
The End of the Tour, now that it’s not Black Friday Week, is $5.99 to rent High Definition (HD) on Amazon, or $14.99 to buy in HD, or $4.99 to rent Standard Definition (SD), or $12.99 to buy SD.
“Some fool price next to nothing. Old Harrow with Some Teeth a Little Rusted $5.”
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t do this. I bought a copy of The End of the Tour, for free, digitally, in Standard Definition, during the week of Black Friday Week. Even though the whole thing felt strange, especially considering that it seems the person who wrote the synopsis of The End of the Tour for Amazon didn’t know much about David Foster Wallace, calling him a “reclusive novelist” despite that reclusive probably isn’t the best adjective to use for him and that “essayist” or “writer” would probably be a better noun.
Yes, I bought a copy of the movie. For free. Even though it felt strange. And then I decided to open up Brief Interviews with Hideous Men again and look up the story that it was making me think of.
The story ends with this sentence:
“I asked Daddy about what lesson to draw here and he said he figured it’s you don’t try and teach a pig to sing and told me to go on and rake the drive’s gravel back out of the ditch before it fucked up the drainage.”
I recommend you read the story. It’s a short one, but you should read more of his stories too.
As far as The End of the Tour goes: I still haven’t watched it.
Did you enjoy reading this? Check out What Would F. Scott Fitzgerald Say About the Ghostbusters Reboot Controversy? or Books by D. F. Lovett