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Adult World (I)

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Back to David Foster Wallace or Brief Interviews with Hideous Men.


The third-person narrator describes a husband and wife's sex life, in which the wife feels incredibly insecure about her performance. She is afraid that she hurts her husband, and that she is bad at oral sex. She soon buys a dildo for practice and an X-rated video in which she can watch the porn stars' oral sex techniques. She starts having bad dreams, and becomes convinced that either something is wrong with her sexuality or something is wrong with her for being illegitimately worried about her sexuality. One of these bad dreams prompts her to call up an ex-lover and ask him if anything was wrong with her, and their meeting leads to an epiphany that pulls her out of her worried state.


  • Wife/Jeni Roberts
  • Husband
  • Wife's ex-lover

Themes & Motifs


The wife's self-consciousness is the central conflict of the story. First, she is insecure about her sexuality, and subsequently insecure about her insecurity about her sexuality.