Short story: “The Planet Trillaphon as It Stands in Relation to the Bad Thing”

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“The Planet Trillaphon as It Stands in Relation to the Bad Thing,” by David Foster Wallace (who then went by David Wallace)

First published in 1984 in volume XII of the Amherst Review (PDF here); reprinted in issue #40 (summer 2009) of Tin House (purchase here); also here

7,730 words—my estimate of 4,000 was way off

A really excellent student story that differs from Wallace’s later work mainly in that it’s more conventional and straightforward. The unfinished sentence device works much better here than in Broom of the System, honestly. Someone somewhere once described most of Wallace’s work as horror fiction, and that seems to apply here.

“‘That is my hunger,’ I told myself countless times […] , as if I wanted to convince myself that my hunger and I were still two things and I could shake it off like a burdensome lover; but in reality we were very painfully one, and when I explained to myself: ‘That is my hunger,’ it was really my hunger that was speaking and having its joke at my expense.”

Investigations of a Dog, by Franz Kafka

Edit: Found a version that ends the last sentence with the word “me.” Still effective, I think.