Val recovers a DFW rewrite of R.L. Stine from deep in the Wallace archive, and it’s discovery so good she deserves at least a Toblerone or two.
Welcome to 52 Fear Street, McNally Jackson’s month-long celebration of R.L. Stine. Join us on October 30th for an evening with Mr. Stine himself and his Fear Street editor Kat Brzozowski, and follow the #52FearSt tags on tumblr and Twitter to hear what authors, booksellers, and editors have to say about Fear Street and Goosebumps.
Today’s post was recently discovered in David Foster Wallace’s archives by McNally Jackson Bookseller Valerie.
David Foster Wallace’s rewrite of Fear Street: Beach House
written in 1999
Summer of 1956
YEAR OF BEING WORRIED ABOUT SHARKS
Maria was coming to regret her decision to go swimming alone with Buddy in the late afternoon. She felt ambiguously uneasy now that the shoreline was obscured by the haze of the swirling/grey/cloak of fog and Buddy, who had been uncharacteristically(1) eager w/r/t getting into water and away from shore, had begun swimming in subtle but malevolent-seeming concentric circles of increasing proximity to her.
It was unnerving, she had to admit, that they were already so far from shore, even though it seemed (to Maria) like it was only a second ago that Buddy had grabbed her by the arm and lead her through the dark/encroaching fog, and into the water, which was, she had remarked to Buddy in an effort to emphasize the sacrifice inherent in her concession to this late afternoon/early evening swim, exceptionally cold and calm.(2)
There was no reason to panic,(3) she reasoned. Buddy, despite being Very Serious and Not That Fun, was proving to be a disarmingly good swimmer and also extremely forgiving of her failure to go on a date him (Buddy) the night before, Maria having been succumbed to Stuart’s(4) suggestion that she to go to instead to the drive-in movies in his (Stuart’s) dad’s pink convertible Thunderbird with grey leather seats. She was sure that even if she been complicit in The Incident that involved stealing Buddy’s swim trunks and leaving him naked in the ocean while she went to the drive-in movies with Stu-”Mr. Real Cool Cat”-art in his dad’s pink convertible, he (Buddy) benevolently bared her no ill will, and she was therefore kind of obligated to keep swimming with him in this heavy/shroud-like fog.
Maria, now disoriented, still lacking confidence in her swimming, accosted by increasingly chilly currents and the tantalizing memory of Stuart’s dad’s convertible, was feeling particularly dejected. Buddy, she noticed, had stopped swimming in concentric circles growing ever closer to her and disappeared, and she was being circled now only by the heavy/unseasonable/churning fog. Feeling confused and frightened particularly w/r/t whether or not she should feel confused and frightened, Maria decided that she would like to leave this situation A.S.A.P.
When Buddy appeared suddenly behind her, Maria expressed that one reason she was coming to regret her decision to go swimming alone with Buddy in the late afternoon cum early evening was because there had been myriad horrific shark attacks as of late.
Although Buddy assured her that the sharks would not bother her unless they smelled blood, Maria was not comforted, mainly because Buddy continued thereafter to inform her that despite his earlier acceptance of her apology that lead to this increasingly uncomfortable swim excursion, his feelings were still hurt from 1) when she took park in The Incident and 2) when she stood him up for Stuart and his (Stuart’s) dad’s convertible the evening before.(5)
Maria although apologetic, felt a little misled now that she was out in what could only be called the literal center of the Atlantic ocean surrounded by a dark/ominous fog, a particular position she did think she would have found herself in if she had not been attempting to compensate for her earlier faux-pas in the face of Buddy’s benevolence. She was now beginning suspect that perhaps the unfortunate conditions of their swim (i.e. the time of day, the fog, the temperature of the water, her own athletic shortcomings) were not simply circumstances of fate but rather orchestrated by a higher a power and/or Buddy.
Dark shapes. Skimming rapidly along the surface of the water. Like submarines.(6) Dark triangles moving silently toward them, cutting through the solid fog.
“Sharks,” said Buddy.
1. Buddy has been described as a sourpuss/not a million laughs/very serious¬ that fun
2. Not unlike Buddy himself.
3. Maria was not necessarily a good swimmer, although she reminder herself while bobbing in the water, that her experience, even if limited to a few months of Red Cross lessons at the Y/family vacations in Dunhampton, was probably enough to make her a good swimmer after all what she really lacked was confidence.
4. Stuart has been described as Mr. Rock n’ Roll/ Mr. Real Cool Cat
5. And when during the course of the conversation in which she had been persuaded by Stuart to stand up Buddy, she had agreed with Stuart’s suggestion that Buddy shared certain characteristics with That Puppet Howdy Doody when he smiled because smiling was not the natural state of his face, which was Very Serious.
6. Although this simile seems unlikely, the Discovery Channel documentary “Shark of Darkness: The Wrath of Submarine” shows that sharks do sometimes resemble submersible watercrafts.