Acetate and Nylon

"As for myself, I had trouble just paying attention, and the things I can remember now seem mostly pointless. I mean really remember, not just have a general impression of. I remember having fairly long hair, meaning long on all four sides, but nevertheless it was also always parted on the left side and held in place with spray from a dark red can. I remember the color of this can. I can't think of this period's hair without almost wincing. I can remember things I wore--a lot of burnt orange and brown, red-intensive paisley, bell-bottom cords, acetate and nylon, flared collars, dungaree vests. I had a metal peace-sign pendant that weighed half a pound. Docksiders and yellow Timberlands and a pair of shiny low brown leather dress boots which zipped up the sides and only the sharp toes showed under bell-bottoms. The little sensitive leather thong around the neck. The commercial psychedelia. The obligatory buckskin jacket. The dungarees whose cuffs dragged on the ground and dissolved into white thread. Wide belts, tube socks, track shoes from Japan. The standard getup. I remember the round, puffy winter coats of nylon and down that made us all look like parade balloons. The scratchy white painter's pants with loops for supposed tools down the side of the thigh. I remember everyone despising Gerald Ford, not so much for pardoning Nixon but for constantly falling down. Everyone had contempt for him. Very blue designer jeans. I remember the feminist tennis player Billie Jean King beating what seemed like an old and feeble man player on television and my mother and her friends all being very excited by this." (157)


Wallace, David Foster. The Pale King. London: Penguin Group Ltd., 2011.

Chicagoland in the 1970s--unless you had already guessed? DFW must have been in his early to mid-teens in the 1970s; are these his own personal reminiscences? How do you balance the clich├ęs that are really true? I certainly was surprised about the Timberlands, but not the bell-bottom cords or the puffy coats. How do you get it to ring true for all readers--or do you worry about that?