I am sitting over coffee and cigarette's at my friend Rita's and I am telling her about it.Here is what I tell her.
If it's odd that Mario Incandenza's first halfway-coherent film cartridge -- a 48-minute job shot three summers back in the carfeully decorated janitor-closet of Subdorm B with his head-mount Bolex H64 and foot-treadle -- if it's odd that Mario's first finished entertainment consists of a film of a puppet show -- like a kids' puppet show -- then it probably seem ever odder that the film's proven to be way more popular with the E.T.A.'s adults and adolescents than it is with the woefully historically underinformed children it had first been made for.
- Sentence length. Duh.
- Paragraph length. In this section, Carver's paragraphs are only a few words long. The Wallace paragraph (that's just the first sentence of it) ends up taking most of a page.
- Descriptive language. Carver tells us "coffee and cigarettes." If Wallace wrote his own version of the first story, he would likely tell us which brand and flavor, and possibly the historical origins of the coffee and cigarettes in question.
- Vocabulary. "I am telling her about it" vs. "...woefully historically underinformed children..." And it's not just the length of the words, it's the combinations: if Carver wrote his own version of the second story, there is no way he would put two adverbs and an adjective in front of the word "children."
- Punctuation. You'll tend to see a lot more semi-colons; em dashes -- ellipses ... and (parentheticals) in maximalist prose.