Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Infinite Jest

This week, after months of heavy reading, I finally finished Infinite Jest. Finishing was sad. I feel like I've lost my best friend.

At first reading the book gave me the howling fantods. Why was the author so hostile to the reader? Why use a bunch of invented acronyms without defining them? Why write in gigantic multi-page blocks of paragraph free text? Why publish in a format that makes it physically painful to hold the gigantic book? Why use words whose definition was surely unknown even to the author before he looked them up in a thesaurus? And most annoyingly, why have endnotes instead of footnotes, so that I have to search through the end of the book to read a useless additional comment interrupting the flow of the narrative?

Luckily a friend who had read it recommended that I stick with it. There's method in the madness, he said. So I ploughed on and kept reading. And suddenly I got sucked in to the Infinite Jest world. I couldn't get enough of the Enfield Tennis Academy, the Quebecois wheelchair assasins, the bizarre O.N.A.N politics, and the hilarious AA stories.

When it was over, I did something I've never done before. I went back to the start of the book and started reading it again. I thoroughly enjoyed the first 100 pages a second time, with the new found understanding of the David Foster Wallace universe, before the madness of what I was doing caught up to me. Truly this is a novel that will stick with me for a long time. I look forward to the vanishing memories of the next five years so that I can go back and read it again.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

December 13,2010 6:15 p.m. a young boy about 13 or 14 rang our doorbell in oreder to sell his chocolate coverd almonds for $3.00 a box.I didn't want them but I decided to help but when he said 3 for $10,I decided to just buy the one box.The $3.00 box,1/3full,contained 23 almonds.It is a fraud and the various Police Departments should take action against these liars and cheaters.These ruthless ADULTS are teaching these youngsters how to be the confidence men of the future.