Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Epic Saga of Reading Infinite Jest

On April 29, 2010, I began an epic journey. I put aside my fears of books over the 400 page mark (aside from Harry Potter) and decided to read David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest. Why? It's hard to explain, but I was getting tired of reading short stories and novellas, and I wanted to read something that would feel like an accomplishment when I finish. Not to mention the fact that so many of my online friends have been talking about, and quoting, Infinite Jest and David Foster Wallace non-stop lately. It felt like the right time to pick up the brick of a tome, coming in at 1079 pages I think it's safe to consider it a brick. I have no idea how long it will take me, especially considering it's not the only book I'm reading due to queereads, but I'm determined to finish it. This will not be another one of the many that end up in the pile of half-read books. It's also the only book I've felt the need to write in, no underlining or marginalia (I love when I can use the word 'marginalia'), but I wrote the date I bought and started reading it in pencil on the first page so I can remember how long it took me to read. Now that I've started reading Infinite Jest and love it so much already, I want to read all of his other books too. I've had a copy of Brief Interviews with Hideous Men at home for a while and never got around to reading it, now I'm glad I have it to read when I eventually finish Infinite Jest. It's highly likely that I'll pick up a few more of his books, some essays perhaps, before I'm ready to read them just so I'll have them at hand when I have the time. I also got a copy of Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace by David Lipsky and I read the first 20 pages of that on lunch yesterday. I couldn't help myself, I think David Foster Wallace is an addiction and I don't want an intervention.

Warning! Spoilers after the jump.

Pages 1-60: A review
So far a kid has tried to get into a college on scholarship for tennis but went kind of crazy in the interview, a guy was preparing for his last big marijuana vacation with much anxiety, and the kid's older brother was dealing with the heat and killing roaches by placing glasses over them to let them suffocate (squishing them was too messy). So far, I think the marijuana chapter was my favorite. As I read it, I could feel the anxiety as he was afraid to go too far from the phone in case the woman who was supposed to be bringing him his drugs called, and when he was afraid to go to the bathroom in case she came to the door while he was in there. And I loved that every time he does this marijuana binge it's the last time, the last time he did it it was supposed to be the last time, but now this time is the last time. He stays home from work, records an outgoing message on his answering machine saying he's out of town, and parks his car blocks away just so he can smoke too much marijuana. He even goes to the grocery store to get "supplies" like chips, soda, and cans of frosting to be eaten with a spoon.

This book is hilarious. I, for some reason, had it in my mind that this book was going to be difficult, maybe it's the page count. The thing is, David Foster Wallace is so real and accessible that it's much more enjoyable than difficult. My major worry now is that my book is going to look so wrecked by the time I finish it just from carrying it around.

No comments: