Years ago (the summer of 2004 IIRC) I first picked up The Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace1 I think I got it at a library used book sale in Aspen, CO, where I was for a week in the summer visiting my sister who was participating in the music festival. Aspen in the summer is beautiful, by the way. Even the ubiquitous celebrity presence can’t quite ruin it. Maybe I didn’t buy it, maybe I just took it out on loan. The reason I wonder if I didn’t buy it in that IJ is, um, big? It’s not knick-knack sized, it’s more small child sized, so it’s not the thing you misplace. (Unless you misplace very small children.)
I picked up IJ a few weeks ago as part of the Infinite Summer project, the idea of which is to consume all 1,069 pages (although, apparently IJ should be longer…). It’s been fun to have a few blogs2 spurring me along. Currently I’m on page 134, endnote 483 and so far its been manageable. I tend to read fairly quickly, and I guess after reading many research papers4 over the years my tolerance for multiple-page blocks of dense text (sometimes in dialect!) has increased. Actually I’m enjoying it heartily. Some of this ground I had trod before on my first attempt, when I petered out at around page 100, but even now that I’m into virgin (for me) territory it’s still enjoyable.
Mind you, I don’t claim to have the slightest clue what is going on, yet, but the text is just so magnificent in places5 that even as a series of completely unrelated short stories it would have had me. In any case, I may periodically share some insights here under the tag “Infinite Summer”, which apparently you can link to (just those posts) like this. We’ll see how I do!
- 1. BTW: the picture of him on his Wikipedia page is excellent, strangely moving. [↩]
- 2. "Infinite Summer", "A Supposedly Fun Blog", "Infinite Zombies", probably others I'm missing... [↩]
- 3. Although I skipped the forward-referenced endnotes. Maybe that was a mistake? They seemed weird to me. Consider this my own sort of forward-reference, as it were, since I want to come back to this. [↩]
- 4. Not always, ahem, the best written things out there. [↩]
- 5. And maybe my increasing DFW sympathies have to do with our joint fondness for endnotes, interruptions, "stream of consciousness" text (as an uncharitable reader recently described some of my technical writing)? Amazing that at age 29 you can still discover punctuation. The dash is a darling thing. [↩]