This is a post about that really long book titled, Infinite Jest .If you know it, or the movie The End of The Tour or the Rolling Stone guy's book, you'll know what I'm talking about. If not, you may want to skip this post...or if you like reading, you may find it interesting.
I saw The End of the Tour and wanted to read Infinite Jest. The characters in the movie were eating it up. The writer himself is overwhelmingly intriguing. (And in the end, tragically messed up because he ended up killing himself.) So I started the book and am near 200 pages into the lice-egg sized font book and have really only made it through 10% of it.
All the other books I want to read are popping up into my mind like brownies when you're on a diet. I suddenly burn to read them. My daughter came to me with an infinitely cheesy middle grade book that she miraculously has two copies of and she wants to do a "mommy daughter book club" with it, starting tomorrow, and I am suddenly excited. (Books are usually my selfish time- my time is limited and I want to read for my own enjoyment, it's is not a sacrificial task, thought this may come as a terrible shock to my "gimme, gimme, I need, do-for-me" children.)
This book started off interesting, though disjointed. But it continued on in this way and never connected any dots. It is a big long rambling of inner mind clutter of Mr. Intriguing Wallace. He makes up new words, uses abbreviations for many things and tells time by the year that random items were developed, like the Year of the Adult Depends Undergarment. (Which for the record is 1984 because I looked it up)
So I started to read some reviews to see what people saw in this book. It's like listening to terrible music that sells millions. I am not getting it.
"Infinite Jest is potentially infinite, an endless shaggy dog tale with no punch line. Chockfull/ of brilliant riffs, it is also repetitive and boring." Ethos Review Infinite Jest
--John McGowan is Ruel W. Tyson, Jr. Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
"Part of what clicks in a lot of Wallace’s work is that he writes in a way that maps to the way (at least some) people think. At its best, his voice mimics the infolding, obsessive, self-conscious, reflective brain voice that we think belongs only to ourselves but that most people have in some degree or another. And to my mind, one of the central theses of IJ is that to live with that voice only, to fail to escape your own head, is toxic. It’s why Hal, early on in the text (though late in the timeline) says “I am in here” while clearly manifesting to the deans as anywhere but in there." Daryl L
It turns out, I think, that this book needs to be read as a sort of study. Like a text book. It is not just a open it up at night and enjoy some mind-hot-cocoa before bed. (It weighs many pounds and will probably sprain your wrist, or possibly dislocate some fingers if you did that). One reviewer described using two bookmarks, one for his place in the book and one for the place in the back where Wallace has many footnotes that can go on for several pages, derailing the scattered plot even further, and he was often chewing on one of them.
Inevitably, many readers appreciate Infinite Jest because it was like a marathon they had to train for, relapse from and finally, one day complete. You have to work, mentally, to get through it, you have to persevere through the hard times and you have to commit and dedicate yourself to a mindful conscious study of this text. It is a journey in focus and a memory challenge (because something from page 49 will finally relate to something from page 763 and you need to remember these one-liner somethings.) It is also a lesson in the fact that life never buttons up perfectly, because after climbing this massive jaggedly mountain of a book, apparently there is no resolution in the ending. There is no view at the top of the mountain.
Infinite Jest turned me off from reading it by that 10% mark and it even turned me off from reading in general. It took my bean of reading joy, cooked it and stepped on it so the fibrous inner bean pulp squeezed out of its rough and colorful skin. And then my dog ate that bean and shit it out. I love to read so this is not a good reaction from this book.
I think that life has both handed and thrown at me these same lessons that this book imposes upon its reader. I don't need to learn them by request, they will come to me again and again - from parenting, from cancer, from working, from loving, from simply living. This book was meant to be devoured like those people in the movie were doing, but it is not that for me, right now. There are some good, enjoyable, thought provoking parts but that is like getting rocks thrown at you and picking up the pretty ones in the lot and wishing to get a stoning again to increase your collection. But in conclusion, I will be like Wallace and give no resolve for this post: I won't stop reading Infinite Jest, and I won't voraciously dig into it. As he said, you can find the answers somewhere to the right of the text, beyond the covers. For me, the answer is beyond the end of this post...
I laughed at this Jest review: why you shouldnt read infinite jest !! Enjoy!!