Gregor Samsa wrote:
Trying to give Infinite Jest the attention it deserves so only reading it at night when I can really focus on it
So, are you done?
(Don't read on if you haven't!)
I finished Infinite Jest about a week ago, and somehow I am still lost for words. It's hard to compare it with any other book I have read so far. Brilliant, overwhelming, also overstraining at times. It definitely had some lengths for me, some passages are just too extensive - I am thinking about the conversation on the "hill" between the wheelchair assassin and the guy dressed as a woman, and also about the dream/hallucination sequences Don Gately has when he is lying in hospital. I was also a bit disappointed that so many plots are not finished. I would have loved to know what happened to Joelle Van Dyne or Orin Incandenza. All in all it was a great read though, and one wouldn't hang on for 1400 pages if the book wasn't engaging.
I have the feeling that the shorter stories and essays that are non-fictional feature a more direct observation and analysis of modern life, certainly more to the point and maybe more witty as well. But then again, Infinite Jest covers so much, so many facets that an essay obviously could never cover, and so many characters and their fates were extremely compelling. I absolutely loved reading it, and in the end I was sorry when the book was finished. Even though sometimes I felt that I am not up to the genius of this book.
Started reading One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez now, I wanted to read something very different before I go back to DFW (which I surely will, because he has become my favourite author long ago).
So yeah. I loved the book also, felt a massive satisfaction when finishing it, took me nearly 3 months. I love the fact it was intentionally arduous, Foster-Wallace has admitted he wanted to go back to the early postmodern avant garde stuff he fell in love with. It makes the good bits in the book even more rewarding. I personally loved the cross-dresser and the wheelchair assassin guy having their philosophical discussions in the desert. I struggled with some of the more mathy bits of tennis. I’m also really into the whole idea of fictions within fiction, so I liked reading about the films Hal’s dad made. One in particular I found physically disturbing (was sick and felt faint whilst having a coffee in a Deli near my house, very embarrassing!), don’t wanna be too graphic but it was the one about the gay guy picking up an aids-ridden rent boy (even now my stomach is going).
I would love to read Infinite Jest again, but can’t see it happening for a few years. It’s kind of the point Foster-Wallace makes about contemporary society, in that people don’t have time to do anything of value anymore – or don’t push themselves to find the time. I generally try and read 2 quite long, heavy going books a year – last year it was Infinite Jest, Crime and Punishment (surprisingly light I thought), and V by Pynchon (only about 550 pages, but extremely dense). Next year I have ear-marked Gravity Rainbow by Pynchon and the Brothers Karamov by Dostoevsky, would love to re-read the Tin Drum again too. I also suspect the Pale King by Foster-Wallace will take a long-time. Anyways, my point here is that I only really get to read in short bursts, on the bus, lunch-breaks etc, which is pretty crap.
Luckily on the MA part-time course I’m doing the Oblivion Stories Foster-Wallace wrote is on the reading list, the only collection I haven’t read. So can’t wait for that.
How is 100 years of Solitude, I got about ¾ about 3 years ago, but had to stop reading it because of Uni coursework. Keep meaning to revisit it cos I love Magic Realism.
Currently just starting Ceremony by Silko for the third-time which examines the difficulties Native Amercian Indians have establishing an identity and culture in modern America. Reading it for my MA to support an essay I plan to write over Christmas to do with the invention of Nationalism, and constructed memories of nationality.