c/d: 'infinite jest'

Message Bookmarked
Bookmark Removed
tonight's favorite sentence:

"Chu has Blott see whether he can lift a bulky old doorless microwave oven that's lying on its side up next to one wall, and Blott tries and barely lifts it, and pules, and Chu marks the oven down for the adults to lift and tells Blott to drop it, which invitation Blott takes literally, and the crash and tinkle infuriate Gopnik and McKenna, who say that scanning for rodents with Blott is like fly-fishing with an epileptic, which cheers Traub up quite a bit."

tom west (thomp), Saturday, 10 December 2005 20:16 (fourteen years ago) link

i know it's the internet's most overdiscussed novel but i like it and i'm curious about it, still. i'm rereading it and noting how much of it that i like is david foster wallace's more uh realist stuff, his writing about gately's recovery and about the little details of interpersonal relationships between the kids; whereas all the insert-your-favorite-buzzword-for-all-the-other-stuff just recedes into the background a whole lot.

tom west (thomp), Saturday, 10 December 2005 20:17 (fourteen years ago) link

Find messages from I Love Books, containing infinite jest.
68 results found

Aimless (Aimless), Saturday, 10 December 2005 22:23 (fourteen years ago) link

...his writing about gately's recovery and about the little details of interpersonal relationships between the kids...

I agree. And, I find his main characters exceptionally moving. Hal will always be one of my favorite fictional characters.

Aimless, I'd happily participate in an infinite number of Infinite Jest discussions!

Cherish, Sunday, 11 December 2005 06:25 (fourteen years ago) link

I think I have made my feelings clear about this book on 30 of those other 67 threads.

Casuistry (Chris P), Sunday, 11 December 2005 09:39 (fourteen years ago) link

Yeah, I am always happy to see this discussed - it's not just my favourite novel but also the one I've enjoyed most which is a pretty rare double, with me, for favourites.

Something amazing about it is reading ASFT after and realising how few of Wallace's obsessions actually made it into his first two books, like he was consciously holding off writing about them until he'd grown enough as a writer to do them justice...

Gravel Puzzleworth (Gregory Henry), Sunday, 11 December 2005 12:34 (fourteen years ago) link

dud. i gave it 180 pages. couldn't be bothered once it got into the stoned guy waiting for his man, described in long, long run-on sentences. boring. too bad, too. the nfl place-kicker as literary character has a lot of potential. it's like, whoa, you're successful, a half mil a year, a trophy babe, some name recognition, but you'll still always just be a kicker. angsty stares out of million dollar condo windows. i'll take jack vance's way with footnotes too over dfw's with endnotes.

Benito Cereno, Sunday, 11 December 2005 21:40 (fourteen years ago) link

About 3-500 pages of IJ are the best fiction DFW has written. ASFT pwns it though. Curious about the new essay collection.

adam (adam), Sunday, 11 December 2005 21:53 (fourteen years ago) link

'consider the lobster'? just ... no. no, i do not want to consider the lobster. sorry.

tom west (thomp), Sunday, 11 December 2005 22:30 (fourteen years ago) link

chris i swear on all the other threads you say you haven't read it

orin's self-pity is just one aspect of his being a jerk, which i like, the way in which he has become a jerk and how it is handled.

big duh for missing out the first time that both steeplys were the same person: god i was dumb.

tom west (thomp), Sunday, 11 December 2005 22:32 (fourteen years ago) link

I read 200-300 pages, and despised it.

Casuistry (Chris P), Sunday, 11 December 2005 23:14 (fourteen years ago) link

it's a bit long, innit

first google result for 'consider the lobster' = www.lobsterlib.com! i guess wallace (or someone) gave them permission to reprint the article, which is kinda cool. i'm looking forward to it, his essays are pretty remarkable things.

[], Sunday, 11 December 2005 23:16 (fourteen years ago) link

Yes, it certainly is a bit bloated. I think I could deal with this book and respect DFW's style when I was like 19 and, you know, hadn't read much. A year or so later I had more or less dismissed the thing entirely and now, several years later, the fact that I spent so many hours sludging through the whole thing makes me feel rather pathetic.

Clay (cws), Monday, 12 December 2005 02:00 (fourteen years ago) link

it certainly helped me to have read it during my freshman year of college (which apparently was the year the paperback version came out, spring of 1997?).

Josh (Josh), Monday, 12 December 2005 05:30 (fourteen years ago) link

yeah well i read it at sixteen, fuck all y'all

tom west (thomp), Monday, 12 December 2005 06:02 (fourteen years ago) link

that lobster article makes me see the case against wallace more than anything in the first three hundred pages of infinite jest could, i think. it's just ... you know, everyone who knows at least one vegetarian has got that far, and who doesn't know at least one vegetarian, sort of thing. whilst the stuff on the festival is less interesting than his not-all-that-great thing on the state fair in A Supposedly Fun Thing ... i'm-smartisms being more interesting when combined with some kind of insight. also it was a pdf file and those annoy me.

tom west (thomp), Monday, 12 December 2005 06:42 (fourteen years ago) link

I don't really have a case against Wallace. I liked parts of ASFT (esp. the title essay) and Brief Interviews and had nothing against the stories I read in GWCH. But the cutesy mannerisms in IJ (such as in the bit quoted at the beginning of this thread, or the allegedly funny "Year of the Depends Adult Undergarment" stuff) are like nails on chalkboard for me.

Casuistry (Chris P), Monday, 12 December 2005 07:21 (fourteen years ago) link

ha i didn't pick that bit for cutesiness.

"allegedly funny" is good: i do honestly think there's lots of stuff that's meant to look as if it's meant to be funny mostly as a kind of distraction. i dunno, i think it ties in with his stance on irony - also i think it's the upshot of a thousand-page manuscript, not that i've ever written a thousand-page manuscript: i don't think "Year Of The Depend Adult Undergarment" is going to seem all that funny to anyone, the ninetieth time they've written it ...

what the years thing does manage to do is obfuscate where everything you're reading about happens, chronologically, for the first half of the book or so. i dunno, the stuff with Incandenza's filmography is a better example of what i'm trying to get to.

like: 'Blood Sister: One Tough Nun'. okay, this is a pretty feeble gag. (although the better gag is that it's part of a whole genre of religious action heroes that exists in the postmillenial America DFW is writing, though this is only worth about a 4.5 out of 10, as a joke, to me.) the entire incandenza filmography (the longest footnote in the book, and the first one with any kind of substantial content) looks at first like it's just gags, and bad gags, but throughout the book his films get brought up in ways that require the reader* to re-evaluate it. Towards the end Hal is watching Blood Sister... and there's a lot on it, about why hal doesn't like it, about it's relation to his father's biography, making this silly gag serve the serious purpose of fleshing his father out as a character, about hal (and bridget boone's) reactions in a way that seemed (to me, last night, at least) really quite surprisingly poignant..

that said i don't think i've found anything actually funny in about 48 hours, so all of this might just be me.

*well, i hate saying that the author "requires" anything the reader: it sounds so bossy and formal and horrid.

tom west (thomp), Tuesday, 13 December 2005 12:54 (fourteen years ago) link

well, that kind of petered out as i was developing the illusion of getting to a point, didn't it. sigh. also there's lots of stuff with a recurring image of, i think, st. theresa, that starts with the filmography...

tom west (thomp), Tuesday, 13 December 2005 12:59 (fourteen years ago) link

(I agree with tw about the filmography)

Gravel Puzzleworth (Gregory Henry), Tuesday, 13 December 2005 21:28 (fourteen years ago) link

I read this on assignment when it first came out, and because I had to do a kind of forced march through it the irritating things really irritated me, and the good things I may not have noticed that much (that's what reviewing will do to you), but I have always been impressed by the sections on AA, which sound like they have a lot of research and thought and empathy behind them. In some ways, they remind me of the essays in ASFT--only looser, of course, with a more freewheeling style. They also remind me of my favorite story in GWCH, about the assistant to LBJ whose lover dies of AIDS at a time when no one knew what the disease was. Which is all just to say that the closer DFW gets to real human beings, and our own reality, the more I like him.

moriarty (moriarty), Wednesday, 14 December 2005 23:29 (fourteen years ago) link

I am weirded out by the idea that Wallace was "saving obsessions" through the first two novels in order to unleash them on the first essay collection -- particularly given that (a) a lot of those essays were written before or during the novel-writing, and (b) a lot of those essays were magazine assignments, which makes it kind of an open question whether DFW would otherwise have even been interested enough in the topics to begin writing about them.

Thing is, "essay"-wise, the guy is just a very good feature-writer, and judging by the new collection he's gotten better and better at it. Even his constant use of footnotes seems to have something to do with this -- reading the new collection it becomes clearer and clearer how he's writing magazine-style features and then more or less tucking all of the novelist's "thinkpiece" and "analysis" stuff at the bottom of the page. (I.e., it's almost more a genre thing than a stylistic one.) The lobster essay is both lousy and also bizarre -- he was sent by Gourmet to write about a lobster festival, and does so for approximately four pages before going off on lobster-pain and winding up going "I dunno, it's complicated, but I'm mostly just curious if Gourmet readers even think about that stuff at all?" Which is kind of fascinating and perverse but not exactly good writing.

But but. The Harper's grammar-and-usage essay is in there, and it's one of my favorites apart from that almighty television-and-fiction one. The Rolling Stone John McCain primary-season is in there in full, and reads even more terrifically than it did at the time. There's a piece called "Host" that I never saw on publication, I guess -- a profile of an average-seeming talk-radio host and the mechanics of his station -- and that was a great first-read, too; I'm a little wierded out sometimes by DFW-on-politics, because he has this kind of over-thoughtful moderation that can start to seem unimaginative (too much moral care and not enough moral vigor?), but like I said, he's a good feature-writer, part of which is knowing how to feature something other than your own thoughts.

(Ha: "good feature writer" = anyone even vaguely liberal who can spend weeks hanging around a shouty AM talk-radio station without picking fights / going nuts / killing self / becoming completely poisoned and uncharitable to the extent of not being able to "feature" the place at all?)

If there's any problem with collections like this, it's just the gap between what's a terrific piece in a magazine or newspaper and what seems worthy of single-writer collections, bought in hardcover or whatever. It's those big ones -- grammar, McCain, talk radio -- that can kinda sell this as a book. A lot of the others are great, but in a different way: there's a really sharp piece on a sports biography that would totally make your day if you caught it in a newspaper or alt-weekly or whatever, but I can imagine plenty of you growsing that a really well-written review requires something more than it's well-writtenness to seem worthy of going in a book?

nabisco (nabisco), Wednesday, 14 December 2005 23:49 (fourteen years ago) link

Oh and ha: there's also a very restrained, small-scope piece on initial reactions to 9/11 in Bloomington, IL -- a short piece about sitting in a house with middle-aged women from his church and watching the news coverage -- that I'm curious how others will read. (It seems to be directed across some perceived divide, like DFW wants to take regular ol Illinois folk up and show everyone what they're really like, but I don't want to get too far into that until I can figure out how some other points of view might work.) The most amazing thing about this essay is that -- totally, totally in passing -- DFW suddenly reveals an intense antipathy toward this one woman's son, in a way that's kind of funny and intriguing, I think.

nabisco (nabisco), Wednesday, 14 December 2005 23:56 (fourteen years ago) link

haha, i find myself looking forward to that

is the harper's grammar one the one connected to the kerfuffle about his, uh, not overly wise comments to a black student?

tom west (thomp), Thursday, 15 December 2005 01:07 (fourteen years ago) link

yes. "tense present," it's titled.

W i l l (common_person), Thursday, 15 December 2005 02:02 (fourteen years ago) link

"Host" was in the Atlantic Monthly. only thing i've ever read by him, but the footnotes weren't so bad because they were done in colors!

ryan (ryan), Thursday, 15 December 2005 03:15 (fourteen years ago) link

I am weirded out by the idea that Wallace was "saving obsessions" through the first two novels in order to unleash them on the first essay collection -- particularly given that (a) a lot of those essays were written before or during the novel-writing, and (b) a lot of those essays were magazine assignments, which makes it kind of an open question whether DFW would otherwise have even been interested enough in the topics to begin writing about them.

nabisco I was talking about IJ! I am using ASFT as evidence of the obsessions, and saying how few of them made it into the first two fiction books.

Gravel Puzzleworth (Gregory Henry), Thursday, 15 December 2005 20:02 (fourteen years ago) link

I just looked up 'consider the lobster' on amazon (uk) - anyway, on the (uk) cover there's a quote: "the heir apparent to Thomas Pynchon". which is something to do with the general kind of question I'm curious about, that more or less everyone (here) who likes DFW seems to like DFW when he's being human and up-close and doing some fairly traditional writerly-type things*, what's all the other stuff (the giant infants and wheelchair terrorists; the stylstic tics and the signposted 'experimental' bits) doing in his books? does wanting to look at it this way reveal more about easy-to-fall-into ways of thinking about writers than it does about DFW?

I think possibly if I were rereading Brief Interviews, rather than Infinite Jest, I'd not want to ask this question.

*the magazine articles as well as the novels! there's something (proceeds to speak from hindquarters) 19th-century magazine reportage about them, about their not quite knowing what's expected of confronting this particular form -

tom west (thomp), Thursday, 15 December 2005 20:09 (fourteen years ago) link

("the giant infants and wheelchair terrorists; the stylstic (sic; apologies) tics and the signposted 'experimental' bits")

leaving aside the narrative absurdities, which might be a little harder to categorise, i'm quite curious about wallace's 'style': in that there are lots of bits of writing in Infinite Jest and Brief Interviews where wallace is deliberately not writing his 'style', and lots of bits where he exacerbates particular bits of his 'style', or at least particular stylistic tics, either with some kind of result in mind or just to see what happens.

his regular prose style involves kind of fuzzying out of direct pronouncements of things in favour of either an academic(?) or a how-regular-people-talk circumlocutory way of putting them. there's a peculiar fondness for these dangling (modifiers? i dunno) post-comma, ending a sentence, like (at random):

"The whole thing started out looking like tit-on-a-tray, burglary-wise."

(in which we have a common-speech usage or two stuck together in a way on the page where they look pretty much like something someone would never say.) (actually i could do with giving about half a dozen more examples here but then this starts to look a bit much like work.)

one of the upshots of it is that his prose is very rarely limpid in that stereotypical literary prose way; combined with a tendency to decompress, to refuse to reduce a scene to the essentials, i think this is what a lot of people see as "cold" or "robotic" about the writing, maybe - ? anyway i recall being disappointed with 'oblivion' because I realised, reading it, that Wallace really did have a very particular style, almost a schtick. This effect being in part i) because 'oblivion' unlike the previous two books didn't have any particular "here-i-am-writing-in-a-non-david-foster-wallace-idiom" bits ii) because with the most immediately schticky aspect removed (the footnotes, duh) the almost-schtickiness rest of the writing showed up a little more.

tom west (thomp), Thursday, 15 December 2005 20:28 (fourteen years ago) link

on this thread - david foster wallace - is he a cunt? - nabisco goes into DFW's 'style' with particular reference to his essays rather more lucidly than i can, and with proper capitalisation too

tom west (thomp), Thursday, 15 December 2005 20:30 (fourteen years ago) link

(The publisher originally tried to do the footnotes to "Host" in color but it just didn't work out, ryan. Pricey, ouch!)

Laurel (Laurel), Thursday, 15 December 2005 21:31 (fourteen years ago) link

I enjoyed Brief Interviews more for the gamut of writing styles than for any of the characters or stories or whatnot. Except for "The Depressed Person" or whatever it's called and maybe one or two of the interviews themsevles, I don't remember any of the characters or plots, but I remember the overall writing styles clearly and pleasantly. Even the ones that I didn't think worked out so well (the one where the second half consists of just notes to the story, say) still seemed like they added to the pile of possible techniques (ways of reading the world) which was the main pleasure of the text.

Casuistry (Chris P), Thursday, 15 December 2005 23:38 (fourteen years ago) link

so i got the lobster book: one thing that seems kinda odd to me is how free and easy DFW seems with the idea (not exclusively his, obviously) that there was some mythical pre-60s or pre-WWII pre-irony time when people didn't have complicated second-degree-self-aware reactions to things, which, well, seems kinda odd to me

tom west (thomp), Monday, 19 December 2005 02:43 (fourteen years ago) link

this being only really in evidence in that appeal at the end of 'up simba', although the bloomington piece has some similar stuff going on, but being more something i recall linking with DFW in the past, more than something suddenly chanced upon in this text.

tom west (thomp), Monday, 19 December 2005 02:45 (fourteen years ago) link

four years pass...

rereading this again. forgot i'd done this, the first time

thomp, Monday, 5 April 2010 13:20 (ten years ago) link

by which i mean, started a thread to ramble on about it.

i do honestly think there's lots of stuff that's meant to look as if it's meant to be funny mostly as a kind of distraction

this has been popping out at me more and more. i think dfw uses this mode of, like, parodic science fiction (not parodic of science fiction, it's one that shows up in like 50s SF itself) to do these sweeping broad versions of his theme without having to invest them with seriousness or probability, which i think is valuable. the bit about the rise of videophones leading to downfall in self-confidence about how one looks leading to the demise of videophones is maybe the most striking example i guess. closing sentence:

"Even then, of course, the bulk of U.S. consumers remained verifiably reluctant to leave home and teleputer and to interface personally, though this phenomenon's endurance can't be attributed to the videophony-fad per se, and anyway the new panagoraphobia served to open huge new entrepreneurial teleputerized markets for home-shopping and -delivery, and didn't cause much industry concern."

thomp, Monday, 5 April 2010 13:29 (ten years ago) link

which i find it kind of interesting, actually, how this novel (conceived in what, the early 90s?), which is set in i think 2010, though it's hard to tell, doesn't get the internet entirely wrong ...

thomp, Monday, 5 April 2010 13:30 (ten years ago) link

he gets the internet/mass entertainment totally right!

Mr. Que, Monday, 5 April 2010 13:47 (ten years ago) link

i kind of agree with you--the book takes a while to warm up. there's all this seemingly random stuff he throws at the reader. (the e-mail about the construction worker, the videophone stuff, filmography.) i think the book works better for me when he incorporates that sort of material into the story more--like, for example, Mario's movie about Interdependence Day.

Mr. Que, Monday, 5 April 2010 13:54 (ten years ago) link

this (third time) is the first time that i've read it and basically known where this stuff is going and how it's connected, like, reading stuff about Mildred Bonk and Ken Erdedy and remembering well enough to skip forward to the bit where the residents of Ennet House are enumerated; though ha i did just cheat and google to work out who 'yrstruly' is.

thomp, Monday, 5 April 2010 14:00 (ten years ago) link

(also found someone on a blog complaining that his attempt at "Ebonics" in that section was so bad as to be offensive, which uh)

thomp, Monday, 5 April 2010 14:02 (ten years ago) link

that Ebonics section is pretty bleh, tho

Mr. Que, Monday, 5 April 2010 14:05 (ten years ago) link

that was the only section in the whole book that made me go 'really, dfw?'

rinse the lemonade (Jordan), Monday, 5 April 2010 14:20 (ten years ago) link

the narrator's white! and racist!

thomp, Monday, 5 April 2010 14:45 (ten years ago) link

i'm reserving judgement on the actual ebonics bit, tho ("Wardine say her momma aint treat her right." etc.)

thomp, Monday, 5 April 2010 14:46 (ten years ago) link

have this book taunting me from beside my bed for a while. its so fucking big and difficult to hold tho.

plax (ico), Monday, 5 April 2010 14:46 (ten years ago) link

i wonder to what degree my tendency to enjoy this sort of overmassive encyclopedic stuff is biologically predicated by my ridiculously huge spider hands

thomp, Monday, 5 April 2010 14:48 (ten years ago) link

oh duh i never linked mario's arachnodactyly with his father's fear of spiders before

thomp, Monday, 5 April 2010 14:50 (ten years ago) link

"This is a thing I do know. They can't kick you out."

thomp, Wednesday, 7 April 2010 00:31 (ten years ago) link

i cant imagine reading this book 3x

f a ole schwarzwelt (Lamp), Wednesday, 7 April 2010 00:47 (ten years ago) link

Ha yikes

Beatrix Kiddo (Raymond Cummings), Sunday, 26 May 2013 04:16 (seven years ago) link

that would be a much better illustration for the deluxe edition

j., Sunday, 26 May 2013 06:50 (seven years ago) link

Mark Steyn on Zombies

Clay, Sunday, 26 May 2013 07:06 (seven years ago) link

j i thought you were anti this book

the bitcoin comic (thomp), Sunday, 26 May 2013 09:13 (seven years ago) link

you must have been projecting in order to feel more secure as you broke away from the core of the dfw community

j., Sunday, 26 May 2013 20:36 (seven years ago) link

two years pass...

reading this on a kindle screen feels quite different. the words have more precision, somehow. more of a center of gravity.

j., Tuesday, 2 February 2016 16:59 (four years ago) link

also i have been reading a lot of old timey english prose the past couple years and i have to say aimless otm above

j., Tuesday, 2 February 2016 19:15 (four years ago) link


How do you go about navigating those footnotes on a Kindle? I don't use one so I'm curious as to its effectiveness. I'd like to try it, though imagine something might be lost through not carrying around a book that continues to remind you of its physical presence even when you're not reading it. I think I'm approaching a second read...

tangenttangent, Tuesday, 2 February 2016 19:56 (four years ago) link

i haven't gotten to one yet

j., Tuesday, 2 February 2016 20:00 (four years ago) link

I read this on a Kindle like two years ago. Worked fairly well with a few hiccups. You'd click on the superscript in the main text and you'd get a pop-up of the endnote iirc. Issues arose when the endnote was too long which (lol DFW) happens a few times. You'd get to a line and then you'd get some programming babble and then everything past that was truncated. In these cases you'd have to manually navigate to the endnote instead of using that "pop-up" method.

IDK if this has been fixed/changed in the past two years.

circa1916, Tuesday, 2 February 2016 20:24 (four years ago) link

cover of the 20th anniversary edition coming out in a few weeks is pretty ugly


why not stick with the sky motif? i really like the covers of the first three editions

flappy bird, Wednesday, 3 February 2016 00:01 (four years ago) link

are you serious

j., Wednesday, 3 February 2016 00:19 (four years ago) link

a very special christmas

Toof Seteltha (Sufjan Grafton), Wednesday, 3 February 2016 00:35 (four years ago) link

I finished this 4 years ago and can't remember much about it! It's about tennis, right?

kinder, Wednesday, 3 February 2016 14:31 (four years ago) link

what the hell is that cover

johnny crunch, Wednesday, 3 February 2016 15:40 (four years ago) link

It was a contest. This is the dude who won, big blog about his process and all the designs he came up with first. Pretty much all of them suck. I don't like the TV motif. The sky was perfect...but whatever. No need to buy another copy of Infinite Jest. http://www.joewalshdesign.com/#/infinite-jest/

flappy bird, Wednesday, 3 February 2016 18:25 (four years ago) link

Was he a Roky Erickson fan?

Glissendorfin' Machine (James Redd and the Blecchs), Wednesday, 3 February 2016 18:26 (four years ago) link

wow that's a bad cover

Cornelius Pardew (jim in glasgow), Wednesday, 3 February 2016 18:34 (four years ago) link

tbf it's better than all the designer's other attempts

mookieproof, Wednesday, 3 February 2016 18:38 (four years ago) link

three years pass...

i am... rereading this. idk why lol

american bradass (BradNelson), Sunday, 11 August 2019 14:42 (eleven months ago) link

it's delightful of course, so readable and accessible for something so forbidding in shape. some of the things that bothered me about the novel ten years ago (for example: anytime a man's focus zooms in on someone's breasts; uss millicent kent's central trauma being that her dad is a transvestite is not a funny joke) are worse now because idk they do not seem to be ugly reflections of human nature that still get at some essential truth much as they are projections that aren't even necessary to the characters that have them. realizing this is a rich critique of a novel that is in many ways about projection but for me it's distracting not illuminating

it's a small complaint. i did enjoy reading nabisco on the "wardine say" section upthread

american bradass (BradNelson), Sunday, 11 August 2019 14:48 (eleven months ago) link

novel definitely takes place in the interval of netflix still having mail-oriented dvd service but having also introduced netflix instant so yeah 2009-2010. i am usually not into determining what a speculative novel got "right" vs. what it got "wrong" (latter is way more interesting anyway) but the death of tv and the transition to all on-demand programming... that shit's pretty good

american bradass (BradNelson), Sunday, 11 August 2019 14:54 (eleven months ago) link

I read this in the summer of '99 (mostly taking the long way to and from my job and reading while I walked through my mostly-empty college campus). Long before I ever heard another human utter his name. Loved it at the time and still vividly recall certain portions, but I'd be interested to see how it holds up now that I'm twice as old as I was then.

Come and Rock Me, Hot Potatoes (Old Lunch), Sunday, 11 August 2019 15:03 (eleven months ago) link

it's amazing how much of it sticks in your memory, i even kinda remember the order of scenes. it's been ten years!

american bradass (BradNelson), Sunday, 11 August 2019 15:15 (eleven months ago) link

also a little more fun to read now that i've been to boston several times

american bradass (BradNelson), Sunday, 11 August 2019 15:18 (eleven months ago) link

guess I should give it a try, eh?

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Sunday, 11 August 2019 15:18 (eleven months ago) link

why not? imo it goes fast for 1000 pages

american bradass (BradNelson), Sunday, 11 August 2019 15:25 (eleven months ago) link

Having grown up and lived in the places he describes was a big part of my enjoyment of the book. The school and half way house were situated just down the road from where my parents lived at the time.

Mario Meatwagon (Moodles), Sunday, 11 August 2019 15:31 (eleven months ago) link

It was my favorite book when I was a college. Recommended to me, a c-average high school honors student, by my straight-a AP friends. I always thought that despite its length and footnotes and digressions, all of which I still hear it assailed for to this day, it was incredibly readable in ways that other recommendations from them, such as Gravity's Rainbow, were not. I'm sure that, as a 19-year-old community college burnout, I didn't understand everything about this book, but I fell absolutely in love with it. It was the most important book in my choosing Literature as a major (regrets regrets regrets), hoping maybe to recapture the high I felt reading it.

My hardcover copy is one of the only books that I've held onto from that era that I've held onto throughout every move and life transition, but I haven't actually cracked it since the mid-2000s. I was incredibly disillusioned when Wallace committed suicide and the outpouring of his biographical details in the press afterward. It hadn't occured to me that this guy writing about depression, suicide, and drug addiction was actually experiencing these problems in his life. I had created this stupid platonic ideal in my head that he was just creating all of this, and supplementing his fantasical creation with research. That the acknowledgement of AA on the copyright page was just part of a totally-immersive, exhaustively journalistic research ethic.

So I haven't read it since then, and the Lit major broke me of my urge to ever read anything vaguely literary again. I stick mostly to true crime and rockstar autobiographies these days. But I thought about him last week when David Berman died. I had no such illusions about Berman's relationship with the depression - it all seemed very obvious to me that he was writing from a very real, very dark place. Wallace just seemed more academic, more removed to me. But they both had such warm voices and good humor, bringing me comfort in their discomfort.

☮ (peace, man), Sunday, 11 August 2019 15:50 (eleven months ago) link

When I first read this, as 20-year-old in the late 90s, I was thrilled by exactly the showy-precocious-clever angles that Wallace was nursing some embarrassment and dissatisfaction with, and I did not, I don’t think, properly absorb nearly enough of the useful stuff he was trying to push past those angles to get into. (This is an uncontroversial way to see Wallace, right? As someone who understood he had inbuilt impulses toward the brainy-funny-thinky stuff, worried those impulses were glib and empty and juvenile, and wanted to find a way to something more sustaining?)

So for a long time, whenever I’d go back and reread sections, it was with a similar sense of how dumb and dweeby and irritating and point-missing I have been, a lot, in life, which I guess you could call an index of better reading and personal growth but doesn’t always feel positive or great, sort of like reading one’s own ILX posts from 2002 and marveling at what a shitty little disordered high-handed weasel one spent too much of one’s life being without even really realizing it.

If this sounds suspiciously like an account of someone’s personal stuff wrapped around another guy’s fiction, well, yeah, and that is something I personally will probably always find interesting about this book.

But an interesting thing is that maybe a year ago I looked at it again and I had finally come around, a little, and felt protective of some of the impulses the author may have worried about but clearly enjoyed and could not escape, because they are pleasurable and have that certain energy that was maybe more common and acceptable in fiction at the time — the pure pleasure of making up fun or funny or strange or dazzling things, playing with words and ideas and images in interesting ways, pulling off tricks because why not. Which clearly isn’t some kind of vestigial problem with this book, or a drag on some deeper or more sustaining thing. It’s its own joy, maybe, with its own value.

ንፁህ አበበ (nabisco), Tuesday, 13 August 2019 23:49 (eleven months ago) link

Whoa, welcome back man <3

Le Bateau Ivre, Tuesday, 13 August 2019 23:59 (eleven months ago) link


feels good

Blues Guitar Solo Heatmap (Free Download) (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Wednesday, 14 August 2019 00:44 (ten months ago) link

eight months pass...

Love the list of films by James incandenza

calstars, Sunday, 10 May 2020 01:15 (two months ago) link

Re reading this ten years after a first run
Eminently readable

calstars, Sunday, 10 May 2020 01:15 (two months ago) link

I sometimes wonder if this would hit me as hard as it did 20+ years ago

Mario Meatwagon (Moodles), Sunday, 10 May 2020 01:58 (two months ago) link

Yeah I liked that stuff. Pretty acute avant-garde film riffing, didn’t seem cheap or clueless like parodies of that sorta thing almost always are. Fun, funny, interesting way of building out that character and his timeline.


circa1916, Sunday, 10 May 2020 02:08 (two months ago) link

it's fun to go back to that footnote every time one of incandenza's movies is described in the text. those little summaries in the footnote are often very reductive in hilarious ways

mellon collie and the infinite bradness (BradNelson), Sunday, 10 May 2020 02:21 (two months ago) link

i did finally finish this reread a few months ago, was kinda blown away all over again by it

mellon collie and the infinite bradness (BradNelson), Sunday, 10 May 2020 02:22 (two months ago) link

ten years ago i must've had the "hm... i only have a few pages left but it doesn't seem like the book is ending... oh... ohhhhh.... ok THIS is how he's ending it????" experience but i had it all over again

mellon collie and the infinite bradness (BradNelson), Sunday, 10 May 2020 02:24 (two months ago) link

i don't know if i'll ever do it again but i had a blast reading infinite jest.

call all destroyer, Sunday, 10 May 2020 02:34 (two months ago) link

Ending is incredibly bleak and heartbreaking

Mario Meatwagon (Moodles), Sunday, 10 May 2020 02:51 (two months ago) link

i do not read it that way. don had to hit his bottom again but it's like a spiritual breakthrough

mellon collie and the infinite bradness (BradNelson), Sunday, 10 May 2020 03:06 (two months ago) link

oh but the scene itself is incredibly bleak yeah

mellon collie and the infinite bradness (BradNelson), Sunday, 10 May 2020 03:07 (two months ago) link

I read this maybe past the maximum impact age or just the right age. 30. I loved it. Kind of an impeccable balancing act. Burned through it like a teenager with a Stephen King book. All of DFW’s thoughts about the values and perils of entertainment and the unfair impenetrability but worthiness of ~srs art~ encapsulated in just the right way.

I know it’s a Lit Bro totem and I went in super skeptical, but it’s legitimately pretty great.

circa1916, Sunday, 10 May 2020 03:14 (two months ago) link

I conflate it in my mind with Gravity’s Rainbow for some reason but it’s so much more enjoyable. I should prob give GR another try though. My favorite Pynchon is inherent vice.

calstars, Sunday, 10 May 2020 14:44 (two months ago) link

gravity’s rainbow > infinite jest but yes the former is more difficult

mellon collie and the infinite bradness (BradNelson), Sunday, 10 May 2020 15:33 (two months ago) link

i wanna read mason & dixon i’m guessing that’d be my preferred pynchon epic

mellon collie and the infinite bradness (BradNelson), Sunday, 10 May 2020 15:35 (two months ago) link

ten years ago i must've had the "hm... i only have a few pages left but it doesn't seem like the book is ending... oh... ohhhhh.... ok THIS is how he's ending it????" experience but i had it all over again

― mellon collie and the infinite bradness (BradNelson), Saturday, May 9, 2020 10:24 PM (yesterday) bookmarkflaglink

i remember i had to recalibrate and reread the whole thing after having this reaction the first time

ciderpress, Sunday, 10 May 2020 17:54 (two months ago) link

I did the same, but he passed when I was in the middle of my reread and I had to put it down

karl...arlk...rlka...lkar..., Sunday, 10 May 2020 19:20 (two months ago) link

You must be logged in to post. Please either login here, or if you are not registered, you may register here.