c/d: 'infinite jest'

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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.
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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

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 (four 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 (four 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 (four 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 (four 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 (four months ago) link

three months pass...

i swear there's a stupid twitter thread trending like every two months about how no one who has a copy of this book can be trusted and it's more annoying every time it happens

(The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Monday, 24 August 2020 23:58 (one month ago) link

This was the best take I saw:

liberal feminists can’t imagine men being anything other than indifferent to them, which i guess is why they have contempt for goethe — an author whose male protagonists were so devoted to their one true loves they either sold their souls to the devil or killed themselves 💅 https://t.co/Qelqnt3itX

— hannah e. (@hurlinspiel) August 24, 2020

The offending tweet led to a lot of debate on the merits of Goethe on my TL. His poetry never did much for me but I think I'll give Sorrows...a go sometime.

xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 25 August 2020 09:29 (one month ago) link

Christ I had to block the initial tweet because my secondhand embarrassment was off the charts - does this shit have to be posted here too?

beef stannin’ (gyac), Tuesday, 25 August 2020 09:30 (one month ago) link

yes...yes it does

xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 25 August 2020 09:51 (one month ago) link

once at my old job a couple of my co-workers were sneerily agreeing with each other that dfw's essays were far superior to infinite jest and it felt as uncomfortably close to real-world twitter as i ever want to be

(The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Tuesday, 25 August 2020 10:17 (one month ago) link

Of course twitter is actually lots people countering that narrative of DFW being terrible.

xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 25 August 2020 11:03 (one month ago) link

that McHugh comment and the replies are a solid reminder of why i stay the fuck away from Twitter.

seriously don't know why you'd bother posting shit like this (none of which are HOT FRESH TAKES except (lol?) Goethe) other than to shake the beehive.

circa1916, Tuesday, 25 August 2020 12:20 (one month ago) link

we stan the tiktok turgenev teens

mark s, Tuesday, 25 August 2020 12:27 (one month ago) link

DFW was a terrible guy, by all accounts.

I have some fond memories of Infinite Jest from my only read, in the summer of 2002. I remember some scenes with the older brother tennis kid sort of sneaking around the school complex, and how his inner world was written with such precision... And of course, a lot about rehab.

I love a lot of DFWs essays, and his short story 'Incarnations of Burned Children' is among the best short shorts written in the past fifty years. Students are horrified but also love talking about it.

healthy cocaine off perfect butts (the table is the table), Tuesday, 25 August 2020 12:37 (one month ago) link

I should say, I thought they were very precise depictions at the time, and I was also 17 going on 18 at the time, so there's that.

healthy cocaine off perfect butts (the table is the table), Tuesday, 25 August 2020 12:38 (one month ago) link

if liking this book makes me undateable then so be it

ciderpress, Tuesday, 25 August 2020 13:21 (one month ago) link

So glad I had the chance to read and enjoy this years before everyone was required to voice an opinion about it.

the secret of sucess is to know all rules ...and brake them (Old Lunch), Tuesday, 25 August 2020 13:37 (one month ago) link

it's pretty clear never having read Infinite Jest is not a barrier to having a big opinion about it

Blues Guitar Solo Heatmap (Free Download) (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Tuesday, 25 August 2020 14:14 (one month ago) link

I haven't read this book but I have read 10000 posts about it

xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 25 August 2020 14:43 (one month ago) link

This came up recently in conversation with my core friend group and all of the women are IJ fans, but we're all mid to late 30s, which is probably the real dividing line here.

change display name (Jordan), Tuesday, 25 August 2020 15:07 (one month ago) link

So glad I had the chance to read and enjoy this years before everyone was required to voice an opinion about it.

― the secret of sucess is to know all rules ...and brake them (Old Lunch), Tuesday, August 25, 2020 8:37 AM (one hour ago) bookmarkflaglink

ditto, I read broom of the system when it came out and there was no cultural weight attached to it whatsoever, even when IJ made a splash it was still something that mostly weird lit people had an opinion about, if you were talking "books that might impede a hookup" in the 90s it was, like, ayn rand or the celestine prophecy

Guayaquil (eephus!), Tuesday, 25 August 2020 15:27 (one month ago) link

Yeah, it probably wasn't until at least the release of I guess Consider the Lobster that I got the impression that he made much of an impression on anyone beyond literary critics. I certainly didn't know anyone else who read his stuff.

the secret of sucess is to know all rules ...and brake them (Old Lunch), Tuesday, 25 August 2020 15:36 (one month ago) link

if this happens with Pynchon I am quitting society

need to read IJ this winter

imago, Tuesday, 25 August 2020 15:39 (one month ago) link

I've had an unread copy on my shelf for something like 15 years now.

jmm, Tuesday, 25 August 2020 15:51 (one month ago) link

me too but for gravity's rainbow

Guayaquil (eephus!), Tuesday, 25 August 2020 15:52 (one month ago) link

Gravity's Rainbow is my Infinite Jest. Don't know how many times I've read those first 90 pages or so.

the secret of sucess is to know all rules ...and brake them (Old Lunch), Tuesday, 25 August 2020 16:01 (one month ago) link

When Pynchon dies twitter will be great again

xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 25 August 2020 16:04 (one month ago) link

I'm picturing these as notes tucked away in the bookshelf. Definitely suss.

Top 7 Warning Signs In a Man's Bookshelf:

6. "Lolita is my favorite book."
7. "'Fathers and Sons' Is my favorite book."

jmm, Tuesday, 25 August 2020 16:06 (one month ago) link

The only comment I'll make about that reductive and generally stupid list is that any dude who fetishizes The Sorrows of Young Werther in particular or its skin-crawlingly creepy protagonist is probably someone to steer well clear of.

the secret of sucess is to know all rules ...and brake them (Old Lunch), Tuesday, 25 August 2020 16:20 (one month ago) link

I wouldn't be at all surprised to learn that it's a big hit in incel circles, for example.

the secret of sucess is to know all rules ...and brake them (Old Lunch), Tuesday, 25 August 2020 16:21 (one month ago) link

I don't get the impression the incel community are big on 18th-century German literature, but I could be wrong

Number None, Tuesday, 25 August 2020 16:27 (one month ago) link

yes, they just pretend to enjoy European culture, they're not reading Goethe, my dude

Temporary Erogenous Zone (jim in vancouver), Tuesday, 25 August 2020 18:10 (one month ago) link

also 99% of people who complain about infinite jest hasn't read it and it's a great book and not a remotely challenging read (I read it back to back with gravity's rainbow, which broke my brain, and the recognitions - which was also a much more difficult read)

Temporary Erogenous Zone (jim in vancouver), Tuesday, 25 August 2020 18:19 (one month ago) link

ok now you're just showing off

Guayaquil (eephus!), Tuesday, 25 August 2020 18:42 (one month ago) link

i mean was that your cooldown after finishing finnegans wake

Guayaquil (eephus!), Tuesday, 25 August 2020 18:43 (one month ago) link

ulysses took me several years iirc. finnegans lake I have read the first page lol

Temporary Erogenous Zone (jim in vancouver), Tuesday, 25 August 2020 18:43 (one month ago) link

me too but for gravity's rainbow


Wait what? You didn’t read this specific copy or any copy ever?

toby, Tuesday, 25 August 2020 18:45 (one month ago) link

I did that sneaky'comic book inside a textbook' thing but with a copy of Finnegan's Wake jammed between the pages of IJ.

the secret of sucess is to know all rules ...and brake them (Old Lunch), Tuesday, 25 August 2020 18:45 (one month ago) link

Finnegan's Wake is great if you just read it aloud and don't pretend to understand it. IJ is not hard! Gravity's Rainbow was too hard for me

my god, it's full of bugles (flamboyant goon tie included), Tuesday, 25 August 2020 18:53 (one month ago) link

IJ isn't hard, just long and in a small font (analog edition)

change display name (Jordan), Tuesday, 25 August 2020 19:07 (one month ago) link

I've been wanting to re-read Oblivion lately

change display name (Jordan), Tuesday, 25 August 2020 19:08 (one month ago) link

Wait what? You didn’t read this specific copy or any copy ever?

started it a couple of times, never read it (the fact that I grimly made my way all the way through V and never started liking it affected my decision-making here)

Guayaquil (eephus!), Tuesday, 25 August 2020 19:10 (one month ago) link

The furthest I made it into GR was about 300 pages, but I'm not sure if my brain was even processing the words on the page at that point. I think I just don't like the way Pynchon uses language. Of his other books, I've only read Crying of Lot 49, which was a much easier read but in my recollection also immensely cheesy.

Infinite Jest is very readable and relatable and compassionate towards its characters, and while there are some digressions into subjects like math or tennis where I'm not entirely sure what's going on, mostly you just need a good dictionary on hand.

peace, man, Tuesday, 25 August 2020 19:22 (one month ago) link

it was really easy for me to get bogged down in dfw's endless descriptions of place much as they're part of the pleasure of reading infinite jest. i was really losing it when hal was trying to attend the AA meeting that ends up being extremely-not-an-AA-meeting and he was just going on for a whole paragraph about what the carpet felt like, come on dude i am 700 pages in here throw me a bone

mellon collie and the infinite bradness (BradNelson), Tuesday, 25 August 2020 19:42 (one month ago) link

gravity's rainbow's shiftings between action-packed slapstick comedy and really dense description are kind of what kept me going through it

mellon collie and the infinite bradness (BradNelson), Tuesday, 25 August 2020 19:48 (one month ago) link

Top 7 warning signs in a woman’s bookshelf:
1. Dog-eared copy of The Second Sex
2. Too Much Sylvia Plath
3. Any amount of Margaret Atwood
4. JUDITH. BUTLER.
5. Angela Carter
6. ‘I’m so inspired by Hilary Clinton, have you read Rodham?’
7. Jack Monroe cookbooks in the kitchen https://t.co/SwPQVxfD2v

— Sebastian Milbank 🥀 (@JSMilbank) August 25, 2020

"Theology Graduate at Cambridge. Blue Labour."

xyzzzz__, Wednesday, 26 August 2020 11:27 (one month ago) link

My thoughts on S Milbank are best not conveyed in writing, but unsurprised he’s a wrong cunt on this as he is everything else.

beef stannin’ (gyac), Wednesday, 26 August 2020 11:40 (one month ago) link

ilx's bookshelf warning signs top 7 could probably be collated from our recent hatethread

imago, Wednesday, 26 August 2020 12:08 (one month ago) link

The Goethe equivalent would be the hard one. Who's the most innocuously classic author that ILX despises?

jmm, Wednesday, 26 August 2020 12:40 (one month ago) link

Man, woman, ilxor, the three genders.

xyzzzz__, Wednesday, 26 August 2020 13:10 (one month ago) link


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