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Omedy Infinite Jest bends every rule of fiction without sacrificing for a moment its own entertainment value It is an exuberant uniuely American exploration of the passions that make us human and one of those rare books that renew the idea of what a novel can do.. I ve been waiting panther like for the right combination of caffeine and personal gumption to strike to attack writing about this since it really is one of my favorite books ever ever and one of the most fascinating things I ve ever read I ve read this book twice and I could care less what people say about it because when I do care I tend to grit my teeth over the ridiculous comments reviews that tend to come up in discussing David Foster Wallace s work People like to levy the criticism that the book is sloppy or digressive Really You think An 1100 page book with 200 pages of small print footnotes might be a little digressive or indulgent or maddening It might stray a wee bit into uncharted dark woods territory JeezThere is in art what I like to call the crazy project Once you go to work on the Crazy Project CP for short you don t leave the Crazy Project You don t FINISH the crazy project You can when you are really involved in it I mean really involved scarcely even talk about it you may not even realize you re involved in it The CP involves being given a hammer the only real tool of the artist a mouthful of nails and being sent over yonder hill and told to do AS MUCH DAMAGE AS YOU POSSIBLY CAN with the hammer you have been given When working on the CP the creative force is one in the same as the destructive force and your hammer is a useful tool regardless of which way you are swinging itI think DFW is one of the most fascinating authors alive he s doing work with the English language in the tradition of Kathy Acker Bill Burroughs or James Joyce The marketplace demands novels and so people oblige but there is a difference between a novel and a BOOK and I would consider a book to be interesting if difficult and less composed and Infinite Jest is definitely a BOOK and shouldn t be treated as a novel in the same way say Life of Pi is a novel and I do think Life of Pi is terrific don t get me wrong But if you want immaculately written works of fiction by Wallace check out his short stories especially the ones in Girl w Curious Hair because these conform to what you would expect from traditional notions of reading fiction If you want a beautiful wildly ambitious insanely indulgent uncompromising mind bending skull violating MESS one that comprises an entire Victorian manor of the Crazy Project then Infinite Jest may well be worth your whileThe book is definitely a mess let s not mince words It is also obsessively compulsively mathematical in the way that DFW seems to enjoy there is an order to the chaos and it did take reading it a second time to pull out some of the exuisitely crafted crystalline plot strands he was working at Linearity coherence of disparate plot elements is not what the book is interested in be warned But before I make the case of this being some academic project with no soul let me say that reading this I was genuinely surprised and moved by how deep real the characters in it become The characters in here are terribly tragic in a real Shakespearian sense the book s title is after all a reference to Hamlet and their tapestry in this book s pages is as intimate and heartrending as it is vast this book is a language project but one that remains absolutely invested in the lives of the people involved in that projectThe book is about a lot of things American culture the nature of desire fathers and sons art addiction institutions drugs consciousness film the nature of narrative too much to go into More than anything I think the book is about addiction and how our desires are moderated and mediated by culture and how desire addiction are entwined and how Westerners approach these thingsInfinite Jest is wildly funny and like I mentioned above almost unexpectedly moving there is a kind of veneer between the reader and the characters they are guarded and stoic people for the most part and getting to know them can be as frustrating as trying to get to know someone in your own life who is guarded and careful with their emotions But over the course of hundreds of pages you learn the inner workings of IJ s huge cast and their emotional motivations and subtleties begin to resonate with you in ways that dig so deep I think they re almost frighteningThis book is dense enough to say the least that I think you can get out of it whatever you are willing to put into it Isn t this true of most good art But the depth here is incredible To say I m biased and a bit blinded to criticisms about this book is hardly the point I think its a marvel I think its a mess I think it taught me what the difference is between a book a novel and why I think BOOKS are what the front line artists working on the Crazy Project are really hammering outupdateaddendum I wrote this when DFW was still alive It pains me to even go back and read this review one of the most fascinating authors alive I can reliably drop the last word of that now DFW s suicide still stings like no other artist for me I do know I m not alone there a lot of people who admire his work feel it We were robbed it s selfish incredibly so but so is suicideObjectively I still think Girl With Curious Hair is probably the best place to start but I didn t start there I started here and it worked out okay Just know this is a glorious mess be patient with it the book wants to be your daddy but you have to be its daddy let it teach you as you guide it it it s a living thing this book all the precious now

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Infinite Jest

About what entertainment is and why it has come to so dominate our lives about how our desire for entertainment affects our need to connect with other people and about what the pleasures we choose say about who we are Eual parts philosophical uest and screwball c. While I don t actually have A Favorite Book or Song or Album or Band or Film or Painting or Sexual Position or any other category of things that contain than one eually great contender Infinite Jest is the first book that immediately comes to mind when the idea of My Favorite Book arisesAs I ve already alluded to and partially instantiated in a few scattered places around GoodReads I feel that I read this book at the right time The contingent particulars which culminated as the temporal whole that was My Life converged with my reading of this book rather beautifully First of all I had zero knowledge of the book and author before and throughout my reading I came upon it as a babe in the woods in these regards I was completely unaware of its popular and largely positive critical reception seven years prior in 1996 For this I am grateful It s all too easy to hop on the backlash bandwagon when critical darlings and it people of the moment emerge on your radar I take great pains to try to avoid this kind of thing but it s not easyI also was juggling a variety of ongoing confused trains of thought about the basic subjects that the book focuses on to boil them down as far as relevantly and reasonably possible Addiction Entertainment and Western Culture specifically that of the modern US of A I was also deep in the trenches of stomach level sadness11 What were you intending to do when you started this bookI wanted to do something sad I d done some funny stuff and some heavy intellectual stuff but I d never done anything sad And I wanted it not to have a single main character The other banality would be I wanted to do something real American about what it s like to live in America around the millennium And what is that likeThere s something particularly sad about it something that doesn t have very much to do with physical circumstances or the economy or any of the stuff that gets talked about in the news It s like a stomach level sadness I see it in myself and my friends in different ways It manifests itself as a kind of lostness Whether it s uniue to our generation I really don t know InterviewI had borrowed the copy that I read the first time around from my best friend at the time who I d been close with since early childhood I d been confiding some existential angst to him about depression and the exacerbation of said depression with miscellaneous self medicating behavioral patterns He responded by solemnly handing me a thick book wrapped in the image of white cumulus clouds imposed upon a bright blue sky Cut to the summer of 2004 I d just finished my first year of real not community college and was working on the buildings and grounds crew around the campus in exchange for eight dollars an hour and a free room I spent the days doing all manner of maintenance and grunt work and my nights poring over this book and dramatically rediscovered the joys of falling head first into a fictional world and the redemptive value of communing with the consciousness of another person through reading and writing I also found another artist to feel a deep kinship with and solely through the type of communion that is mediated by pulped trees and ink Wallace was rather uickly inducted into the ever expanding and occasionally contracting roster that is my pantheon of personal heroes and as such also rapidly ascended through the ranks to sit somewhere vaguely near the zenith point again the trouble with rankingI was hooked in a big way by the time I hit upon the scene describing the torturously self conscious self doubting thoughts of a cannabis addict named Ken Erdedy This was well before the hundredth page mark It perfectly captured the mind of a hyper analytic depressive and compulsive THC ingestor From the sorrowfully resigned glee that all minutely self aware addicts feel at various points along the path of Addiction of planning a two week long marijuana vacation2 to the descriptions of how depressing having sex with someone would be in such an excessively stoned and self loathing state32 Consisting mainly of drawing the blinds shutting off the phone being perpetually intoxicated with pot smoke watching films vigorously masturbating and loads of fractally expanding and contracting shame and despair lurking beneath it all and freuently bursting through the surface for greedy gulps of oxygen and one on one time with the vacationer s psyche This planning is all being done in the context of desperately attempting to find a way to finally pluck the compulsive behavior getting high from his life excessive use of the demonized substance is rationalized as the savior the one thing that will finally make him disgusted enough to uit forever 3 He had never once had actual intercourse on marijuana Frankly the idea repelled him Two dry mouths bumping at each other trying to kiss his self conscious thoughts twisting around on themselves like a snake on a stick while he bucked and snorted dryly above her his swollen eyes red and his face sagging so that its slack folds maybe touch limply the folds of her own loose sagging face as it sloshed back and forth on his pillow its mouth working dryly pp 22 23There s simply too much too many amazing scenes and characters to even begin the process of surgically removing them holding them up to the light of the review and rendering them vague enough to maintain some reuisite mystery and yet contextualized enough to give each pinned down specimen some mouth watering OOMPF for the Dear Reader It simply cannot be done People can cast their gaze in the direction of the myriad collegiate dissertations already written about this book andor a book called Elegant Complexity if they want in depth analysis Luckily many of the people I know who will read this review have already read the novelSo there s a terrible type of rumor that roams around about this book and Wallace generally and these sentiments can be rounded up and boiled down to It s all PoMo trickery and no heart Wrong So very very wrong I ve always seen this book as the emergent propertylocus of a web like arrangement of profoundly emotionally compelling portraits of people places and things This is its core its essence its fundamental organizing principle Yes there are some gags like footnotes and some funny names but what the naysayers seem to overlook are the hundreds of seismically moving descriptions of human struggles and triumphs from the head clutchinglyjaw gapingly dramatic to the very recognizably monotonous which can be very edifying this process of recognition from the painfully inherently private and singular to the monumentally universal and public Wallace s desire to write a sorrowful book is fully realized here I think it s safe to say that this a tragedy in the Shakespearean4 sense of the term and that it like the greatest tragedies does not simply pummel you with darkness but pokes holes of humor and joy through the opaue veil to allow for some breathing room Indeed there are some extremely funny things going on in this book and it s mostly a darker shade of humor that is employing them Not at all like putting a clown nose on a prisoner being executed or anything DFW is much naturally funny than that but a beautiful balance of the genuinely sad the genuinely funny and the instances of absurdity where both overlap4 FYI The title comes from a line in Hamlet Alas poor Yorick I knew him Horatio a fellow of infinite jest of most excellent fancyI also think of this book as mostly embodying a style of realism though there are occasionally some rather extraordinary things taking place as well What I m trying to stress is that it s not some non stop ride of wacky gimmicks and metafiction which is strangely and mistakenly the impression some blurbs give of this book Beneath the hilarious absurdity of things like business corporations annually purchasing the names of the year which is a brilliant gag by the way there is a massive foundation of stark realism and humanism perched stoically beneath and it s all just slightly artfully tweaked in ways that makes you wonder how this or that instance of absurdity is really much different from the absurdity faced in your slice of the non fictional world that you inhabit I ll go ahead and just state it plainly referring to our units of measurement like our neat bundles of 365 days as things like Year of the Adult Depends Undergarment or Year of the Trial Sized Dove Bar is less insane than the very real concept of corporate personhoodAs far as self referentiality and the use of metafictional techniues are concerned I simply see none of it Nowhere are we cleverly reminded that we re reading a book at least not explicitly Nowhere is that little wink and nudge of This is a bookI am an author writing a book ever inserted into the prose This was something Wallace very consciously avoided along with a species of irony that he s referred to as being representative of the song of a bird who s come to love its cage I ve discussed this with Bram before and he makes some mention of DFW s self consciousness seeping through the pages of Infinite Jest in his wonderful if slightly less religiously devoted review Bram s point seems to be so that Wallace s voice throughout the novel is very much his voice the same type of charge gets launched at DeLillo as I briefly covered elsewhere This is indisputable The thing is this it doesn t bother me in the least because as Bram writes on the subject of DFW s voice Whatever his reason for writing this way it works because this voice is such a joy to read Amen brother Bram Indeed I found it to be such a joy that I didn t even notice this fact about the prose style in either my first or second reading I don t mind that the thoughts of a physically deformed and mentally challenged teenager are narrated with the same voice as the thoughts of a clinically depressed thirtysomething woman or a wheelchair bound u b coise assassin or the prettiest veiled girl of all time or an alcoholic experimental filmmaker and his childhood self et cetera The book is written from a completely third person perspective too This is an important fact to note Had Wallace tried to cram his voice into first person perspectives of the characters it would ve been an unpublishable disaster But he didn t it wasn t so let s get over it and just come to grips with what it means to write from the third person perspective In sum this book is proof positive by my lights that characters don t have to take on wildly different tones of voice and manners of thought and speech in order to be rendered deeply sympathetic and compelling For most of the book the prose is so pitch perfect and the on page action so arresting that I simply didn t make a note of this just now mentioned technical stuff about perspective tonal shifts and so on There are some relative lulls like some of the extended descriptions of tennis matches but on the vastly larger slice of the pie chart the book remains extremely entertaining thought provoking tear duct lubing belly tickling soul massaging etc The scenes at Ennett Recovery House and the AA meetings are flawless and much of it struck me uite strongly as being amazingly insightful and emotionally jarring Upon my second reading of the novel I discovered where the cover image of the sky might possibly have come from You are at a fork in the road that Boston AA calls your Bottom though the term is misleading because everybody here agrees it s like someplace very high and unsupported you re on the edge of something tall and leaning way out forward p 347Everything involving the Incandenza family is superb Same with Joelle Van Dyne aka Madame Psychosis aka PGOAT Prettiest Girl of All Time Same with Gately Same with the entire conceptual metaphorical apparatus behind the notorious film mostly known as The Entertainment officially titled Infinite Jest as well as the actual socio political entanglements that surround it Same with the brilliant conversational back n forths between Marathe and Steeply where some of the greatest insights into the three major themes of the novel occur Same with Wallace s sheer talent with language including the coining of highly memorable terms and idioms There are now two phrases I use around fellow fans of this book when the moment is appropriate the howling fantods in reference to feelings of extreme nervousness and high strung emotional strain and to eliminate one s map in reference to suicide I could gush on and on and on and onThis all just makes me want to settle into Round Three right this very second and read it all over again and I just might Infinite Jest has the uality of slowly unfurling in your memory which makes sense considering the sheer length the descriptive depth and the broad spectrum of content Each re exposed detail symbiotically attaches itself into the larger self organizing cumulative memory of how fucking amazing the book was and indeed still is When I met the tome s final sentence and finished it off I was left with an amazing set of feelings that s very difficult to describe satisfactorily Basically I felt a deep abiding sadness at the fact that it was now finished I found myself somewhat frantically flipping between the final page and the Notes Errata section irrationally seeking words I may as well have been tearing the room apart looking for meth money I felt a physiological craving confined and radiating within I wanted More entertainment More communion More redemption More identification And then as I sat stunned and staring at the final paragraph it hit me David Foster Wallace wanted the reader to feel this way55 On some level all writers and artists and anyone trying to sell anything ideas feelings books etc to other people all want those people to keep coming back for but there was than that standard set of intentions going on in Infinite Jest He was trying to show people something about themselves namely that sad funny and strange spectacle of continually seeking pleasure and reliefHe wanted the reader to acknowledge Craving He turned the mirror of the Ennett House upon the reader and captured their reflection and left them with things to think deeply about outside of the book My eyes widened and my jaw literally dropped open and the word Genius popped into my head scattering the cognitive noise and bringing me one brief moment of Thoughtless Bliss


A gargantuan mind altering tragi comedy about the Pursuit of Happiness in America Set in an addicts' halfway house and a tennis academy and featuring the most endearingly screwed up family to come along in recent fiction Infinite Jest explores essential uestions. USHER Goodreads court is now in session the Honourable Judge Chandler presiding All riseJUDGE Mr Wise you appear before the court today on the charge of failing to adore Infinite Jest an act in gross and flagrant violation of basic Goodreads standards of decency How do you pleadWARWICK WellI mean presumably this kind of thing is all subjective opinion so PROSECUTOR Let the record show that the defendant utterly fails to deny his foul sinWARWICK Hang on JUDGE So noted If found guilty the maximum sentence I can hand down isDEATHGOODREADS MEMBERS from gallery Hooray Kill him Burn the hereticWARWICK Whoa wait a minute there don t you have to assign me some kind of lawyer or something so I can defend myself Like in Perry MasonPROSECUTOR Your honour in view of the gravity of his crimes we believe the defendant should be compelled to represent himselfJUDGE I agree Do you have any evidence to present in your defence wormWARWICK I m glad you asked m lud and thank you for showing such admirable neutrality VOICES FROM CROWD Get on with it scumWARWICK All right Well to be completely honest my heart began to sink from the very first page This was my first exposure to Wallace s fiction so I was paying uite close attention to the opening paragraphs to try and soak up this style that so many people have fallen in love with Defence Exhibit A the openingI am seated in an office surrounded by heads and bodies My posture is consciously congruent to the shape of my hard chair My fingers are mated into a mirrored series of what manifests to me as the letter XWARWICK I submit I was justified in feeling immediate concern that the prose is awkward unlovely and try hard with outbreaks of horrendous juvenile alliterationPROSECUTOR Objection The opening section is clearly narrated by a precocious child genius making the tone entirely appropriateJUDGE SustainedWARWICK That s true And I was definitely willing to go along with that The problem is that as the book goes on you start to realise that basically all his narrators sound pretty much the same they re all variants on the same depressive overeducated outsider speaking in these jagged straining uncomfortable sentences On the few occasions when he attempts social dialects beyond his own including a few passages of extremely ill advised collouial Ebonics it sounds like a grotesue parody than any serious attempt at a socially inclusive writing style Besides is it really an excuse for a writer to say My characters all happen to talk like malfunctioning robots so you re just going to have to put up with it PROSECUTOR Overeducated Really That may apply to the Incandenza family but it s hardly something you could accuse the residents of Ennet House Drug and Alcohol Recovery Center of Isn t it in fact the case that Wallace s daring new amalgam of contemporary patois and technical jargon simply went over your headWARWICK Objection Beyond the scopeJUDGE How is that beyond the scopeWARWICK I don t know it s just one of those things they always say on The Good WifeJUDGE Overruled Answer the uestionWARWICK All right I don t think it s going over my head no The writing style is certainly innovative but mainly in the sense that he sounds stilted and infelicitous in ways that no one has come up with before His pile ups of noun phrases are particularly awkward the nouns plurals genitives apostrophes so aggressively correct that they actually manage to look wrong I hate the sloppy attempt in general to use exaggerated collouialisms as a deliberate style this habit he has of rambling vaguely around a topic for several paragraphs in the hope that one of his phrases will hit home I like writers who craft and refine their thoughts before typing them out not during Overall I just felt there was a horrible uncertainty of tone the narrative voice channel hopping compulsively from slangy to highly mannered to jargonistic often within the same sentence It doesn t cohere but to the point it doesn t feel like DFW is in any controlPROSECUTOR Does it not occur to you that this might be done for deliberate effect Or were you perhaps just put off by all the long words laughter from the juryWARWICK WellI m reasonably sure it s not that I love complicated books with gigantic exuberant vocabularies It s just that here because of the general sense of bloated free fall it all just seems so purposeless so gratuitous To me he comes across less as an artist with a fat vocabulary than a hack with a fat thesaurus Woman in gallery faintsMAN IN GALLERY You monsterWARWICK Defence Exhibit B m lud a description of a character s smile which is said to be empty of all affect as if someone had contracted her circumorals with a thigmotactic electrodePROSECUTOR Of course one of those smiles I can picture it perfectlyWARWICK You bloody can t It s complete bollocks Circumoral isn t even a noun is it And a lot of the time this kind of thing is stretched into full paragraphs have a look at this single sentence Exhibit C which is in no way unrepresentativeAnd as InterLace s eventual outright purchase of the Networks production talent and facilities of two major home computer conglomerates of the cutting edge Foxx 2100 CD ROM licenses of Aapps Inc of RCA s DSS orbiters and hardware patents and of the digital compatible patents to the still needing to come down in price a little technology of HDTV s visually enhanced color monitor with microprocessed circuitry and 2 area lines of optical resolution as these acuisitions allowed Noreen Lace Forch s cartridge dissemination network to achieve vertical integration and economies of scale viewers pulse reception and cartridge fees went down markedly and then the further increased revenues from conseuent increases in order and rental volume were plowed presciently back into fiber optic InterGrid cable laying into outright purchase of three of the five Baby Bells InterNet d started with into extremely attractive rebate offers on special new InterLace designed RISC grade High Def screen PCs with mimetic resolution cartridge view motherboards recognizably renamed by Veals s boys in Recognition Teleputers or TPs into fiber only modems and of course into exrtemely high uality entertainments that viewers would freely desire to choose even WARWICK This passage also contains three endnotes which I will not go into for the sake of all our sanity And don t even get me started on Wallace s Latin which he persistently misunderstands One footnote reads v note 304 sub which is borderline illiterate v is used after the thing you want to reference and sub is a preposition not an adverb What he apparently means is Cf note 304 infra I couldn t normally care less about this sort of thing except that in this book it coexists with a laboured subplot about militant prescriptive grammarians for whom DFW clearly has much misguided sympathyPROSECUTOR Your honour surely it s now clear that the defendant is trying to build a case based on trivial inconseuentialities of personal styleWARWICK I know it seems like nit picking but the thing is these little mis steps here and there all contribute to a general sense that you are not in safe hands It s like his proliferation of initialisms why are ETA and AFR and USA written with dots but MDMA and WETA and AA without them There s no answer except general inconsistency which fans will no doubt tell me is intentional but which is no less annoying for that The same goes for Wallace s pseudo encyclopaedic knowledge base Hal Incandenza is supposed to be an etymology expert who grew up memorising the OED But every time we see this put into practice it s hopelessly wrong Eg There are by the OED VI s count nineteen nonarchaic synonyms for unresponsive which makes no sense because OED 3 won t be completed for another 25 years or so so there s no chance of getting to VI by the near future of the novel s setting and anyway the OED doesn t even list synonyms because it s a dictionary not a thesaurus He traces the word anonymous back to Greek but the Greek is horribly misspelled he traces acceptance back to 14th century langue d oc French but this phrase is both oxymoronic and flat out wrong Where is the research here All through the book there is a profound feeling that David Foster Wallace did not really understand the things he was looking up in order to seem cleverPROSECUTOR Need we remind you that this is a work of fiction and not an academic thesisWARWICK Again it s about confidence in your author Mine uickly evaporated I m concentrating on language stuff only because it s an area where I have an admittedly very dilettantish but somewhat active interest People who know about these things than me tell me his maths is eually dodgy Now contrast all this with a writer like Nabokov or Pynchon to whom Wallace is sometimes cavalierly compared When I read Pynchon I can spend hours chasing up throwaway references to some obscure language some astronomical phenomenon a paragraph of Argentine politics or an obsolete scientific theory it s part of the fun of these big encyclopedic books that you can research all the related knowledge that lies just outside the margins The references hold up and they enrich the reading experience When I try and do the same thing with DFW I always seem to come away with the conviction that he doesn t really know what he s talking aboutPROSECUTOR with heavy sarcasm How unfortunate that so many people overlooked this and mistakenly found his writing moving and powerfulWARWICK Oh come on don t be like that I am delighted that some people love his style it s just not for me I totally admit that this is personal preference I personally like writers who craft beautiful sentences In my opinion Wallace is just not very good at the level of the sentence or even of the paragraph But he can be great over longer distances at the level of the chapter or long passage There are several extended seuences of Infinite Jest that have a kind of cumulative power and excitement to them that I admired very much indeed They were just padded out with far too many passages of inexcusable tediumVOICES FROM CROWD Boo Hanging s too good for himJUDGE banging gavel Order Order to the prosecution Cross examinationPROSECUTOR Extremely cross your honourJUDGE No I mean do you want to cross examine the witnessPROSECUTOR Oh Yes Or rather consulting papers prosecution chooses to call a new witness your honour the defendant s wifeWARWICK What You can t Enter HANNAH looking emotionalPROSECUTOR You are the defendant s wife are you notHANNAH biting lip I amPROSECUTOR And isn t it the case ma am that on than one occasion over the past few weeks you witnessed the defendant audibly chuckling over what he was readingHANNAH II might have donePROSECUTOR Moreover on several occasions did you not see him underlining passages he thought particularly admirableHANNAH fighting back emotion Iyes Yes I didPROSECUTOR And is it not true that those passages included but were not limited to the description of Poor Tony Krause having a seizure the fight outside Ennet House and Don Gately s fever dream seuencesHANNAH bursting into tears It s true He said one of them was thethe best thing he d read all year He recited bits of it out to me in bed and everythingPROSECUTOR And can you see the man who said these things anywhere in this courtroomHANNAH pointing at defendant There That s him That s the man GaarghPROSECUTOR No further uestions your honour HANNAH is led out in tearsWARWICK I what This is ridiculous ObjectionJUDGE What is the nature of your objectionWARWICK The nature of it Umwhat s that one about badgers again PauseJUDGE Badgering the witnessWARWICK That s it He was badgering her She just got totally badgeredJUDGE OverruledWARWICK Look this is an eleven hundred page book If a monkey throws a thousand darts at a dartboard he s going to score a couple of bullseyes He s also probably going to hit you in the eye a few times And in the context of this metaphor a monkey inflicted dart wound to the face can be taken as the euivalent of say an unforgivably tedious description of a geopolitical tennis gamePROSECUTOR The point remains however that you found yourself moved by parts of this book didn t you Affected by the characters storyWARWICK Sure Some characters worked better than others I thought Don Gately in particular was a wonderful creation and I only wish he d been in a tighter and better controlled novelPROSECUTOR You were moved gripped excited even aroused at timesWARWICK Well I wouldn t go that farPROSECUTOR Oh really Isn t it the case that on one occasion last week you found your mind in an idle moment of alone time returning to a certain cheerleader based episode of mass knickerlessnessWARWICK leaping out of seat Ob jection your honour Surely this line of uestioning can t be appropriateJUDGE Ohgo on then sustained I really don t want to hear about it Sighs of relief from public galleryWARWICK Although thinking about it the uery does serve to highlight a certain strain of misogyny that bothered me about the book where the narrator gives Avril Incandenza extra value by repeatedly telling us that she is particularly gorgeous for a woman her age while the nearest thing we have to a female lead is known as PGOAT sorry PGOAT the Prettiest Girl Of All Time and is also defined by her physical attractiveness or the possible marring thereofPROSECUTOR rolling his eyes at jury Oh that s right play the sexism card now And I suppose you were eually unmoved by the gripping descriptions of social deprivation an insight into a world that doubtless a middle class bourgeois reader like you couldn t hope to evaluateWARWICK First of all you should probably be careful what you assume about my background Second of all yes some of it worked really well But again there is a lack of authorial control A lot of the violence and stories of drugged out atrocities start off being genuinely disturbing but end up going so far that they take on a Grand Guignol aspect and become too ludicrous to take seriously When one woman at an addiction meeting mentions her father s late night visits to the bedroom of her severely disabled sister it s very creepy and upsetting But Wallace can t stop himself going on to give us three full unnecessary pages of detailed incestuous diddling his phrase which turns the whole thing from disturbing into cartoonish and sillyPROSECUTOR So there s something silly about sexual abuse is thereWARWICK I ll ignore that Look I agree that there were parts of this book that I enjoyed very much of course there were But I would draw your attention to the fact that during these moments of narrative brilliance the footnotes and speech tics and other po mo devices suddenly dry up he doesn t need them This leads me to conclude that they really serve no purpose except to distract from the turgid flabbiness of other sections of the novel Whose plot by the way goes absolutely nowhere nothing is resolved and no uestions are answeredPROSECUTOR Again we would argue that this is deliberate your honour forcing the reader back to the text so that the book itself becomes an infinite form of Entertainment like the one it describesWARWICK Oh come on This argument stretches generosity to the author beyond the bounds of credibilityPROSECUTOR And yet somehow reviewers who are actually paid to review books unlike you have described this novel as profound and a masterpiece and brilliant and witty refer to prosecution exhibits A through WWARWICK Let s not forget the London Review of Books review Defence Exhibit D and I uoteIt is in a word terrible I would in fact go so far as to say that Infinite Jest is one of the very few novels for which the phrase not worth the paper it s written on has real meaning in at least an ecological sense Shouts of anger from public galleryJUDGE You disgust me Are we ready for sentencingWARWICK Wait Wait I have one witness to callJUDGE Very well WhoWARWICK I call dramatic pause David Foster Wallace For reasons of space the trial concludes here

10 thoughts on “Infinite Jest

  1. says:

    USHER Goodreads court is now in session the Honourable Judge Chandler presiding All riseJUDGE Mr Wise you appear before the court today on the charge of failing to adore Infinite Jest an act in gross and flagrant violation of basic Goodreads s

  2. says:

    this booki think it is time to write a proper review for this book as it is one of my all time favorites and deserves way than two words back when i was a junior in college i was at the nyu bookstore trying to sell back some textbooks before going away for winter break the person in line in front of me was trying to sell

  3. says:

    It's my habit to write on the inside sleeve of a book the words from the text that I can't define or don't understand Here is the resulting list from the back inside sleeve of Infinite Jestapocopesbolectionsregletsdipsomaniauincunxvaricocelessimpaticoaleatoryexperialistagnatepedalferrousfulvouslouveredsangfroidgibbonsapercueideticmuratedtumescentrecidivismerumpentrutilanthalepurlednacellesulcusimprecatedtumbrelcomportmentscopopho

  4. says:

    While I don't actually have A Favorite Book or Song or Album or Band or Film or Painting or Sexual Position or any other category of things that contain than one eually great contender Infinite Jest is the first book that immediately comes to mind when the idea of My Favorite Book arisesAs I've already alluded to and pa

  5. says:

    Admittedly Infinite Jest is a tough book You start the book having no clue when it is happening and who the various characters are There is stuff that happens in the opening pages that explains events at the end of the book albeit over 1000 pages and hundreds of footnotes away I'd say it is uite elliptical That being said it is an amazing piece of literature I forced myself through the first 300 and then 400 pages and at about 500

  6. says:

    Anybody who completes THE Infinite Jest automatically receives a medal Really Just read every single fuh cking word from beginning til the end you get an award that's what THIS IS basically A badge of honor Bragging rights A Privilege The experience which is so much like ogling the Mona Lisa live at the Louvre for the first time you can already envision her in your mind you know what it is even before you get to stand before it The literary

  7. says:

    I've been waiting panther like for the right combination of caffeine and personal gumption to strike to attack w

  8. says:

    Know what they say about novels such as Infinite Jest Don’t seek Perfection or Pleasure but rather seek the Infinite PossibilitiesI have a lot to say about this book but before that there’s a little I don’t want to say about it Here it is☽This book is never ending☽It bored me at times too☽Some of the end notes were annoying☽I r

  9. says:

    Around halfway through endnote 90 which itself is 4 pages long Don Gately says It makes me feel good you think I'm decent to talk to That's supposed to be why I'm here I sure needed to talk at the start Can you remember where you we

  10. says:

    DJ Ian's Sunday Evening Tell Me What You Really ThinkYou're listening to Radio KCRCR Tell Me What You Really Think where we listen to the critics and you talk back That's if there's any time left after I finish my rant HeheA lot of listeners ask me about my namesake What about that other Ian Graye you say The one on GoodReads What do you think of him? And what did you think of his recent review of David Foster Wallace's magnum opu

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