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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 standards of decency How do you plead?WARWICK 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 Mason?PROSECUTOR 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 worm?WARWICK 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 head?WARWICK Objection Beyond the scopeJUDGE How is that beyond the scope?WARWICK 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 Forché’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 thesis?WARWICK 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 examination?PROSECUTOR 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 not?HANNAH 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 reading?HANNAH II might have donePROSECUTOR Moreover on several occasions did you not see him underlining passages he thought particularly admirable?HANNAH 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 seuences?HANNAH 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 courtroom?HANNAH 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 objection?WARWICK The nature of it? Umwhat’s that one about badgers again? PauseJUDGE Badgering the witness?WARWICK 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’ story?WARWICK 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 knickerlessness?WARWICK 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 evaluate?WARWICK 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 there?WARWICK 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 sentencing?WARWICK Wait Wait I have one witness to callJUDGE Very well Who?WARWICK I call dramatic pause David Foster Wallace For reasons of space the trial concludes here


  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 back infinite jest where was i when this class was being offered?? and of course they weren't taking it back because nyu is a stingy fucking school she turned around to me and said you want this?? and i said yescuz i don't say no to free and she said merry christmasand kinda just thrust it at me and it was the best present i ever got a true christmas miracle i was on my way to see my then boyfriend in italy for the start of a european jaunt and i missed out on a lot of european cities because i could not put this book down i read it on planes and trains and a gondola in restaurants and bars by canals and in a cafe on top of the alps fuck cathedrals i had this book i am a truly bad traveler but i am a committed reader as soon as i finished the book i started right over and since then i have read it a total of seven times it is the most glorious collection of words that has ever been published it is everything it is funny and sad and creepy and disturbing and completely absorbing and brilliant and he was just a gem of a man the first time i got to meet him i dropped this book in front of him by now all tattered and smooshed and he seem surprised that someone has actually read their copy and then i gave him a card that had been a thank you card but i crossed out thank and wrote fuck in its place and said fuck you for writing the great american novel before i got the chance to this is the kind of thing i think is charming because i am deeply flawed but it worked and he called me and it was really nice he was a great man who was truly kind and courteous to his fans i ended up getting a proper thank you card from him because he is traditionally charming and now i am sad just thinking about this so the review ends here because it has served its cathartic purpose for me and i guess if anyone is reading this you just got a free glimpse into the softer side of karen it happenscome to my blog


  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 Jestapocopesbolectionsregletsdipsomaniauincunxvaricocelessimpaticoaleatoryexperialistagnatepedalferrousfulvouslouveredsangfroidgibbonsapercueideticmuratedtumescentrecidivismerumpentrutilanthalepurlednacellesulcusimprecatedtumbrelcomportmentscopophobicasperityrapaciousafflatusbatheticbrachiformstrabismicascaparticavuncularaditfactotachuffingneuralgiactumideustacianxerophagygynecopiasuborningsolecisticlissomeascaparticanapesticbradyauxeticlordosiscorticatemucronatecodicillumenacreouspuerilethanatopticspansuleshaspprognathousnonuremicapothegmapicalsselvagedcaparisoncunctationsaphasiacetiologyprolixchymeamanuenticfalcatejejunecatastaticeschatologydeclivitymaffickingcuirassvigmiasmacorditecirrhoticreveilletektiticcrepuscularthrenodyemerymysticetouslyanechoicanorakerumpent again apparently I didn't remember it from the first timeaphasiacreseaudiverticulitiscathexisskirlingdunexaculatesaphasiaanodizedpicayunecaprolaliacverdigrisedcoruscantanacliticcatexicsybariticallyrestenoticmalentenduperipateticlordoticrictalthanatopicolla podidainguinalsudoriferousswartemeticparotiticalacritysinciputkyphoticciuatoxicI didn't realize until later in the book that DFW often makes up words I will post a full review at my blog meekadjustmentsblogspotcom


  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 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 book?I 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 like?There'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 uébécoise 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


  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 pages I finally hit my stride and was able to follow through to 1071 yes this was the British printing not the American one I loved the characters and the high comedy that is here as well as all the wacky situations in the drug rehab centre and the tennis academy The president reminded me a lot of the current American regime I could almost see the Statue of Liberty carrying a Trump Tower logo across her forehead or maybe a Chick Fil A sign and the text was occasionally of incredible beauty and insightTake this passage from the MaratheSteeply dialog“Someone who had authority or should have had authority and did not exercise authority I do not know But someone sometime let you forget how to choose and whatSomeone let your peoples forget it was the only thing of importance choosing So completely forgetting that when I say choose to you you make expressions with your face such as “Herrrrrre we are going” Someone taught that temples are for fanatics only and took away the temples and promised there was no need for temples And now there is no shelter And no map for finding the shelter of a temple And you all stumble about in the dark this confusion of permissions”This is such a perceptive description of why Drumpf was elected A vast swath of Americans are driven by short attention soans knee jerk reactionism based on their inability to choose and their reliance of alternative facts President J Gentle is eerily similar to Drumpf the coming destruction of Standing Rock by the pipeline from which Drumpf himself oh sorry his son will profit how is that different from the Concavity? DFW's book can be read as much of a warning againsy Drumpf as Roth's The Plot Against America or Lewis' It Can't Happen Here And I digressAn important book for the 21st C And oh so relevantI talked for a few hours to fellow Goodreads reading addict Nocturnalux and tried to get her convinced that this should be on her reading list It remains for me a landmark work reuiring infinite patience to get the reveal of the infinite joke at the end


  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 euivalent of chasing the magic dragon Just keeping at something this being a very complex and cranial novel like some zombie to get you absolutely nowhere This is like a insufferable Beckett in that at least Beckett's implaus o ramas have an ending But here get ready to get nowhere Nowhere not fast but slowwwly Moments of Eureka I've found something concrete at last Finally a location upon which to hang it's all very brief ha and ethereal to grasp Like some interesting but fleeting aroma The main driving force for the reader is to traverse the plot like some intrepid trekker here that motivation is eradicated what we are left with is one fat big juicy ?The premise? That we live in a systematic place where components are controlled by family substances life The back and forth between the school and the rehab embody a game of tennis emblematic system used to symbolize coming of age as well as the myriad needlepoint philosophies that go with it No patterns arise Yet the reader has always his wants That you don't matter in the enterprise is what ultimately spoils this experience for me The writer has very consciously tried to build a sturdy monolithic castle from individual grains of dry sand An impossible endeavor but it must be witnessed The things that stick out are the sordid details the head in the microwave the shot in the face; the molestation of little boys of invalids; a hanging fetusIf you say IJ is the future of the novel you definitely haven't read 1936's Gone with the Wind Almost a full century old that tome really justifies its girth like Lonesome Dove The Stand do like Don uixote Les Miserables eons ago I understand the allure of this really I do but HOW MANY DIFFERENT WAYS CAN YOU SAY THE EXACT SAME THING? Definitely not in 1088 pages But maybe eighty eightBottom line this novel really gave me a serious case of the howling fantods


  7. says:

    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


  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 read many other books when I was supposed to read this book☽Whenever somebody asked me what IJ was all about I was unable to come up with a clear cut answer☽I skipped few lines here and there☽I think those who haven’t read this book or won’t read it would have or less incomplete existence as a reader☽I think those who have read the whole book and still think it’s no good arewelljust normal I guess☽No reason is good enough for not reading this book☽In spite of best of my efforts my mind diverted to DFW’s suicide☽I had thoughts of trying marijuana it’s not really a big deal in India☽After reading few reviews here I got panic attacks due to their awesomeness☽This review went out of hand and got a ‘bit’ long so oops☽I don’t want to say cheesy lines like If IJ was a country I’d applied for a permanent residency; or If IJ was a drug I’d get high forever; or If IJ was a guy I’d marry him; or I’m already missing reading it☽I laughed when I said to myself after finishing it “let me get my thoughts in order”☽The good news is you can read IJ again and again The bad news is you Have to read it againHere’s what I want to sayAn Unexamined LifeEM Forster said “One always tends to overpraise a long book because one has got through it”Though I’m sure he didn’t have a book like IJ in mind but I agree with him to some extent Reading a long book means devoting a substantial time of your life a time which you value and there’s no way one would like to declare that hesheit spent that time on something unworthy But when the book is Infinite Jest then it deserves every iota of praise bestowed upon it Its reading experience is something like the author takes your hand makes you sit in front of a mirror and whisper in your ear “now see the magic” and lo you’re sucked in by the mirror and the next moment you find yourself in a strange yet surprisingly familiar land and slowly the images the scenery the words starts unfolding themselves and you need to look out at each direction else you’ll be lost You need to examine a life which was left unexamined for a long time Day of finishing Infinite JestJan 25 2013 at around 2200hrs I finished reading this book closed it and put it aside I stared at it for a while then logged on to goodreads gave it 5 stars put it under my favorites shelf and asked myself “Well what was that all about?” There was no answer in response but just an echo of words to write something that stabs you in the heart That pierces you makes you think you're going to dieDay of starting reading Infinite jest There was a sudden knock on the door I woke up with a start and reluctantly went to open the door An adolescent boy promptly asked Do you want to get entertained? Huh what the ? I slammed the door shut and went back to sleep Few hours passed but again my sleep broke on hearing some loud cheering I went out and much to my surprise there was a whole tennis court in front of me and two players were busy playing There was a group of boys snorting coke sitting round the corner and on the opposite stands some kind of class was going on I recognized that it was Arthur Ashe stadium but couldn’t place the players I looked at the score board Wal and Fed Wal was apparently leading with 6 3 7 6 5 3 Somebody tapped on my shoulder He was the same boy This time he handed me a book I took it and immediately lost my balance The alarm of my cell phone went off at that precise moment and welcomed me back to reality Once the feeling of vertigo subsided I checked the date December 1 2012 I said to myself Of courseThe days in betweenOver the period of almost two months I read IJ every day Having read Girl with curious hair and A supposedly fun thing I'll never do again I experienced both fiction and non fiction writing by Wallace and loved it It proved to be a boon because if nothing else the disjointed stories in IJ were something like short stories from Girl although a lot developed and maturely handled and the long ramblings on different topics reminded me of essays in a Supposedly funso Yes Reading Wallace’s other works before attempting this book did help a lot than I expected There was something that made him work for me which not only provided enjoyment but became a great source of knowledge and it won't be an exaggeration to say that I have found a book that shall remain with me both physically and emotionally throughout this modest and unexciting life of mine Infinite Jest is not a work of a genius It’s the work of someone who was all set to change the definition of word genius as we know it He created a world that was consistently dark desolate and most of the times demented but also witty ingenious and oh so funny This magnum opus is incredibly challenging but at the same time surprisingly accessible It won’t let the reader sit back relax and enjoy it It’s no beach read but want its readers to sit up and take notice about what is going on You can’t afford to lose focus and track but the probability is that you’ll lose both anyway It’s that kind of book a literary euivalent of mobiusism a never ending uest a once in a lifetime experience By expressing all this I’m in no way glorifying its completion by me but simply stating the facts It’s not possible to overestimate this book Wallace took the most wretched situations and characters and created such amazing backdrops that in spite of everything so seemingly hopeless he would still be able to present you with a glimpse of hope In face of lot of desperate moves he would teach you a lesson or two in patience With so many impossibilities going on one after the other he would tell what all is possible if one try to do just one thing Realize His prose is exuberant with less scope of comfort He won’t surround you with the sea of beautiful flowing writing to make you feel that he has stated something profound but rather something relentless and contemporary that you’re in a position to relate in both subjective and objective way no matter how insane that way is You’ll lose count of neologism solecism collouialism malapropism and many other –isms DFW employed within IJ which not only proves fascinating but gives you an idea about the extent to which he allowed himself to experiment in order to say whatever he wanted to and you’ll see how effortless it all looks as if DFW was telling something that’s always been there and getting our attention by a simple psst look here expression Dave Eggers in his wonderful foreword rightly stated A Wallace reader gets the impression of being in a room with a very talkative and brilliant uncle or cousin who just when he’s about to push it too far to try our patience with too much detail has the good sense to throw in a good low brow jokeHe has employed an allegorical structure to this novel and develops it to an extraordinary proportion taking cues from many of his influences namely Joyce Pynchon Shakespeare and Dante to name a fewI don’t want to indulge much into plots but just a brief and my practice in brevity if I’m allowed IJ primarily takes place in futuristic USA circa 2009 10 in Boston city The setting for majority of the narration is based at Enfield Tennis Academy ETA and Ennet House a drug and alcohol recovery house where majority of the interesting characters reside situating nearby ETA ETA was founded by James O Incandenza an avant garde film maker whose wife Avril Incandenza heads the academy with their 2 sons Mario and Hal being the current attendees of the ETA while their eldest brother Orin being a previous attendee now a punter in the NFL Orin is a jerk Mario is great and Hal is lonely Avril is beautiful very tall and delusional about her kids; James was taller committed suicide and knew his kids just too well He created a film known as The Entertainment titled Infinite Jest which rud to have ’ualities’ such that whoever saw it wanted nothing else ever in life but to see it again then again and so on rendering its audience fatally addicted to it The uest of finding the master copy of this entertainment marks the entry of a group of uebecois separatists in the book known as Les Assassins des Fauteuils Rollents aka Wheelchair Assassins or simply AFR who wants to obtain a copy which they called Samizdat because of its lethal ualities that would make them dangerously powerful to meet their extremist goals This group gave me creeps The book is mostly covered with Wallace commentary about drug addiction through myriad eccentric and bizarre characters at the Ennet House Wallace presents the intake of drugs its effects and substance withdrawal ie cold turkey in such merciless detail that one can’t help to actually empathize with those involved in substance abuse Apart from drugs there’s some wonderful description about depression clinical depression to be precise Here’s one of my favorite passage which I’ve tagged as spoiler view spoiler The so called 'psychotically depressed' person who tries to kill herself doesn't do so out of uote 'hopelessness' or any abstract conviction that life's assets and debits do not suare And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing The person in whom Its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high rise Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; ie the fear of falling remains a constant The variable here is the other terror the fire's flames when the flames get close enough falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors It's not desiring the fall; it's terror of the flames And yet nobody down on the sidewalk looking up and yelling 'Don't' and 'Hang on' can understand the jump Not really You'd have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling hide spoiler


  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 were headed before I broke i— interrupted? 1001This is arguably what passes for a joke in Infinite Jest See Gately is a reformed thief who used to burglarize houses to support his drug habit So when he starts to say before I broke in he catches himself and corrects it to interruptedThis uote unuote joke I did not catch until my fifth reading of the monster that is Infinite JestIt's the kind of thing that could well polarize your readers5 stars out of 5 I'll talk your ear off about this one if given half a chanceMY FIRST REVIEW JANUARY 2016view spoilerThere are books and then there are BOOKSOnce I told a friend that my mom's favorite book was Atlas Shrugged and my friend said she was just trying to impress me with page count Some might feel the same about Infinite Jest which boasts 1079 pages 981 of prose and the remaining 98 all footnotes It's experimental it's self aware and it's complex Or it's not complex so much as detailed Overdetailed Hyperdetailed But it's also apologetic like the author knows he's got something really important to say and he's just so terribly sorry to bother you with it in this way Maybe knowing that the writer later killed himself colors my opinion but the whole book is infused with gravitas There are scenes full of energy and others that are boring in their normalcy yet it's all described in baroue intricacy that makes the mundane seem powerfully importantInfinite Jest is the story of Hal Incandenza a teenage tennis prodigy from an affluent Massachusetts family who briefly visits an addicts' halfway house It's also the story of Don Gately a reformed thief who finds an unpleasant but effective recovery through the same house's 12 step programs and becomes a hero in the process It's also also the story of a secret short film so addictively entertaining that anyone who watches it dies slowly wasting away as they freeze catatonic and unable to turn it off And it's also also also about all the context in between and around and behind all that like the recent war that forced all the North American countries to merge and the way Hal's father killed himself after filming the film in uestion and the Canadian wheelchair assassin suad seeking to find the master copy so they can weaponize itInfinite Jest reminds us of what words can do what books can be what serious literature as art looks like I admit I had to turn to the Internet early on to search for some clarification But even that foray into cyberspace felt right like the text was only enhanced as time moved us all ahead into a fully digital age It's all part of the experience and Infinite Jest is absolutely that an experience Anyone who has finished it seems to remember where they were when they did sometimes if only because of all the other things they weren't able to do because they spent so much time reading it My copy comes with an introduction by Dave Eggers who compares it to exercise and that's a very apt comparison Reading it is like flexing your brain muscles It's not uite like lifting weights but rather like posing in front of the mirror and thinking I look goodI admit also that I skimmed some sections I skimmed much of the minutiae of the tennis academy routines I skimmed the plodding Eschaton games I skimmed the goofy puppet show film and the political farce of how ONAN got set up These are worldbuilding scenes bloated out of control methodical and tiresome and pretty damn boring And the phone conversations between Hal and Orin? Please Nobody talks like thatOn the other hand I was riveted by the scenes in the addicts' house and at the Boston AA meetings And I was transfixed by the delightful passages with Lyle the locker room guru who maybe can hover and gives out sage advice to troubled teens at the tennis academy And I laughed out loud when I read about the feral hamsters breeding in the nuclear wastes among other things The prose could surely benefit from a trim a couple pages here or a dozen there to help speed the narrative along And those footnotes aren't particularly illuminating; I stopped checking them very early on and my understanding didn't suffer any Maybe this is all an artistic choice—if the book is truly about life in America and how we're all escapists trying to endlessly entertain ourselves to distract from the unpleasant thought of our inevitable death as the critical consensus appears to be then these long stretches of dull text must reflect a singular truth about living in reality there's plenty of parts of life itself we'd love to skip over right? But we can't We are bound to continue on forwards one minute at a timeSo in the end what to say? Is it perfect? Well no But it is dramatic and perception altering and significant The depictions of addiction and depression resonate deeply It is absolutely touching and Very Important But it's not easy and I don't know that it's very re readable even though a second reading is strongly encouraged as the ending loops right back around to the beginning a la Finnegan's Wake You could just keep reading through and starting over and jumping right back down the rabbit hole as it were which is very appropriate given the exploration of addiction and the symbolism of the mystery movie2 of 5 as a work of entertainment 5 of 5 as a work of art and thus 4 of 5 stars from me overall OK OK Amended six months later on 592016 I've thought about this book than any other I've read critiues of it and watched movies based on it and speculated upon it and legitimately thought If you want to 'get' me you've got to read 'Infinite Jest'It pops into my consciousness every couple of days or so and if that isn't what makes a 5 star book then I don't know what does 5 stars out of 5 It's something else hide spoiler


  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 opus?Well let me reassure you that other Ian Graye is a wanker Don’t trust his five star review of “Infinite Jest” “IJ” for short but not for longHe is a classic pseudo intellectual who occasionally comes under the sway of people like Nathan MJ and a few female Good Readers with brains andor ambition and tries unconvincingly to run with their small herd while simultaneously feigning the impression of reading appreciating and reviewing the big books that appeal to them He is a post capitalist lapdog of the tamest and most ineffectual kindThis is what he would say if he had the guts Actually it’s not what he would say it’s what I'm sayingHe can wallow in pretensionIJ is a dogs breakfast Nobody has actually read it from cover to cover Nobody has understood it on its own terms Anybody who reckons they’ve read it or understood it is lying and needs to be exposed for the fibbers they are The sooner there is something that is post postmodernism that we can get our hands and minds and kindles and iPatches on the better No wait it doesn’t matterPostmodernism was invented so that nerds could take money off other nerdsMeanwhile the rest of the world can eat drink snort smoke dance party and have sex regardless and in spite of the postmodernist nerdfest going down down down in the libraryLengthSurely it is enough to state the length of this book to condemn itIf an author has 1100 pages in them then write four novels of 275 pages eachCan Sting possibly be any better on the fourth day of his tantric sex than he is on the first?What is the point? To achieve a target for the Guinness Book of Records? For as soon as you break the record somebody else will want to beat you and your record will last for how long one year at most?RepetitionIn a book that long there must surely be a lot of repetition of themes and subject matter if not dialogue and actual wordsAs for a book whose ending simply takes you back to the beginning? That's not what I call recycling Recycling is the yellow bin Or wishful thinking for charities two copies sitting side by side in a second hand book storeSelf IndulgenceSee my comment about Sting Beyond that I risk being guilty of the post modern crime of repetition In fact I might already be guilty Damn How ironicIronyShow me somebody who really knows what irony means and I’ll show you a bullshit artistI mean what does “an incongruity between the literal and the implied meaning” mean?Is there any literal meaning that is not implied? Surely DFW meant everything his words impliedTherefore they are not incongruous they are deliberate and congruousThis is starting to sound like that other Ian Graye so I will stopPlayfulnessOK so they play tennis in this book So what?And so what if he plays with our minds? Writing this bloody book probably played with DFW’s own mind How can you control something as gargantuan and prolix as this?It plays with our minds because it played with his If he had won the game it would have been a shorter sharper better book and a pleasant experience for usThere is a reason tennis has a tie breaker IJ needed a tie breaker Around 300 pagesBlack HumorI like black humor white humor and Jewish humor I haven’t heard any other types yet But I hope I do eventuallyHowever I can’t remember any good jokes in IJ nor can I remember LOL’ingEven if I could remember one there’s no way I would ever tell a mate in a pub or print it on a t shirt which is my ultimate test of a good joke well an aphorism anywayIntertextualityI mean are you serious? Who would invent a word like “intertextuality” but a postmodernist wanker?Did the English language really need this word? Did it have to be imported from France or Italy or wherever?Intertextuality”the relationship between one text a novel for example and another or one text within the interwoven fabric of literary historyan indication of postmodernism’s lack of originality and reliance on clichés”Put two things next to each other juxtapose them as the other Ian Graye would say and you have a relationship a “juxtaposition” So what?If you want to refer to another book in your book it’s a uote if it’s acknowledged or plagiarism if it’s notSo what? Any graduate student can do this We used to call it cheatingAs for cliches we were taught to eschew them in my day DFW uses truckloads of cliches mostly old ones but many new ones of his own creation How pathetic There are nearly as many cliches in IJ as there are in Hamlet I mean To be or not to be if Shakespeare was half the writer he's supposed to be or not to be he would have steered clear of that old chestnutPasticheOnce again write your own bloody book Don’t copy somebody else’s Sampling is cheating If I want to read the other book or listen to the other song I’ll find it on iTunesMetafictionAnother word created by postmodernists for postmodernists It’s like a secret handshake A club for us and not for you Because you won’t let us into your club and your club is blockbuster best selling fiction with a home and a boat in the BahamasAnybody who can write should strive for a home and a boat better still a houseboat If you haven’t got it in you don’t waste trees or cyberspace Write a blog Do your pathetic little reviews on GoodReads Or pathetically long reviews in the case of my namesakeFabulationI mean honest we’re talking fiction here and some critic has to introduce a synonym and pretend it means something different A distinction without a difference A high distinction without a job prospect This is today’s academia for youPoioumenaThis word makes me want to vomitI mean I love Maoris and their language but words weren’t meant to consist of four consecutive vowels It's inconsonantHistoriographic MetafictionAnother one What aren’t the old words good enough for postmodernists? This would have been edited out of the wiki article if anybody knew what it meant or had the gutsInstead it’s left in and college students in my wake will struggle to apply it correctly in a sentence for another 20 yearsIf this term was a dog it would be put down In fact this term is a dog BangTemporal DistortionIt gets worse “Fragmentation and non linear narratives” In a word drugs Nobody used this language when the poison of choice was alcoholIn the old days the bell would ring and you’d say “Oh is that the time?” Not temporal distortionMagic RealismAll the best drugs come from South America Say no But put a frat boy in a broad brimmed hat and sit him on a horse and it doesn’t make him a gaucho or a magic realistTechnoculture and HyperrealityDoof doof I can’t remember one computer in IJ Unless you count microwaves and whatever they played the cartridges on And I mean who remembers cartridges?ParanoiaThe only source of paranoia for me in IJ is the sense that DFW might have known what he was talking about and I didn’t get it But if he did and I didn’t then I’ve read all the other IJ reviews on Good Reads and no two of them are the same so uit the bullshit and admit it nobody gets it It’s time we fessed up it can’t be got we weren’t supposed to get it DFW didn’t design it to be got leave it aloneIJ is a conspiracy by the paper manufacturing industry to consume paper put it inside a hard cover and never let it see the light of dayYes a paranoid conspiracy I know but guess what it workedMaximalismA big word for “long” MinimalismA big word for a little idea Incongruous if not ironic I knowEncyclopaedicYes IJ is long but credit where credit is due it contains a lot of words and meanings about a lot of things but let's face it nobody ever reads an encyclopaedia from beginning to end we all dip in one entry at a time if not randomly and we wouldn’t know shit about all the other bits that we didn’t readLet’s hope there's not a uestion about them in the examWell that's about it from me Let me leave you with one serious thoughtParty at my place Come onKCRCR Whatever will be will be And whatever will not be will not be That is the answer and there's the rub Thanks Bill Can I have my bottle back now please?Oh is that the time? Let's cross to Rupert for the newsCHOOSE YOUR REVIEW Infinite Jest elicits diverse reactions I thought I might try to express some of them both negative and positiveThe above review is my attempt at a negative reviewMy positive reviews are mentioned belowTAME AND INEFFECTUAL POST CAPITALIST LAPDOG FIVE STAR REVIEWThis is a positive capsule review with a few add ons ONLY PSEUDO INTELLECTUAL FIVE STAR REVIEWThis review is my attempt at a analytical but positive review TELL ME WHAT YOU REALLY THINK VOTE COUNT AUDITED BY CHARTERED ACCOUNTANTS NICE WATERCLOSETDJ IanFebruary 17 201341 likesPost Capitalist Lapdog ReviewFebruary 17 201338 likesNerd's Only Pseudo Intellectual ReviewFebruary 17 201327 likesDJ Ian's one star review jennifer garnered likes in 12 hours than either of the other five star reviews did in 10 months they were posted in April 2012


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Free read Å E-book, or Kindle E-pub ï David Foster Wallace

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 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 pages I finally hit my stride and was able to follow through to 1071 yes this was the British printing not the American one I loved the characters and the high comedy that is here as well as all the wacky situations in the drug rehab centre and the tennis academy The president reminded me a lot of the current American regime I could almost see the Statue of Liberty carrying a Trump Tower logo across her forehead or maybe a Chick Fil A sign and the text was occasionally of incredible beauty and insightTake this passage from the MaratheSteeply dialog“Someone who had authority or should have had authority and did not exercise authority I do not know But someone sometime let you forget how to choose and whatSomeone let your peoples forget it was the only thing of importance choosing So completely forgetting that when I say choose to you you make expressions with your face such as “Herrrrrre we are going” Someone taught that temples are for fanatics only and took away the temples and promised there was no need for temples And now there is no shelter And no map for finding the shelter of a temple And you all stumble about in the dark this confusion of permissions”This is such a perceptive description of why Drumpf was elected A vast swath of Americans are driven by short attention soans knee jerk reactionism based on their inability to choose and their reliance of alternative facts President J Gentle is eerily similar to Drumpf the coming destruction of Standing Rock by the pipeline from which Drumpf himself oh sorry his son will profit how is that different from the Concavity? DFW's book can be read as much of a warning againsy Drumpf as Roth's The Plot Against America or Lewis' It Can't Happen Here And I digressAn important book for the 21st C And oh so relevantI talked for a few hours to fellow Goodreads reading addict Nocturnalux and tried to get her convinced that this should be on her reading list It remains for me a landmark work reuiring infinite patience to get the reveal of the infinite joke at the end Reckless Karma (Sinners & Saints, people; and about what the A Girl Called Dog pleasures we choose say about who we are Eual Ashamed parts A Jealous Ghost philosophical uest and screwball 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 A Liverpool Lass pages that explains events at the end of the book albeit over 1000 Women and the National Experience pages and hundreds of footnotes away I'd say it is uite elliptical That being said it is an amazing An Unsuitable Duchess piece of literature I forced myself through the first 300 and then 400 Monsieur Proust pages and at about 500 Hummelhonung pages I finally hit my stride and was able to follow through to 1071 yes this was the British Old Yukon printing not the American one I loved the characters and the high comedy that is here as well as all the wacky situations in the drug rehab centre and the tennis academy The Making As in College president reminded me a lot of the current American regime I could almost see the Statue of Liberty carrying a Trump Tower logo across her forehead or maybe a Chick Fil A sign and the text was occasionally of incredible beauty and insightTake this Angel of Brooklyn passage from the MaratheSteeply dialog“Someone who had authority or should have had authority and did not exercise authority I do not know But someone sometime let you forget how to choose and whatSomeone let your Seve peoples forget it was the only thing of importance choosing So completely forgetting that when I say choose to you you make expressions with your face such as “Herrrrrre we are going” Someone taught that temples are for fanatics only and took away the temples and The Tower promised there was no need for temples And now there is no shelter And no map for finding the shelter of a temple And you all stumble about in the dark this confusion of Stuff permissions”This is such a Top Gear perceptive description of why Drumpf was elected A vast swath of Americans are driven by short attention soans knee jerk reactionism based on their inability to choose and their reliance of alternative facts President J Gentle is eerily similar to Drumpf the coming destruction of Standing Rock by the Trick or Treatment pipeline from which Drumpf himself oh sorry his son will Skyborn (Star Wars: Lost Tribe of the Sith, profit how is that different from the Concavity? DFW's book can be read as much of a warning againsy Drumpf as Roth's The Plot Against America or Lewis' It Can't Happen Here And I digressAn important book for the 21st C And oh so relevantI talked for a few hours to fellow Goodreads reading addict Nocturnalux and tried to get her convinced that this should be on her reading list It remains for me a landmark work reuiring infinite The Rage patience to get the reveal of the infinite joke at the end

Read Infinite Jest

Infinite Jest

Comedy 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 d 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 were headed before I broke i— interrupted? 1001This is arguably what passes for a joke in Infinite Jest See Gately is a reformed thief who used to burglarize houses to support his drug habit So when he starts to say before I broke in he catches himself and corrects it to interruptedThis uote unuote joke I did not catch until my fifth reading of the monster that is Infinite JestIt's the kind of thing that could well polarize your readers5 stars out of 5 I'll talk your ear off about this one if given half a chanceMY FIRST REVIEW JANUARY 2016view spoilerThere are books and then there are BOOKSOnce I told a friend that my mom's favorite book was Atlas Shrugged and my friend said she was just trying to impress me with page count Some might feel the same about Infinite Jest which boasts 1079 pages 981 of prose and the remaining 98 all footnotes It's experimental it's self aware and it's complex Or it's not complex so much as detailed Overdetailed Hyperdetailed But it's also apologetic like the author knows he's got something really important to say and he's just so terribly sorry to bother you with it in this way Maybe knowing that the writer later killed himself colors my opinion but the whole book is infused with gravitas There are scenes full of energy and others that are boring in their normalcy yet it's all described in baroue intricacy that makes the mundane seem powerfully importantInfinite Jest is the story of Hal Incandenza a teenage tennis prodigy from an affluent Massachusetts family who briefly visits an addicts' halfway house It's also the story of Don Gately a reformed thief who finds an unpleasant but effective recovery through the same house's 12 step programs and becomes a hero in the process It's also also the story of a secret short film so addictively entertaining that anyone who watches it dies slowly wasting away as they freeze catatonic and unable to turn it off And it's also also also about all the context in between and around and behind all that like the recent war that forced all the North American countries to merge and the way Hal's father killed himself after filming the film in uestion and the Canadian wheelchair assassin suad seeking to find the master copy so they can weaponize itInfinite Jest reminds us of what words can do what books can be what serious literature as art looks like I admit I had to turn to the Internet early on to search for some clarification But even that foray into cyberspace felt right like the text was only enhanced as time moved us all ahead into a fully digital age It's all part of the experience and Infinite Jest is absolutely that an experience Anyone who has finished it seems to remember where they were when they did sometimes if only because of all the other things they weren't able to do because they spent so much time reading it My copy comes with an introduction by Dave Eggers who compares it to exercise and that's a very apt comparison Reading it is like flexing your brain muscles It's not uite like lifting weights but rather like posing in front of the mirror and thinking I look goodI admit also that I skimmed some sections I skimmed much of the minutiae of the tennis academy routines I skimmed the plodding Eschaton games I skimmed the goofy puppet show film and the political farce of how ONAN got set up These are worldbuilding scenes bloated out of control methodical and tiresome and pretty damn boring And the phone conversations between Hal and Orin? Please Nobody talks like thatOn the other hand I was riveted by the scenes in the addicts' house and at the Boston AA meetings And I was transfixed by the delightful passages with Lyle the locker room guru who maybe can hover and gives out sage advice to troubled teens at the tennis academy And I laughed out loud when I read about the feral hamsters breeding in the nuclear wastes among other things The prose could surely benefit from a trim a couple pages here or a dozen there to help speed the narrative along And those footnotes aren't particularly illuminating; I stopped checking them very early on and my understanding didn't suffer any Maybe this is all an artistic choice—if the book is truly about life in America and how we're all escapists trying to endlessly entertain ourselves to distract from the unpleasant thought of our inevitable death as the critical consensus appears to be then these long stretches of dull text must reflect a singular truth about living in reality there's plenty of parts of life itself we'd love to skip over right? But we can't We are bound to continue on forwards one minute at a timeSo in the end what to say? Is it perfect? Well no But it is dramatic and perception altering and significant The depictions of addiction and depression resonate deeply It is absolutely touching and Very Important But it's not easy and I don't know that it's very re readable even though a second reading is strongly encouraged as the ending loops right back around to the beginning a la Finnegan's Wake You could just keep reading through and starting over and jumping right back down the rabbit hole as it were which is very appropriate given the exploration of addiction and the symbolism of the mystery movie2 of 5 as a work of entertainment 5 of 5 as a work of art and thus 4 of 5 stars from me overall OK OK Amended six months later on 592016 I've thought about this book than any other I've read critiues of it and watched movies based on it and speculated upon it and legitimately thought If you want to 'get' me you've got to read 'Infinite Jest'It pops into my consciousness every couple of days or so and if that isn't what makes a 5 star book then I don't know what does 5 stars out of 5 It's something else hide spoiler The Tower passions that make us human and one of those rare books that renew the idea of what a novel can d Around halfway through endnote 90 which itself is 4 Stuff 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 were headed before I broke i— interrupted? 1001This is arguably what Top Gear passes for a joke in Infinite Jest See Gately is a reformed thief who used to burglarize houses to support his drug habit So when he starts to say before I broke in he catches himself and corrects it to interruptedThis uote unuote joke I did not catch until my fifth reading of the monster that is Infinite JestIt's the kind of thing that could well Trick or Treatment polarize your readers5 stars out of 5 I'll talk your ear off about this one if given half a chanceMY FIRST REVIEW JANUARY 2016view spoilerThere are books and then there are BOOKSOnce I told a friend that my mom's favorite book was Atlas Shrugged and my friend said she was just trying to impress me with Skyborn (Star Wars: Lost Tribe of the Sith, page count Some might feel the same about Infinite Jest which boasts 1079 The Rage pages 981 of Bronc Buster prose and the remaining 98 all footnotes It's experimental it's self aware and it's complex Or it's not complex so much as detailed Overdetailed Hyperdetailed But it's also apologetic like the author knows he's got something really important to say and he's just so terribly sorry to bother you with it in this way Maybe knowing that the writer later killed himself colors my opinion but the whole book is infused with gravitas There are scenes full of energy and others that are boring in their normalcy yet it's all described in baroue intricacy that makes the mundane seem April Lady powerfully importantInfinite Jest is the story of Hal Incandenza a teenage tennis JUST SAY FUCK! prodigy from an affluent Massachusetts family who briefly visits an addicts' halfway house It's also the story of Don Gately a reformed thief who finds an unpleasant but effective recovery through the same house's 12 step The Periodic Table of FOOTBALL programs and becomes a hero in the Kwame Alexander process It's also also the story of a secret short film so addictively entertaining that anyone who watches it dies slowly wasting away as they freeze catatonic and unable to turn it off And it's also also also about all the context in between and around and behind all that like the recent war that forced all the North American countries to merge and the way Hal's father killed himself after filming the film in uestion and the Canadian wheelchair assassin suad seeking to find the master copy so they can weaponize itInfinite Jest reminds us of what words can do what books can be what serious literature as art looks like I admit I had to turn to the Internet early on to search for some clarification But even that foray into cyberspace felt right like the text was only enhanced as time moved us all ahead into a fully digital age It's all The Small Bachelor part of the experience and Infinite Jest is absolutely that an experience Anyone who has finished it seems to remember where they were when they did sometimes if only because of all the other things they weren't able to do because they spent so much time reading it My copy comes with an introduction by Dave Eggers who compares it to exercise and that's a very apt comparison Reading it is like flexing your brain muscles It's not uite like lifting weights but rather like Mary Berrys Foolproof Cakes posing in front of the mirror and thinking I look goodI admit also that I skimmed some sections I skimmed much of the minutiae of the tennis academy routines I skimmed the The Temple-Goers plodding Eschaton games I skimmed the goofy Collected Poems puppet show film and the Are the Dinosaurs Dead, Dad? political farce of how ONAN got set up These are worldbuilding scenes bloated out of control methodical and tiresome and The Tao of Jack pretty damn boring And the Soma phone conversations between Hal and Orin? Please Nobody talks like thatOn the other hand I was riveted by the scenes in the addicts' house and at the Boston AA meetings And I was transfixed by the delightful Lead the Way passages with Lyle the locker room guru who maybe can hover and gives out sage advice to troubled teens at the tennis academy And I laughed out loud when I read about the feral hamsters breeding in the nuclear wastes among other things The The Rig Veda prose could surely benefit from a trim a couple The Silver Spoon of Solomon Snow pages here or a dozen there to help speed the narrative along And those footnotes aren't SEXUAL BORDERLANDS particularly illuminating; I stopped checking them very early on and my understanding didn't suffer any Maybe this is all an artistic choice—if the book is truly about life in America and how we're all escapists trying to endlessly entertain ourselves to distract from the unpleasant thought of our inevitable death as the critical consensus appears to be then these long stretches of dull text must reflect a singular truth about living in reality there's Faerie Heart plenty of Starlight parts of life itself we'd love to skip over right? But we can't We are bound to continue on forwards one minute at a timeSo in the end what to say? Is it The Wish Maker perfect? Well no But it is dramatic and Falling Like Snowflakes (Summer Harbor, perception altering and significant The depictions of addiction and depression resonate deeply It is absolutely touching and Very Important But it's not easy and I don't know that it's very re readable even though a second reading is strongly encouraged as the ending loops right back around to the beginning a la Finnegan's Wake You could just keep reading through and starting over and jumping right back down the rabbit hole as it were which is very appropriate given the exploration of addiction and the symbolism of the mystery movie2 of 5 as a work of entertainment 5 of 5 as a work of art and thus 4 of 5 stars from me overall OK OK Amended six months later on 592016 I've thought about this book than any other I've read critiues of it and watched movies based on it and speculated upon it and legitimately thought If you want to 'get' me you've got to read 'Infinite Jest'It Archibald Wavell pops into my consciousness every couple of days or so and if that isn't what makes a 5 star book then I don't know what does 5 stars out of 5 It's something else hide spoiler

Free read Å E-book, or Kindle E-pub ï David Foster Wallace

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 plead?WARWICK 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 Mason?PROSECUTOR 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 worm?WARWICK 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 head?WARWICK Objection Beyond the scopeJUDGE How is that beyond the scope?WARWICK 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 Forché’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 thesis?WARWICK 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 examination?PROSECUTOR 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 not?HANNAH 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 reading?HANNAH II might have donePROSECUTOR Moreover on several occasions did you not see him underlining passages he thought particularly admirable?HANNAH 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 seuences?HANNAH 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 courtroom?HANNAH 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 objection?WARWICK The nature of it? Umwhat’s that one about badgers again? PauseJUDGE Badgering the witness?WARWICK 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’ story?WARWICK 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 knickerlessness?WARWICK 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 evaluate?WARWICK 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 there?WARWICK 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 sentencing?WARWICK Wait Wait I have one witness to callJUDGE Very well Who?WARWICK I call dramatic pause David Foster Wallace For reasons of space the trial concludes here