Wednesday, May 26, 2010
While SS's blog post today read like the sprawling itinerary of a woeful socialite, completing the book pictured above is my primary objective this summer*. Because the cover photo is in two dimensions, you may be think me unambitious or illiterate. Here is Infinite Jest from another angle.
1079 pages at my count. Well. Technically 981 pages with 98 pages of footnotes (which I intend to read). Now I've read long books before (IT is 1104 pages thankyouverymuch), but Infinite Jest is another matter entirely. If you aren't familiar with it, here's a synopsis from Wikipedia:
"The lengthy and complex work takes place in a semi-parodic future version of North America. The novel touches on the topics of tennis, substance addiction and recovery programs, depression, child abuse, family relationships, advertising and popular entertainment, film theory, and Quebec separatism."
It's author is David Foster Wallace, widely regarded as a genius and one of the most influential writers of the last 20 years. Wallace committed suicide in late 2008, but 1995's Infinite Jest is his magnum opus and a fixture on nearly every "Best of the Century" literature lists. I've read a few of Wallace's essays from his non-fiction work A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, including the eponymous 100-plus page essay about DFW's experience aboard a cruise ship which I count among the funniest things I have ever read/listened/watched (imagine a 3 hour long AFV music montage and you're close). To call Infinite Jest daunting is to call sumo champion Asashoryu "husky". It is dense, 388 lines are punctuated with footnotes that force you to flip to the back of the book, and it skips all over the place. Mercifully, thus far (through page 42), it still maintains the edge and humor that made his shorter pieces so successful. He doesn't flaunt obscure words or engage in superfluous descriptions to fluff up a page. Every line seems absolutely crucial in bringing you into the characters and the scene. A scary realization for a book over 1,000 pages long.
I have 97 days. As I am on page 42 now, that leaves me a cool 1037 pages, or 10.69 per day to finish it by the end of August. Sounds simple enough, but so do most things on paper. We shall see. I'll update on my progress as I see fit.
*Well, this and devise, film, edit a documentary short, but with SS gallivanting around New England that may well be on indefinite hiatus.