Thursday, April 15, 2010

Is it worth the effort and time to read Infinite Jest?

Yes, I think it is. But you must be prepared to read it one of two ways:

a.) embrace the entire monstrosity of the 1,100+ pages and struggle your way through non-linearity, footnotes that wander off into unknowns of optics and pharmaceuticals.

Or . . .

2.) choose a particular story--i.) the drug rehab story, ii.) the tennis academy story, iii.) the mystery of the Entertainment and focus on that.

The first time I read the book, I threw myself in whole hog, was awash in confusion, and tried to hold it all together.

The second time I read it, I cut out the drug rehab story and simply tried to focus on the other two threads.

IJ is a book that must be read more than once, no matter what you do, so just take a chance and try to find things to enjoy. While this wasn't my first exposure the David Foster Wallace, it will be the work that he is going to always be remembered for. So if you are interested in DFW at all, you should give Infinite Jest a try.

(But if you simply give up, I will recommend "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again" until my dying day. Make SURE you sit down to read that one.)

(And if you can't take IJ, please, please, please give "House of Leaves" a chance instead.)

And but so, that's my answer.

Thanks for asking.

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