Thanks to Adam for leading me to A Supposedly Fun Blog, which is (mostly) the reflections of people who've tasked themselves with reading David Foster Wallace's 1,079 page Infinite Jest this summer. It's all part of Infinite Summer, which gathers masochistic readers together for this good cause. I'm reading at my own pace rather than with the group, and mark my progress a percentage at a time.
Last fall, Wallace's untimely demise caused me to take belated notice of his talent. I blogged about him often, focusing to excess on his Midwestern roots. But I always figured I'd leave Infinite Jest for others, until Infinite Summer came along.
Let me tell you: it's a slog, but it's a glorious slog. There are so many digressions, and excessive adverbs, and plot points that could be dispensed with if Wallace had a firmer editor. (He admitted his problems with editing to Charlie Rose in 1997, a year after Jest appeared.) But it is oh so hilarious, and so very brilliant.
If you're going to break every single rule of clear and concise writing--cardinal rule: don't bury in endnotes information that would be useful in the narrative--you'd better be able to carry it off. Foster Wallace could.
There are many trying times along the way in IJ, but at approximately 14% in it is most definitely worth the effort.
And the funny thing: all those seeming irrelevances and excesses have a point. It all connects, to the point that footnote 21 links up with footnote 211. My favorite footnote so far is 24, an exhaustive filmography of one James O. Incandenza (best movie title: The Night Wears a Sombrero), which is a tour-de-force parody of archival arcana. I was pleased to read this just for kicks, but according to the commenters on Supposedly Fun Blog it all makes sense in the end.
That's pretty awesome.