Thursday, June 21, 2012

Infinite Book

Infinite JestInfinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It took me six months, but I finally did it. All 1,079 pages, including 388 footnotes, some of which ran 10 to 15 pages and contained footnotes within the footnotes. Despite, following along (more or less) with a readers' guide, I can't say that I began to understand the book. Some of the writing is very clear, with good descriptions and laced with humor. There were many things I found infuriating about the book -- the constant use of initials for names of people, places and things; the use of obscure words after obscure words, which even a heavy reader with years of education could not decipher. The book struck me as being by and for English majors.

Why did I bother? First, I have never started a book I didn't finish. Second, Wallace is from this area and I kind of know some of his immediate family members. Third, it is praised by those in the know as one of the great works of literature of the Twentieth Century and Wallace is considered one of the century's greatest authors. No doubt, Wallace is an extremely smart person, but he is not smart enough to be able to write his thoughts in such a way that a reasonably educated person can understand them. What I would really like to do is read the book again in the Kindle version so that I could get immediate definitions of unknown words by simply pressing on the word. But not yet. First I'm going to cleanse my palate with some Proust.


forsythia said...

Life is too short. If the book pleases you not, throw it in the corner in disgust. The "thunk" when it hits the wall is very satisfying.

forsythia said...
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