Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Affinity #27

My very long reader/book relationship with David Foster Wallace's thoroughly incredible and infuriating Infinite Jest is not quite over, but the end is very noticably near. I don't quite know what I'll do with myself afterwards, or what I'll do with the fact that the book is over; I feel like I've been at this a year now. Wallace was unlike anyone. Even when the book exhausts me, it exhausts me in a brand new way. The strange thing is that Infinite Jest will be only the second Wallace book I'll have read, but his style and brilliance and way of thinking have so burrowed into my skull that when I think of Wallace, I often first think of him as still being alive, before I remember that he is not. This is a book you live with. Forever, probably.


Anonymous said...

Reading Infinite Jest robs you of the desire to do anything else.

Ed Howard said...

I love Wallace's essays and non-fiction, but Infinite Jest has been staring at me from my bookshelf for years. I really need to get to that soon.

bill r. said...

I'm shocked, Ed. With your love of difficult books, I figured you'd read this multiple times by now.

Incidentally, did you ever get around to CITY OF SAINTS AND MADMEN?

Ed Howard said...

I did read and enjoy City of Saints and Madmen a while ago, that was a great recommendation. I really liked it, especially after the first story. It's a really inventive world, and I especially loved all the metafictional devices that start cropping up in the later stories and the seemingly endless appendixes.

otherbill said...

I stumbled across Infinite Jest on the new release table at my college bookstore about 2 days after reading The Broom of the System on a friend's recommendation. I spent what was an exhorbitant amount of dough for me at the time, essentially withdrew from life, and read it in about 4 days. I followed his work with tremendous interest ever after and his was one of the few celebrity deaths that really hit me like I'd lost someone I knew. It seems insane that a mind so alive to the world would leave so soon.

One thing I always admired and appreciated about Wallace was that he wasn't afraid to let you see him thinking. It's always fascinating to me to watch a top-notch mind working through a thought process and acknowledging its doubts, shortcomings, and prevarications. I also liked that he seemed to be able to approach a person, event, or work with a knowledge of its context and his preconcieved notions, limn said context, identify said notions, and then set it all aside and approach the thing before him on its own terms. This strikes me as an all-too-rare quality.

Ok- it's a bit late & I work Saturdays. Here's hoping that made sense.