The Book Before

06.10.09 | 42 Comments

If Twitter is to be believed (and when has it ever done us wrong?), many of you have already begun reading your copy of Infinite Jest. And that’s okay. As we’ve said in the past, doing so is perfectly permissible under the rules. Ya big cheaters.

The rest of us, meanwhile, are frantically trying to finish whatever currently sits on our nightstand, in anticipation of the big event.

We asked The Guides what they are reading, and if they would recommend it to an Infinite Summer participant who was looking to pick up something on, say, September 23rd. Here are their replies.

Kevin Guilfoile: The book I’m finishing (with Infinite Jest on deck) is The Great Perhaps by one of my favorite Chicago writers Joe Meno. It’s probably Meno’s most ambitious book to date, a chronicle of a barely functioning family of Chicago liberals around the time of the 2004 election with generational flashbacks going back more than a hundred years. A terrific book to wind down with in September.

Eden M. Kennedy: I am currently finishing up More Information Than You Require by John Hodgman. I would heartily recommend it to people who like funny books full of made-up facts (“lies” in other words).

Matthew Baldwin: I just completed the 2004 novel Body of Lies by David Ignatius, about a US spy stationed in Jordan who cooks up an elaborate Trojan Horse-style scheme to take down an al-Qaeda faction from the inside. The plot is by-the-numbers espionage stuff honestly, but Ignatius (a mild mannered Washington Post columnist by day) clearly knows a metric ton about the subject matter, and his portrayal of post-9/11 CIA agents railing against the bureaucracy that they perceive as soft and restrictive is fascinating in juxtaposition with the conversation we are currently having in this country regarding the use of “enhanced interrogation.”

Avery Edison: I must ashamedly confess that I’m not actually reading anything in the run-up — and haven’t for a while. Reading the Internet has kind of replaced regular old book reading for me, and that’s something I’m hoping to address with this project. It’s sad that I’ve gotten to the stage where I need a weekly writing commitment to force me to read, but I guess we’ll just chalk me up as one of those “Facebook generation” people who knows how to hack into the Pentagon, War Games-style, but can’t make a slice of toast.

Seriously, I miss toast. I have a P.O. Box address if someone would like to mail me a slice. Buttered, please.

The comments are open. Let us know what you are wrapping up, and if it’s worthy of a recommendation. And you may want to bookmark this thread as well, to revisit in a month or three.