Elsewhere Jest


09.20.09 | 22 Comments

As Infinite Summer draws to a close, many have penned their “final thoughts” post:

  • Sarah’s Books: “But and so and but so I finished IJ.”
  • I Just Read About That: “So, obviously, the first reaction is WHAT?!
  • Infinite Zombies: “I’ve probably tended to race down the hill of those last 200 pages and just lost the end amid the swirling thoughts of how ambitious and crazy and good the whole book is, and I’ve never given the actual end — the stuff about Gately specifically — very much thought.” (Daryl Houston).
  • Of Books and Bikes: “Wow, people. Infinite Jest is a great book, and it’s going on my list of favorite novels ever.”
  • Magnificent Octopus: “At some point, about a week ago, I was ready to say this is an awesome book, this Infinite Jest, and while I spent much of the first couple hundred pages admiring it, I was also somewhat confused and not really relating to it … So but, right, I’m done now, and yup, awesome book.”
  • Shelf Life: “This brings me to my primary problem with Infinite Jest. The excess. Wallace’s writing is amazing. It’s funny and insightful and rich with amusing references and even intentional, revealing mistakes. I loved his narrative voice, but it’s just too much. Too much story, too many characters, too many walls of text.”
  • A Supposedly Fun Blog: “AAAAAARRRRRGGGHHHH. I was expecting that. But not that.” (Erza Klein) and “I enjoyed it to the end, although I started to resent it about three weeks ago, not because the quality flagged (it didn’t) but because my stack of unread books began to reach truly frightening heights.” (Kevin Carey)
  • Catching Days: “I am shocked at how much I loved Infinite Jest.”
  • Aaron Swartz: “The whole book is laced through with mocking cracks at this disconnected style, like a preemptive apology. And the ending really doesn’t help matters. But in the middle it is truly grand, some of the best fiction ever.”
  • Thinking Without a Box: “A brilliant, earnest, and an enriching piece of fiction. Every time I read pages in the book, I was always amazed by the sheer genius of David Foster Wallace. He was truly a great one.”
  • Verbatim: “I did not want it to end, because now I will never again get to read about Don Gately, Joelle Van Dyne, Hal Incandenza, and all the rest—until I reread, that is.”
  • Jazz … In Strange Places: “when i realized i had only 50 pages left i knew i was screwed in the resolution department.”
  • A Hyperanaphylaxis Universal Mean: “I read Jest in about 10-25 page increments over the past three months; sometimes a little faster, sometimes a little slower, but always just like a mule. Plodding along through the hills and the dark down there caverns of this tumultuous, twisting book.”
  • Ongoing: “I’m glad I read it. I would never dream of recommending it to anyone.”
  • Prozac: “Each character, though all seemingly reflective of the author, was so painfully individual and human that I felt I knew them better than I know my own friends and family.”
  • Tape Noise Diary: “Wallace’s inside joke and wink is that what’s entertaining about the story it’s is non-entertainment and unsatisfying story arc. It’s like a very long thesis about addiction and entertainment that uses plot and characters as props.”

And in case you missed it, much of our blogroll finished the book early (infinitedetox, Gerry Canavan, members of Infinite Zombies, and so forth). We listed their final reactions in the previous Roundup post.

Also in the last fortnight, a lot of rumination about Infinite Summer and the future of reading. Matthew Battles, of the Hermenautic Circle Blog, writes:

When I think of Infinite Summer, I remember that the liberal arts are at their heart not a profession or a civic medicine but a disposition.

The institutions of the life of the mind are in a bad way—and they always have been! I wouldn’t have given you two cents for the institutions at any point in the history of civilization. But the life of the mind isn’t really about institutions, is it?

I know I’m simplifying things; it could be argued that without institutional exposure to the liberal arts, Infinite Summer’s far-flung participants would never have undertaken conversation.

Kathleen Fitzpatrick, associate professor of media studies at Pomona College (and I.S. guest) discussed the “death of literature with Humanities Magazine. The Missouri Review ponders Book Clubs in the World of Tomorrow!.

If you have recently written something about Infinite Jest, pelase let us know in the comments.