Way back awhile ago, Matthew e-mailed me and said, I’m thinking of doing this thing, would you like to do it, too? And I was all, HELL NO. Why don’t you ask mimi smartypants, she’s the secretary/treasurer of the David Foster Wallace Fan Club. It was my way of saying, thanks, but don’t you want a qualified literary opinion-giver along on this trek? I can barely parse Dr. Seuss.
Then I didn’t hear from Matthew for like three months, so I was all, WHEW! Now I can go back to knitting this sock. But then, of course, Matthew followed up4 and said that mimi had declined — having already read the book three times5 she wasn’t up for number four.
Then, sensing my reluctance to flaunt my intellectual weaknesses about the Internet, Matthew went on to say a bunch of wildly flattering things about me, like that mine was one of the first blogs he ever read, and that I gave him the idea upon which he built that Nobel Prize-winning physics thing he did about God.
My only qualification for being an Infinite Summer guide seems to be that I, too, once picked up Infinite Jest and failed to finish it. I didn’t even PAY for my copy, I was working in a bookstore at the time and got one free from the Little, Brown rep. Apart from my anxiety about committing to a Big Book at the time,6 what bothered me most about the book was the cheap advance-copy binding, the way the cover curled up and over itself when the humidity rose above 15%. I eventually donated it to the Planned Parenthood book sale.
I remember the book being about tennis, which is a sport I enjoy playing once or twice a year. I was varsity in high school, but the coach said that even though I had some talent, I just didn’t appear to want to work very hard.7
However, as your sherpa, I vow to come up with something moderately insightful to say each week.8