Infinite Summer

Formed in the summer of 2009 to read David Foster Wallace's masterwork "Infinite Jest".
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 Post subject: "Ulysses" is to Dublin as "Infinite Jest" is to...
PostPosted: Fri Jul 03, 2009 8:09 am 
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Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2009 4:25 am
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As a lifelong resident of the Greater Boston area, it gives me particular pleasure to enjoy all the references to the Greater Boston area embedded within "Infinite Jest". As someone whose idea of a perfect vacation is a week in Dublin retracing the path of James Joyce's "Ulysses" characters, I'm getting a rush out of the concept that one of my favorite novels ever, DFW's "...Jest" can provide the impetus for a Boston literary tour. The difficulties of the "C., Poor Tony, Yrstruly" scene (pgs. 128-135) are mitigated by the multiple Boston references (Ooh, my "Jest" tour now needs to include the Boston Public Library dumpster!).

Questions for interested parties:

1. What is your most resonant Greater Boston reference in the novel?

2. Where is Enfield, MA, anyway?

3. What other novels besides "Ulysses" do you recommend as being particularly evocative of their setting city? Does every great city have a Best Novel for Evoking It (ie: "Where the Air is Clear", Carlos Fuentes, Mexico City)?


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 Post subject: Re: "Ulysses" is to Dublin as "Infinite Jest" is to...
PostPosted: Fri Jul 03, 2009 8:47 am 
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A quick google search reveals that Enfield, MA was disincorporated in 1938, and lives on in the name of Enfield House in Amherst (where Wallace went to college). The Enfield in the book is much closer to Boston than the actual Enfield was, and some wikipedia contributor suggests that it's meant to stand in for Brighton. I'll buy it.


As for other books, Saramago's The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis is supposedly a Ulysses-esque evocation of Lisbon. I haven't read it though.


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 Post subject: Re: "Ulysses" is to Dublin as "Infinite Jest" is to...
PostPosted: Fri Jul 03, 2009 10:07 am 
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Hey Techno...
Another Boston resident here. I originally bought this book while living in Atlanta and desperately homesick for Boston. It too gives me great joy to read about places that I personally know and love.

I mean, who can ever look at that "Fresh Chickens Killed" sign in Inman Square in quite the same way after reading IJ :)?

Check out the Boston meet-up page. If you are interested, we are setting up a literary or at least a photographic IJ tour of the Boston locales. And so not to threadjack, I will leave that at that.

Enfield was originally a town that was buried under the Quabbin Reservoir in the 1930's. How cool is that? Most agree that it pretty much stands for parts of Brighton down along Comm. Ave. in the book.


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 Post subject: Re: "Ulysses" is to Dublin as "Infinite Jest" is to...
PostPosted: Fri Jul 03, 2009 2:11 pm 
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Sutpen wrote:
As for other books, Saramago's The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis is supposedly a Ulysses-esque evocation of Lisbon. I haven't read it though.


Speaking of future dytopias (I wasn't, but still...), I've only read one Saramago novel, "Blindness", set in an unnamed city which makes DFW's Boston seem paradisaical by comparison, even at its worst. I highly recommend "Blindness" both for the quality of the prose and the disturbing implications it conveys about human nature.


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 Post subject: Re: "Ulysses" is to Dublin as "Infinite Jest" is to...
PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 5:39 am 
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The Boston Globe yesterday published an article on Literary Boston Neighborhoods. The article served as a followup to last year's Reader's Guide to Literary Boston. Conspicuous by its absence from either article? You can guess.

This despite the fact that some year's ago the Globe published an article devoted to the geography of "Infinite Jest". I couldn't find it in the Globe archives, but I swear I clipped it and plan to rummage through various piles of yellowing newsprint until I find it and can reference it for you.


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 Post subject: Re: "Ulysses" is to Dublin as "Infinite Jest" is to...
PostPosted: Wed Jul 08, 2009 10:56 am 
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Here's a Boston Globe article published right after David Foster Wallace's death: Boston's Infinite Jest: A David Foster Wallace memorial tour. There are spoilers in the article, but for those of you who have read the whole book and know Boston, the city map overlaid (overlain?) with the IJ locations is fascinating. Meanwhile, my reading yesterday about the seven Units of Ennet House was full of frisson for me, including references to my birthplace (St. Elizabeth's Hospital), the street of my first post-college apartment (Warren St.), and my physical location at the exact time I read about it (The Green Line MBTA train).


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 Post subject: Re: "Ulysses" is to Dublin as "Infinite Jest" is to...
PostPosted: Wed Jul 08, 2009 12:46 pm 
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I was super excited when he mentioned Cheapo Records in Central Sq. which is right near where I used to live. Also, there is an Emerson College student at the party I think when J.vD overdoses. Emerson is my alma mater.


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