Infinite Summer

Formed in the summer of 2009 to read David Foster Wallace's masterwork "Infinite Jest".
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 Post subject: I used to think I was intelligent before I read IJ...
PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 7:24 am 
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Joined: Tue Jun 30, 2009 10:49 am
Posts: 13
...now i feel like a schmuck. I had high test scores, fancy college, lots of degrees. It's so humbling to have DFW's brilliance shoved in your face. This forum also makes me feel humbled. There are so many members who have such great comprehension. This is such a masochistic endeavor. Anyone else feel stupid in the face of this book?


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 Post subject: Re: I used to think I was intelligent before I read IJ...
PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 9:06 am 
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Joined: Wed Jun 24, 2009 4:16 pm
Posts: 86
Location: North Dakota
I don't think it's possible to read IJ and go "Oh, yeah. I get it" unless you're missing it entirely. We have to remember that, yes DFW is aggravatingly good at firing synapses and all that goes with being brilliant, but also that this book has a lot of DFW's experiences in it. IJ is full of his childhood, Iowa, tennis, and all sorts of things that are DFW. In that way, it's sort of a Proust book as well as a Joyce book and a Homer book and a Pynchon book and a Gaddis book and a DeLillo book, and a-- you get the point. He talks about Burl Ives, a name that meant nothing to me until I went looking and discovered that I know exactly who that rolley polley claymation snowman voice is. What makes it easier for me to slog through this thing for the X (x>2) time is that he didn't write it in a year or five, this thing took him a LONG time to put together. And while that doesn't change the fact that it's meticulous and deep and witty and maybe more human than I'll ever be, it gives me hope that DFW and I are part of the same species...


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 Post subject: Re: I used to think I was intelligent before I read IJ...
PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 9:48 am 
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Joined: Mon Jun 22, 2009 4:56 am
Posts: 10
graciousme wrote:
...now i feel like a schmuck. I had high test scores, fancy college, lots of degrees. It's so humbling to have DFW's brilliance shoved in your face. This forum also makes me feel humbled. There are so many members who have such great comprehension. This is such a masochistic endeavor. Anyone else feel stupid in the face of this book?


I had pretty much the same reaction. I'm actually reading it for the second time, the first time was a complete disaster because I rushed through and didn't take the time really pay attention and just enjoy it. It eventually turned into a chore where I decided I was going to finish the book if it killed me, which was obviously the wrong approach to take.

So when I heard about Infinite Summer I thought okay, I'll give it another try. Between the book and the quality of the forum postings, I thought my God, I must be some kind of idiot, maybe I'd be better off reading James Patterson and those mysteries that get solved by the cats. :lol:

But as I get farther along, I'm finding the forum more helpful and motivating than intimidating. The other readers are pointing out things that I never would have caught, plus it motivates me to put a lot more effort into reading IJ than I normally would with fiction.


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 Post subject: Re: I used to think I was intelligent before I read IJ...
PostPosted: Sun Jul 19, 2009 7:54 am 
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Joined: Thu Jun 18, 2009 8:51 am
Posts: 43
I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels like a dummy when reading IJ! Did DFW write with a thesarus at hand, or did he know all these words?

I got high scores on all the English tests I took, majored in English, yadayadayada. . .but, this book is making feel inadequate!


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 Post subject: Re: I used to think I was intelligent before I read IJ...
PostPosted: Sun Jul 19, 2009 11:00 am 
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Joined: Tue Jun 30, 2009 1:52 pm
Posts: 41
I really strongly recommend that everybody listen to some interviews with Wallace, if you haven't already. There are a whole bunch on kcrw.com from when he appeared on Michael Silverblatt's show, Bookworm. And then the Charlie Rose Interview, here: http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/5639

It's fun to see the way he actually conversed.


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