Infinite Summer

Formed in the summer of 2009 to read David Foster Wallace's masterwork "Infinite Jest".
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 Post subject: "Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought..."
PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 12:17 pm 
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Posts: 7
Not that I'm not thoroughly occupied with Infinite Jest for the remainder of the summer, but I'm always looking to add to my "Books/Authors I should read" list, and clearly, if you all have the taste for David Foster Wallace, your suggestions for additional reading are particularly valuable.

What book and/or author besides DFW and Infinite Jest appeals to you and why?

I'll start off with my suggestion: Letters, by John Barth.

Image

Letters was Barth's seventh book and in essence provided a sequel for each of his previous six books by creating a chain of letters between characters featured in or inspired by those six books. Explore in any detail the narrative structure of this novel, (the dates of the letters, the particular correspondents, even the first letter of each missive are all predetermined by a schema) and you will either be wowed, like me, or turned off, like some critics. Barth has a reputation for featuring narrative trickery at the expense of empathetic characters and comprehensible story, but the reputation is undeserved. Barth himself used the term "passionate virtuosity" in referring to his writing, suggesting that yes indeed, he can play postmodern tricks with the best of them ("virtuosity"), but is passionate about many things (like DFW with tennis, Barth has a love for sailing that underpins many of his books) and people (his wife first and foremost, said passion also evident in much of his writing).

Wallace references Barth in his story "Westward the Course of Empire Takes its Way" in Girl with Curious Hair, enough of a reason for many of you to pick up a Barth novel or short story collection sometime.


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 Post subject: Re: "Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought..."
PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 1:34 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jul 07, 2009 1:49 pm
Posts: 17
:arrow: Out on Amazon.com, besides a slew of other works by DFW, "Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought" actually states the following:

2666: A Novel - Bolano
The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao - Diaz
Gravity's Rainbow - Thomas Pynchon
The White Tiger: A Novel - Adiga
Netherland - O'Neill
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius - Eggers


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 Post subject: Re: "Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought..."
PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 6:55 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jun 23, 2009 7:36 pm
Posts: 42
Location: Korea
Jorge Luis Borges was an amazing writer of fiction, non-fiction and poetry. He's all about investigating words, time, consciousness....oh such good stuff!

I have to say John Barth was the first writer that introduced me to post modern thought. I highly recommend "The End of the Road", "The Floating Opera" and "The Sod-Weed Factor" if you like DFW.


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 Post subject: Re: "Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought..."
PostPosted: Thu Jul 16, 2009 12:09 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jun 21, 2009 8:33 am
Posts: 9
Pale Fire, by Vladimir Nabokov.

Pale Fire is a much smaller book than Infinite Jest, but I found it to be similarly difficult my first time through - and just as rewarding. It often gets overlooked in favor of Lolita, but I've actually never read Lolita. I can't see how it could be better than Pale Fire.

Pale Fire is one of the best examples of metafiction that I'm aware of - up there with Infinite Jest itself. I would be shocked if DFW hadn't read it - it seems like it must've influenced Infinite Jest.

Pale Fire is an unfinished 999 line poem in four cantos, written by the fictitious John Shade - the novel takes place entirely in footnotes (as well as a Foreward and index) written about the poem by Charles Kinbote. K Kinbote believes the poem was written about a nation called Zembla that may or may not exist. Of course, the poem itself seems to be about John Shade, so you're never sure if Charles Kinbote is crazy or what.

It's a phenomenal book.

The other book I'd like to recommend is House of Leaves, by Mark Z. Danielewski.

Most of you have probably heard of this book. HoL does some very weird stuff - colored text, different fonts representing different characters, the layout of the text changing to reflect the narrative, etc. The book is fascinating just as an object - it's beautifully layed out, carefully put together, with full-color pictures and appendices, and that's disregarding the narrative, which is fascinating - to put it as simply as possible, the book takes the form of notes on a book about a movie which doesn't actually exist. There are at least four narrators, several different plotlines, etc. It's a complex book. It's wonderful.

HoL is sort of a horror story, but, well, it isn't really. It doesn't fit into any one genre.

It gets something of a bad reputation in some circles, because the book is kinda gimmicky, but it's well written enough to hold up, and it's something I think everyone should read at least once - I lost count of how many times I've read it.


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 Post subject: Re: "Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought..."
PostPosted: Thu Jul 16, 2009 2:32 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jul 04, 2009 7:38 pm
Posts: 18
Location: Ottawa, Ontario
Therum wrote:
Pale Fire [...] often gets overlooked in favor of Lolita, but I've actually never read Lolita. I can't see how it could be better than Pale Fire.

Now here is perhaps a sign of a great author. I've never actually read Pale Fire, but I can't see how it could be better than Lolita! What is at once disturbing, terrifying, and wondrous about that book is that it can place the reader within the mind of a child molester so effectively that even an otherwise "normal" person begins to sympathize and identify with him. It is, without a doubt, one of the best works of fiction of the twentieth century. If you have yet to pick it up, I can't encourage you enough.


--Todeswalzer

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First-Time Reader
Started: 26 June 2009 | Finished: 25 July 2009


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 Post subject: Re: "Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought..."
PostPosted: Thu Jul 16, 2009 4:11 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jun 30, 2009 1:52 pm
Posts: 41
Therum wrote:
Pale Fire, by Vladimir Nabokov.

Pale Fire is a much smaller book than Infinite Jest, but I found it to be similarly difficult my first time through - and just as rewarding. It often gets overlooked in favor of Lolita, but I've actually never read Lolita. I can't see how it could be better than Pale Fire.

Pale Fire is one of the best examples of metafiction that I'm aware of - up there with Infinite Jest itself. I would be shocked if DFW hadn't read it - it seems like it must've influenced Infinite Jest.

Pale Fire is an unfinished 999 line poem in four cantos, written by the fictitious John Shade - the novel takes place entirely in footnotes (as well as a Foreward and index) written about the poem by Charles Kinbote. K Kinbote believes the poem was written about a nation called Zembla that may or may not exist. Of course, the poem itself seems to be about John Shade, so you're never sure if Charles Kinbote is crazy or what.

It's a phenomenal book.

The other book I'd like to recommend is House of Leaves, by Mark Z. Danielewski.

Most of you have probably heard of this book. HoL does some very weird stuff - colored text, different fonts representing different characters, the layout of the text changing to reflect the narrative, etc. The book is fascinating just as an object - it's beautifully layed out, carefully put together, with full-color pictures and appendices, and that's disregarding the narrative, which is fascinating - to put it as simply as possible, the book takes the form of notes on a book about a movie which doesn't actually exist. There are at least four narrators, several different plotlines, etc. It's a complex book. It's wonderful.

HoL is sort of a horror story, but, well, it isn't really. It doesn't fit into any one genre.

It gets something of a bad reputation in some circles, because the book is kinda gimmicky, but it's well written enough to hold up, and it's something I think everyone should read at least once - I lost count of how many times I've read it.


As it happens, I wrote my honors thesis in college on both Pale Fire and House of Leaves. I can vouch for their quality.


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 Post subject: Re: "Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought..."
PostPosted: Fri Jul 17, 2009 11:34 am 
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Joined: Mon Jun 29, 2009 5:58 pm
Posts: 13
Cryptonomicon is one of my favorites.


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 Post subject: Re: "Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought..."
PostPosted: Fri Jul 17, 2009 1:14 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jun 21, 2009 8:33 am
Posts: 9
Todeswalzer wrote:
Therum wrote:
Pale Fire [...] often gets overlooked in favor of Lolita, but I've actually never read Lolita. I can't see how it could be better than Pale Fire.

Now here is perhaps a sign of a great author. I've never actually read Pale Fire, but I can't see how it could be better than Lolita! What is at once disturbing, terrifying, and wondrous about that book is that it can place the reader within the mind of a child molester so effectively that even an otherwise "normal" person begins to sympathize and identify with him. It is, without a doubt, one of the best works of fiction of the twentieth century. If you have yet to pick it up, I can't encourage you enough.


--Todeswalzer

That's funny, because the genius of Pale Fire is that it does something really similar to that (though if I delve into it I'd spoil the book, and I'd like to avoid that).

I need to read Lolita, I'll admit - my school library doesn't have a copy of it. Luckily, though, I just looked and my town's public library does, which is fantastic. Likewise, though, you need to read Pale Fire - it's a brilliant book.

Oh! Speaking of Nabokov and recommended reading, The Original of Laura comes out later this year. The Original of Laura was Nabokov's final, unfinished novel, and his son has decided to release it - this is after years of deliberation, since Vladimir Nabokov himself wanted the manuscript burned. . The gimmick is that Nabokov wrote the book out on index cards (a plot device used in Pale Fire).

From Wikipedia -

Quote:
When Nabokov died on July 2, 1977, he was still working on the novel, since retitled The Opposite of Laura and finally The Original of Laura. The incomplete manuscript consists of Nabokov's own handwriting across about 125 index cards, the equivalent of about 30 manuscript pages. The use of index cards was normal for Nabokov, also used for many of his works, such as Lolita and Pale Fire.

This is all from memory (I can't remember where I read this, so it might be totally 100% wrong), but no one in Nabokov's estate is really sure what order the index cards go in (since they're unfinished), so the novel is published as a series of punch-out note cards that the reader can arrange how he chooses - or something along those lines. Information on the book is sort of vague at the moment, and I can't find the source for this info, but I think it's correct.

I was able to find this interview with the son where he sort of hints at that.

So yeah. Exciting times.

E: Aha!

Quote:
Nabokov wrote his novels on index cards, frequently changing the order of the cards as he worked. According to his diaries he had his last book finished in his mind, but then he died before he could complete his work. He had various titles for the book, including The Original of Laura, The Opposite of Laura and Dying is Fun. The published version will be called The Original of Laura (Dying is Fun) and will consist of over 100 facsimile, removable index cards.


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