Infinite Summer

Formed in the summer of 2009 to read David Foster Wallace's masterwork "Infinite Jest".
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The Inficratic Oath: first, post no spoilers. Limit your I.J. discussion to only those events that take place on or before the page 981 (100%).



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 Post subject: Re: First Impressions?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 7:37 am 
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Joined: Sun Jun 21, 2009 3:11 pm
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Location: Dayton, OH, USA
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I was expecting something more more obtuse with all the warnings being posted on the main page about how difficult it is to get through the early part of the novel. I think that might have scared some people off.


I agree. Although I am certainly finding the book challenging, and it is dense, I think that some of the warnings in the "How to Read" post overstated the case a little (and possibly set up expectations that could make a first time reader like myself trip up). I'm reading, but trying to let the prose sort of flow over me without actively picking it apart, or looking for allusions (though there are some that jump off the page), or overthinking it too much. I'm finally settling into the flow (I'm 35 pgs in), and I think that one way to approach the novel is just to trust the author -- in other words, a lot of this doesn't seem to make sense right now, seems without context (because it is, at this point), but DFW is going to work it out for me if I'm just willing to go along.

I think that I'm going to try to read through to the goal for the week and then go have discussions, pick at things, maybe go back over a few pages to flag things that seem important.

- Jess


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 Post subject: Re: First Impressions?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 7:46 am 
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Joined: Tue Jun 16, 2009 6:22 am
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Location: Norwalk, CT
Seems like an enjoyable read. Good author! The story lines are riveting, the characters seem quirky but real. I think he gives plenty of contextual clues to understand his more obtuse word choices. I am glad that this project got me to read this book this summer.


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 Post subject: Re: First Impressions?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 10:31 am 
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Posts: 3
I got to page 19 on 6/21. The admissions interview was surrealistic, paranoic, and beautifully written. It touched upon every admissions issue that I can think of. I am going to re-read which may put me behind. I am so pleased to have this summer challenge. Okay, so I reread this morning and think all admission counsellors should read this section as part of their training.


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 Post subject: Re: First Impressions?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 2:47 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jun 21, 2009 1:10 pm
Posts: 28
I love "how was your first sip?"
Like Amarone, a favorite wine from Italy... dry, subtle with so many undertones of delight.
Intoxicating.. one of a kind.


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 Post subject: Re: First Impressions?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 5:06 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jun 16, 2009 9:25 am
Posts: 89
Location: Brooklyn
From my notebook:

pg. 14 - 15 Attempt to communicate, not being heard, totally misunderstood. There is more to him than the visible / physical. Look beyond that and there's brilliance, somewhere unseeable. Physical boundaries, limitations.


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 Post subject: Re: First Impressions?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 6:48 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jun 16, 2009 7:59 pm
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Location: Maine, USA
raanve wrote:
Quote:
I was expecting something more more obtuse with all the warnings being posted on the main page about how difficult it is to get through the early part of the novel. I think that might have scared some people off.


I agree. Although I am certainly finding the book challenging, and it is dense, I think that some of the warnings in the "How to Read" post overstated the case a little (and possibly set up expectations that could make a first time reader like myself trip up). I'm reading, but trying to let the prose sort of flow over me without actively picking it apart, or looking for allusions (though there are some that jump off the page), or overthinking it too much. I'm finally settling into the flow (I'm 35 pgs in), and I think that one way to approach the novel is just to trust the author -- in other words, a lot of this doesn't seem to make sense right now, seems without context (because it is, at this point), but DFW is going to work it out for me if I'm just willing to go along.

I think that I'm going to try to read through to the goal for the week and then go have discussions, pick at things, maybe go back over a few pages to flag things that seem important.

- Jess


I think this is really important. When you're standing outside looking in, it can seem like a lot of DFW's work is nearly impenetrable. But once you start reading, you realize that he isn't going to let you drown--not for a second. If any modern writer was acutely aware of the connection between the reader and the writer, it was DFW. Like Dave Eggers says in the foreword, the book is drum-tight; there are no lazy sentences. They may be long and complex at times, but they're so perfectly constructed you just glide right through them. For the most part, his writing is a breeze to read, and for anyone who's tried to write on their own, he's both awe-inspiring and jealousy-inducing. He has such an idiosyncratic voice, a tone that's relaxed and erudite and inviting and gorgeous. I can't get enough of the man's prose. Which works out great, because there's always so much of it! And that's what intimidates people. The quantity. Once they dip their toes in, though, they realize that that doesn't mean he ever sacrificed quality, and that having such an enormous pile of genius dumped in your lap is pretty awesome, after all.


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 Post subject: Re: First Impressions?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 9:44 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jun 16, 2009 9:12 am
Posts: 19
Location: Los Angeles
OhItsJustDan wrote:
I think this is really important. When you're standing outside looking in, it can seem like a lot of DFW's work is nearly impenetrable. But once you start reading, you realize that he isn't going to let you drown--not for a second. If any modern writer was acutely aware of the connection between the reader and the writer, it was DFW. Like Dave Eggers says in the foreword, the book is drum-tight; there are no lazy sentences. They may be long and complex at times, but they're so perfectly constructed you just glide right through them. For the most part, his writing is a breeze to read, and for anyone who's tried to write on their own, he's both awe-inspiring and jealousy-inducing. He has such an idiosyncratic voice, a tone that's relaxed and erudite and inviting and gorgeous. I can't get enough of the man's prose. Which works out great, because there's always so much of it! And that's what intimidates people. The quantity. Once they dip their toes in, though, they realize that that doesn't mean he ever sacrificed quality, and that having such an enormous pile of genius dumped in your lap is pretty awesome, after all.


(Removed what was quoted before this so my reply doesn't get too long.)

Yes, yes, and yes. I kept thinking most of what is written above while reading the Erdedy section that begins on page 17 (I hope it's okay to reference that section, since it begins before page 21!). It's quite dense and lacks a traditional structure, with some stream of consciousness type stuff in there... but god does it flow so well. But it's not dense in an impenetrable way, it's very modern. Anyway, OhItsJustDan has said it all much better than I could!

I realized I was going to love this book on the very first page: "My fingers are mated into a mirrored series of what manifests, to me, as the letter X." What a beautifully striking way to say, "I crossed my hands." Later on page 6: "The Dean with the flat yellow face has leaned forward, his lips drawn back from his teeth in what I see as concern. His hands come together on the conference table's surface. His own fingers look like they mate as my own four-X series dissolves and I hold tight to the sides of my chair." I'm no writer, but I think I understand what you mean by "jealousy-inducing".

And yet it's so funny I found myself really laughing at multiple passages. One that comes to mind is the bathroom scene on pages 13-15.


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 Post subject: Re: First Impressions?
PostPosted: Tue Jun 23, 2009 3:28 am 
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Joined: Fri Jun 19, 2009 5:23 am
Posts: 10
Location: County Wicklow, Ireland
I am very much enjoying the book so far. I am intrigued by the chapter headings and the technical objects like the TP device and why the telephone is described as a telephone console. What time period is the novel taking place in? What do all the acronyms mean? What is going on in the world outside of Hal's personal space? And most of all: is it too early to be asking such questions?


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 Post subject: Re: First Impressions?
PostPosted: Tue Jun 23, 2009 6:45 am 
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Joined: Mon Jun 22, 2009 8:26 am
Posts: 5
This is my second attempt at this behemoth (last time I bailed around page 156) and I am incredibly intimidated. I bought the 10th Anniversary edition because I'd heard good things and it was incredibly cheap. I had no idea what I was getting into and quickly got out.

On the other hand, I adore the first chapter so much that I had to wonder why I couldn't finish this last time...


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 Post subject: Re: First Impressions?
PostPosted: Tue Jun 23, 2009 7:51 am 
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Joined: Mon Jun 22, 2009 1:42 pm
Posts: 4
I'm trying to balance the notion that I could read this a lot faster if I was doing it on my own with wanting to take my time through it and really get into it (and stay with the crowd). I've purchased the two guides most talked about here and elsewhere to slow me down, and I'm also going to tackle some other DFW during the summer - finishing Broom simultaneously, and I'm going to read some essays as well.

I really love the Infinite Summer concept, it's just what I needed to start picking up books on a semi-regular basis versus doing other, more mindless things.


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