Infinite Summer

Formed in the summer of 2009 to read David Foster Wallace's masterwork "Infinite Jest".
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 Post subject: The Future of Infinite Summer (or: Join the Tunnel Club)
PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2009 12:17 pm 
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The sub-14 E.T.A.s historically have a kind of Tunnel Club. Like many small boys' clubs, the Tunnel Club's unifying raison d'etre is kind of vague. Tunnel Club activities mostly involve congregating informally in the better-lit main tunnels and hanging out and catching each other in lies about their lives and careers before E.T.A., and recapitulating the most recent Eschaton (usually only about five a term); and the Club's only formal activity is sitting around with a yellowed copy of Robert's Rules endlessly refining and amending the rules for who can and can't join the Tunnel Club.


Like The Tunnel Club, Infinite Summer's raison d'etre is kind of vague. Well, not yet. But it will be in a month, after we've finished reading Infinite Jest.

The question of what would happen to Infinite Summer come autumn was one that I was frequently asked in interviews, and I was always very coy in my responses so as not to tip my hand w/r/t the Master Plan ... or, rather, the fact that I had no plan, Master or otherwise. The idea of transitioning the site into a perpetual online book club thingamaroo certainly occurred to me, but the amount of work the project entailed (at least until recently) prevented me from mapping out what such a future would look like.

It's decision time now, though. And while I continue to have no solid plan, I am slowly tumbling to the realization that I am going to continue the site, at least for a while.

Right now I'm trying to figure out what direction to take the site after we finish IJ. I am well aware that Infinite Jest is a unique artifact, and that Infinite Summer may implode without it at the core. That said, it seems to me there are a few distinct paths the site could take from here:

Focus on the novels folks "have always meant to read": That would be a mix of the classics (Moby Dick, Ulysses, The Great Gatsby) and modern stuff (The Kite Runner, Beloved, etc.).

Do the postmoderns, those that stimulate and reward discussion: Labyrinths, House of Leaves,The New York Trilogy--pretty much anything on [url=href='http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/jacketcopy/2009/07/the-mostly-complete-annotated-and-essential-postmodern-reading-list.html]this list[/url].

Keep the site DFW oriented: I recently learned that DFW taught a contemporary fiction course at Illinois State, in which the syllabus was books that he himself had trouble reading. Like me and I.S., he figured it would be a good way to trick himself into finishing them. Novels included JR by Gaddis, Ratner's Star by Delillo, Blood Meridian by McCarthy, etc. In addition we could do other novels that Wallace expressed admiration for (e.g., Dune, The Screwtape Letters, etc.).

Pick books based solely on their conduciveness to catchphrases: Let's face it: 65% of Infinite Summer's success is attributable to the phrase "Infinite Summer" itself. Going forward we'll only select books that lend themselves to catchy title + season project names, e.g., Autumn 2009: "Things Fall Apart!", Winter 2009: "Snowlita!"; Spring 2010: "From Here to E-vernal Equinoxy!"; and so forth</li><br></ul>

A mix of these themes would probably be best; perhaps a huge, postmodern opus every six months, and shorter, more conventional novels in between. Right now I am leaning toward 2666 for winter and Gravity's Rainbow next summer (or The Pale King, depending on publication date). I would also love to tackle The Recognition and Underworld, devote a season to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and maybe have Dystopiathon (think 1984, Brave New World, and Clockwork Orange). For shorter works, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and Housekeeping are at the top of my list (I have a literal list). And as a post Jest palate cleanser, I am tempted to devote October to Dracula, to conclude on Halloween Day (I've already contacted a few potential Guides for this one).

But as much as Infinite Summer is about literature, it is also about community. So please: join The Tunnel Club and help us draft our very own Robert's Rules. We'd love to get your input, either in the comments or the forums. And thank you for your continued participation--I hope the Infinite Summer experience has been as wonderful and engrossing for you as it has been for all of us.


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 Post subject: Re: The Future of Infinite Summer (or: Join the Tunnel Club)
PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2009 12:35 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jun 24, 2009 10:48 am
Posts: 59
Location: Orlando, FL
I'm definitely in! I'll mull over these ideas and come back with some concrete thoughts but just wanted to say let's go for it. Bravo to you Matthew for putting this all together - it has been a fantastic experience.
Joan

I've added another post here that I also put in the main post comment section.


Last edited by JRLSberro on Tue Sep 01, 2009 10:06 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The Future of Infinite Summer (or: Join the Tunnel Club)
PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2009 1:17 pm 
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matthewbaldwin wrote:
Quote:

Focus on the novels folks "have always meant to read": That would be a mix of the classics (Moby Dick, Ulysses, The Great Gatsby) and modern stuff (The Kite Runner, Beloved, etc.).


I like this idea, since IS is what finally compelled me to read IJ.

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 Post subject: Re: The Future of Infinite Summer (or: Join the Tunnel Club)
PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2009 4:24 pm 
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In spite of having posted only twice before, I love IS and many times a day I visit it with various needs and curiosities about IJ and DFW. When I suggested IJ to my book group, three others agreed to read it as a "summer break" novel and here, at the end of August, I am the only one who has (happily) stuck with it! That is what led me here: no one I know was remotely interested in reading it. I am attracted to the idea of taking on challenging, "always-meant-to-read" books that I will probably (yeah, right... definitely) never get to unless challenged/supported by some external force. I like the idea of continuing, but as a member in a long-standing, friendly, book group that reads good, literary novels/pieces (and I read a lot on my own) I honestly would not continue with more of the same in this space. So, my suggestion is that the master plan must go beyond a "book club" approach when choosing texts...* I'm not sure WHAT it looks like... maybe one great, "quirky", "always-meant-to-read" "masterpiece" each summer? One, too, in the winter, perhaps? Maybe the Tunnel Club is called to assemble when there is good reason, ie a book can no longer be ignored... All I know is that I came here because it offered something I couldn't find anywhere else at a time when I needed it most. Can the momentum live on?


*In an effort to make a point, gently: With all due respect, think Oprah for titles like The Kite Runner and Beloved.

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 Post subject: Re: The Future of Infinite Summer (or: Join the Tunnel Club)
PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2009 4:26 pm 
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el811 wrote:
Maybe the Tunnel Club is called to assemble when there is good reason, ie a book can no longer be ignored... All I know is that I came here because it offered something I couldn't find anywhere else at a time when I needed it most. Can the momentum live on?


So, does this mean we need a game of Eschaton to go badly awry to get things going? Who wants to be Ingersol?


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 Post subject: Re: The Future of Infinite Summer (or: Join the Tunnel Club)
PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2009 5:17 pm 
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A mix of these themes would probably be best; perhaps a huge, postmodern opus every six months, and shorter, more conventional novels in between. Right now I am leaning toward 2666 for winter and Gravity's Rainbow next summer (or The Pale King, depending on publication date). I would also love to tackle The Recognition and Underworld,


I'm in for any of the above (esp. The Pale King and Gravity's Rainbow and anything huge and postmodern).

Thank you for this wonderful infinite summer site b/t/w, I love it and check it as often as I can make time for it...


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 Post subject: Re: The Future of Infinite Summer (or: Join the Tunnel Club)
PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2009 5:58 pm 
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However things go forward, I definitely think the content on this site should remain DFW and Infinite Jest focused as a kind of rolling database of information about IJ and his other works.

My love and understanding of this book has been greatly amplified by the discussions this website, and I'd hate to see it get muddled by attempts to do the same in the future on the same platform. Right now, my girlfriend is planning on reading IJ next summer and it would be great to archive it in a way that would allow future readers to somehow follow along with the flow of these posts and discussions retroactively, even if it's just navigating to the first posts and starting there.

So basically, I would definitely support another Infinite Summer-ish reading again, but just do it at a different url and leave this one to continue to grow as it is.

// Jason


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 Post subject: Re: The Future of Infinite Summer (or: Join the Tunnel Club)
PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2009 6:24 pm 
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I would *love* it if the book was JR, as I've started it a few times and always really like it but never stick with it.

2666 or Gravity's Rainbow is also good.

To stick with DFW, we could read Thomas Harris' Red Dragon as a palate cleanser and then JR or Broom of the System.


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 Post subject: Re: The Future of Infinite Summer (or: Join the Tunnel Club)
PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2009 10:34 pm 
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The title of this thread is kind of deceptive. I thought it was going to be about another book reading site started based on William Gass's The Tunnel. In fact I'm going to push for The Tunnel as the next book to get the IS treatment.

We need a poll based on the options you've given us matthewbaldwin in order for this to get anywhere.


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 Post subject: Re: The Future of Infinite Summer (or: Join the Tunnel Club)
PostPosted: Tue Sep 01, 2009 3:13 am 
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Please consider reading Brother's Karamazov. It's not post-modern, but it is related to IJ. In fact, Timothy Jacobs argues in his article Brothers Incandenza that "Infinite Jest is patterned so meticulously after Dostoevsky's Brothers Karamazov that ..it is a rewriting or figurative translation of The Brothers Karamazov into the contemporary idiom or context."

In addition,DFW has spoken and written about BK in ways that make the book and characters seem like ones we will all live with forever, much like those in IJ. I would be happy to email you more arguments and details in favor of BK but please at least consider this book that many say is the best novel ever written.


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