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Infinite Summer • View topic - Frustrated new reader of Infinite Jest

Infinite Summer

Formed in the summer of 2009 to read David Foster Wallace's masterwork "Infinite Jest".
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 Post subject: Frustrated new reader of Infinite Jest
PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2009 2:26 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jun 23, 2009 9:52 pm
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I am a new member and I am so glad to have found this site!!! Started reading Infinite Jest a month ago and I am having a love/hate relationship with the book. The footnotes are making me crazy. Having a hard time getting through the complexity of the book yet I can't seem to put it down. I am about a third of the way through the book - someone, please reassure me that this undertaking is well worth the challenge!


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 Post subject: Re: Frustrated new reader of Infinite Jest
PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2009 2:35 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: Frustrated new reader of Infinite Jest
PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2009 4:40 pm 
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I completely understand where you are coming from. I just finished reading it last month and will be starting again to participate here. Somewhere around page 300 I started enjoying myself. Two things that helped me (and I think I'm just echoing our guides, who's advice is well taken) 1-I finally employed a 2nd bookmark for the footnotes and 2-I stopped caring that I was confused and clearly missing things. Like some of the best stories, this one is worth/needs a second look. I hope you push through, I really do.

Phil


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 Post subject: Re: Frustrated new reader of Infinite Jest
PostPosted: Thu Jun 25, 2009 8:43 am 
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Ditto phillio. For me it was a let go and let ... DFW, I guess. Realizing that I would die a painful death if I tried to cram it into my need for a basically linear storyline, I said fuggit and push on through. Trust me, the hard weird bits look much easier to parse from the other side, sort of like seeing the back side of a stage set. Def. use book marks to ID the beginning of the end notes.

And consider using a bobby pin, page dart or similar marking device to ID where you are on the page when you go following footnotes.

One other thing that works occasionally for me first time through was pushing through to the end of the scene/episode/whatever before reading through the supporting matter. Wallace is a product of the TV age; as such, his narrative is built around a framework of scenes within the individual acts and even smaller set-pieces within the scenes. Getting to the "commercial" allows me some breathing room to incorporate the addenda.

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 Post subject: Re: Frustrated new reader of Infinite Jest
PostPosted: Thu Jun 25, 2009 4:57 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jun 04, 2009 2:42 am
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You are not alone. Everyone has some frustration with the book. Think of it as a journey, not a destination. Don't try to know everything, every character or every word. Just go with the where the book leads. Pick up what you can. Think of it as walking through the woods in a foreign country. You can't read every sign or know the name of every plant, the rocks you have to climb over are annoying, but you will learn something on the way.


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 Post subject: Re: Frustrated new reader of Infinite Jest
PostPosted: Thu Jun 25, 2009 8:08 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jun 22, 2009 8:13 pm
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testforecho,
I love your description of journey!
Colette


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 Post subject: Re: Frustrated new reader of Infinite Jest
PostPosted: Fri Jun 26, 2009 10:56 am 
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I wanted Cliff's Notes.


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 Post subject: Re: Frustrated new reader of Infinite Jest
PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 10:51 am 
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Joined: Thu Jun 18, 2009 2:13 pm
Posts: 2
Keep in mind that the medium is the message. The complexity and resistance of narrative conventions in the structure of the novel echoes the themes of the story. In the novel, the entertainment cartridge renders the viewers completely passive to a point where they cease living. The structure of Infinite Jest resists that easy absorption to keep you, the reader, actively engaged.

Consider that the book may be intentionally frustrating you, it may be trying to get you to think of the nature of frustration in relation to art and entertainment. Should we expect art or entertainment to be easy? Could that easiness be the difference between art and entertainment?

To paraphrase from the Bookworm interview, Infinite Jest is very much a book about what we as humans should pay attention to. To my mind, that is one of the most relevant questions I have ever considered.

Unfortunately, I feel that much of Infinite Summer is focusing way to much on just the fact that Infinite Jest is long, complex, and resists conventional narrative structure. The relevant questions are why is it long, complex, and frustrating? Does the book itself answer those questions? Should it answer questions or just ask more of them?


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 Post subject: Re: Frustrated new reader of Infinite Jest
PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 12:19 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jun 27, 2009 12:55 am
Posts: 35
*nods understandingly* Keep coming back.


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