Guests, Guides

Nick Maniatis: In Search of Firm Ground

09.04.09 | 16 Comments

Nick Maniatis is the owner/maintainer of the David Foster Wallace web resource The Howling Fantods as well as a high school English and Media teacher. Once he finished Infinite Jest for the fourth time he stopped counting.

The final 200 pages always make me feel like I’m sliding down an ultra fast slippery-dip. I can see the end, but I feel like I’m traveling way too quickly to stop in time. Is there firm ground to land on over the edge?

This is so much fun. Things are whizzing by so quickly. I wish I could slow time and savour every moment.

It does. I do.

One thing of which I am certain is that I don’t want this to end.


So I run back and climb up the that steep, steep, ladder once more. Already forgetting what it was like to launch off the end and hoping that it continues to be as exhilerating as before.

It is.

More recently I’ve learned to look up and away from the slide. Sweep my eyes from side to side and take in the view. Enjoy the journey more than the destination. What I see is amazing.

There are slides all around me. More people. All engrossed. Worried. Entertained. Thoughtful. Crying. Laughing. Some of them are staring right back at me.

I would never have guessed Infinite Jest would become such a large part of my life. In fact, I rarely consider just how much time I have spent with this novel, because honestly, sometimes it scares me.

One thing I know for certain is that this book makes me feel connected to other people. I have conversed with fellow readers electronically for years, many of them through Wallace-L. Listers, journalists, bloggers, academics, fans, publishers, agents and friends. The experience of meeting other David Wallace readers at the Sydney Writers’ Festival earlier this year has me super excited about the November conference in New York. I can’t wait to meet some of you.

This book builds networks and facilitates relationships.

Mark and Matt, two friends, 10 or so years (has it been that long?) apart. I shared with both of them, in person, their first read of Infinite Jest.

Terrified. What if they don’t like it as much as me? Am I obsessed? A creepy fan? Addicted…? So, you like it? Don’t let them see how elated I am. Why play it down?

I’m sorry we’ve fallen out of touch, Mark. I miss you. Email me. I know you have my address.

Thank you Infinite Summer. I love reading all of your comments in the infinite summer forums, a couple of the threads in there have blown me away. I’m also loving the blogs: Infinite Detox, Infinite Zombies, Infinite Tasks, and Kul. Thank you.

I can’t help but hope David Wallace realised what he achieved with this novel.

This novel speaks to me.

It make me feel more connected to my family and friends.

More connected to other fans and readers.

More connected to my world.

I better understand my faults and misgivings.

I am more generous and open to differing points of view.

I watch tennis with eyes I never knew I had.

I no longer laugh at AA.

I understand that letting go, saying no, and not being a slave to my desires is real freedom.

Double binds only make you stronger.

Connecting with others is connecting with yourself.

I understand that one can, simultaneously, fall in love and choose to love.

Enjoy what is left. You only get one first read.