Infinite Summer – Week 7

Oops, I’m posting this a few days late.  That’s mostly because I had no such luck on catching up; last week got a little insane and I didn’t get to “cram” as I’d hoped to.  But it’s moving along, and I should catch up soon.  There’s a big margarita (or two) with my name on it when I reach the halfway point, so trust: I’ll get there ASAP.

My main thoughts thus far:

I know there are die-hards out there.  I’m definitely not one of them.  I don’t hate the book, and I’ll definitely finish, but I keep vacillating between thoughts like, “Okay, David, STFU with this 20+ pages of Eschaton bullshit,” and “David, that was brilliant!”  It’s a constant toss up between extreme annoyance at pointless footnotes, and utter adoration for the way he writes certain characters (hel-lo, Mario Incandenza).

So when I think of the die-hards, I ask: how much of the IJ love is based on the book itself, and how much comes from the fact that this is Written By The David Foster Wallace?

I mean, really.  Yeah, the book is filled with moments of genius, but would you cut the novel the same slack—do you think you could/would defend the length, the awkwardly-placed endnotes, the descriptions that sometimes lead to nowhere, etc.—had it been written by, say, Ethan Hawke?*

I have a feeling the answer is a big fat NO.

* I’m going with Ethan Hawke solely based on his character in Before Sunrise/Before Sunset, since Jesse seems like someone who would could feasibly mete out a Steeply/Maranthe conversation.  As an aside, Hawke has indeed written two novels, but uh…chances are I ain’t reading those.

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About Melissa

I love donuts. Chocolate iced, hold the sprinkles.
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3 Responses to Infinite Summer – Week 7

  1. Sorrento says:

    On the contrary, David Foster Wallace became important to me because of Infinite Jest, not the other way around.

    The first time I read it, I knew that I liked it. But I wasn’t sure what had happened or what it was about, but I was glad that I had read it and was oddly compelled to read it again. The second time I understood many of the sections better since I had a context to place them in. Now, on my third time, I feel that I am understanding the entirety of the novel better (having smart people blogging about it all summer helps too).

  2. Same here, sort of. I was intrigued by what I knew of DFW, but my reading of him was somewhat limited – scattered essays, Supposedly Fun Thing, some of Oblivion. I didn’t need to love this book. The book did it. And the community, which has helped me to read the book at a pretty rich, detailed, and coherent level the first time through, which I can understand is not the case for lots of folks. (Note that I dig what your saying – I don’t think it is possible for me not to love a book by Delillo, or Octavia Butler, or Simone de Beauvoir, for different reasons in each case – and not that they are THE Delillo, Butler, Beauvoir. Perhaps a better test will be when I read THE 2666?)

  3. What brings me to your 3 and a half year-old blurb? A 1996 Times Mag citation in D.T. Max’s DFW biog. in which it references Ethan Hawke attending the book release of IJ. AKW, huh?! 😀
    I was just searching around to see if Ethan had commented on the novel. BTW, a new Linklater’s putting out the third installment of that Sunrise series called Before Midnight.

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