Friday, February 1, 2013

Infinite Jest

Infinite Jest is a novel by David Foster Wallace
by Charlie Leck

This is not a review; for I’m only 150 pages into this book. This is more an alert and a call to arms.

Have any of you read this book? If you have, are you as amazed as I am by it? Do you share my high opinion of it? Do you like the writing?

I’ve never quite posted a blog like this before, but I am so amazed by this big, big novel that I just have to wonder who all is reading it and what they are thinking.

I mean, this is a crazy book. If it weren’t so compelling and the story so mysteriously interesting, why you’d just shove it aside as a waste of time. And by mysteriously interesting, I mean that one cannot even figure out why it is so interesting as it is. A little of it is quoted below...

“In this dream, which every now and then still recurs, I am standing publicly at the baseline of a gargantuan tennis court. I’m in a competitive match, clearly: there are spectators, officials. The court is about the size of a football field, though, maybe, it seems. It’s hard to tell. But mainly the court’s complex. The lines that bound and define play are on this court as complex and convolved as a sculpture of string. There are lines going every which way, and they run oblique or meet and form relationships and boxes and rivers and tributaries and systems inside systems: lines, corners, alleys, and angles deliquesce into a blur at the horizon of the distant net. I stand there tentatively. The whole thing is almost too involved to try to take in all at once. It’s simply huge. And it’s public. A silent crowd resolves itself at what may be the court’s periphery, dressed in summer’s citrus colors, motionless and highly attentive. A battalion of linesmen stand blandly alert in their blazers and safari hats, hands folded over their slacks’ flies. High overhead, near what might be a net-post, the umpire, blue-blazered, wired for amplification in his tall high-chair, whispers Play. The crowd is a tableau, motionless and attentive. I twirl my stick in my hand and bounce a fresh yellow ball and try to figure out where in all that mess of lines I’m supposed to direct service. I can make out in the stands stage-left the white sun-umbrella of the Moms; her height raises the white umbrella above her neighbors; she sits in her small circle of shadow, hair white and legs crossed and a delicate fist upraised and tight in total unconditional support.
“The umpire whispers Please Play.
“We sort of play. But it’s all hypothetical, somehow. Even the ‘we’ is theory: I never get quite to see the distant opponent, for all the apparatus of the game.”
                                   [from Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace]

There is something wild at work here – somewhat James Joyce, but more fun – J.D. Salinger, but even crazier – Elliot Rosewater, but even more complex.

In my daily journal, I wrote the other day…

Oh, my goodness, it is unusual and quite hysterical. And, I close it down after each segment’s reading with a number of questions and exclamations about its contents and what it has said to me or the greater world. Something about it compels me to return to another segment at another time and to another and to another. (The style and mystery of the book’s language is quite contagious!)
I am captivated by this book and I find myself absorbed in it while I’m reading. It is so intense in both humor and sobriety that I must occasionally pull myself away to rest. In two days, I have gotten through about 150 pages and felt moved, because I like it so much and would not ever (emphasis intended) have purchased it for myself (and that would have been a shame)

Who out there has read this book? Will you explain it to me.

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