Monday, June 8, 2009

Infinite Summer

Ever wanted to tackle reading David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest? This summer would be a good time.

Here's the call to action from the newly launched Infinite Summer website:

Infinite Jest over the summer of 2009, June 21st to September 22nd. A thousand pages ÷ 92 days = 75 pages a week."

The site offers four guides/writers and various participants who'll go through the experience with you.

Reading IJ was one of the most amazing (and exhausting) reading experiences I've ever had. I read it in the fall of 1997 when I was living in San Francisco. I still remember commuting to work and lugging it on the bus or train -- usually so crowded that I had to stand, one hand holding a pole and the other clutching the 1,079-page paperback, causing a severe case of Infinite Jest wrist.


Ravi Mangla said...

Is it worth it? I love Wallace, but, man, that’s asking a lot. Thousand pagers made sense when novels were serialized, but now it just seems selfish. To publish something that long, you have to believe your book is better than the next five or so books on the average person’s reading pile. (I can see Ayn Rand believing that.) And how about lingering pains and the long-term health risks associated with IJ wrist? Scary stuff.

Andrew Roe said...

Hey Ravi,

Thanks for stopping by.

Is it worth it? Wow. That's a tough one. It's subjective, you know. It was definitely worth it for me, and I know multiple people who really enjoyed it too. I also know multiple who, well, didn't enjoy it and gave up.

Here's what I'd recommend if you want to try: give it at least 250 pages. That's when things really started clicking for me. Don't give up after 5 pages or 50 pages or 100 pages. Just keep going until you hit 250. Commit to that. If it's not floating your boat by then, bail.

I hear you about the selfish thing. But DFW offers so many rewards here: the humanness, the humor, the sadness, the sentences that have lives of their own. Sure, I probably only got about 42 percent of what was going on, but once I let go and realized I couldn't absorb everything, I was okay w/ that.

As for any long-term effects due to IJ wrist: there were none. I made a full recovery. Although I did relapse a bit when I was commuting and reading Underworld, which wasn't as bad, however, because it's only like 800 pages.