Sunday, April 20, 2008

Infinitely worth it

A friend on mine called me a liar on facebook today. I have Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace listed as one of my favorite books. His note:

You're a liar. No one has read Infinite Jest.

Which is hilarious because it is probably mostly true. Infinite Jest is huge.
HUGE. It is like 2000 pages of small 10pt arial font densely compacted. It is an epic travel over four or five years of a young brilliant, drug experimenting Tennis hopeful, Hal Incandenza, in the "near but distant future". Oh, and it is about his family,friends and intertwining plot webs that connect randomly or nonrandomly over the course of these few years. Once you pick up the book and weigh its tomeishness in your hands and flip open the pages to the see the tiny tiny font, you also realize that the main chapters are really only a thousand pages. The second thousand pages are FOOTNOTES. Yes, footnotes. However, unlike most footnotes(which don't usually appear in long fiction anyway), these tell more detail of the plot in focus and begin to weave other plot angles all on their own.

The characters are brilliantly funny and tragic, the drug excursions are hilarious, and Wallace's "near but distant future" is so creative and satirical that it is both ridiculous and totally believable. To get you started, Hal starts out the story in The Year of Glad. Yes, the US (who has cluelessly convinced Mexico and Canada to form the "Organization of North American Nations" or ONAN) has finally sold the Year Calendar to corporate sponsors to make money. Just wait for The Year of the Tucks Medicated Pad.

Infinite Jest is old. It came out in 1996 and I probably read it the first
time in 1997. Yes, the FIRST time. I have read it three times. One, because I have a shitty memory and the thing is huge and two, because it is that fucking GOOD. It is my deserted island choice.

So, Buy it and read it. I dare you. And then let me know, because I have actually never met someone who has read it- and I LOVE talking about it.

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