Tuesday, February 05, 2008

I don't even mind the footnotes. So far.

NOW READING: Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace

Those of you who have not Infinitely Jested may wonder what this tome is all about. Three hundred pages in, many things remain mysterious, but I can at least tell you some of what I like about it:

  • Much like Margaret Atwood and South Park, our boy David Foster Wallace skewers all manner of viewpoints by following them to their logical extended result. This, of course, has the effect of being both amusing and chilling.
  • I love the way he writes long convoluted sentences that hold my interest, but also occasionally writes using a very casual form and the word "like" to great effect. In other words, proving that people can use that word as a random interjection and not sound insipid. Yeah!
  • Making fun, but with just a hint of admiration, of the 12-step recovery scene, most prominently with the Ennet House Drug and Alcohol (sic) Recovery House. I love it. It's great, from the guy running around creating major social theory about everyone's tattoos to the bit I read today in which he demonstrates how a conversation goes between a platitude-spouting counselor and an educated person who joins the Program, who is not unwilling to engage in recovery but is questioning everything intellectually and trying to reason through the cliches about denial and the like. It was awesome. Kind of reminded me of some experiences I had back in the day, especially in L.A. where everyone had a therapist. (Myself included.)
  • I love anyone who can discourse handily about the danger of black widows dropping onto your picnic blanket from their homes in the Arizona palm trees.
I'm trying to think if any of my friends have read this book. Have you? I think I mostly know OF people who've read it. And I definitely know people like myself who have felt for ten years that we SHOULD read it. Well, anyone? Who loves this book? And why? No spoilers, please. One avid reader friend said she hasn't read it, and her idea is that mostly guys like it. True? A cursory MySpace search for people who'd listed it among their favorites turned up some scary results, indeed...

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