Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Wave bye-bye to the autocrat

NOW READING: Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler

It has come to my attention that I have not really shared any of my positive thoughts about Infinite Jest. There were positive thoughts, of course. I really wish I had been blogging more as I went along. (Silly law school! Who said you could take over my brain?)

What DFW does is create this bizarre and bizarrely compelling world. Several worlds, actually, wrapped into one larger world, and while it is socio-political, it is also character driven, this world(s). The kids at the tennis academy are ten kinds of funny, although I just see Hal as an exaggerated version of DFW himself. Hal's family is really hard to explain. His father makes avant garde films, and one of these is largely the point of the book, but his filmography is the most hilarious skewing of post-modern art that takes itself too seriously in a world that doesn't take itself seriously enough that you are ever likely to see.

I often preferred the world of the halfway house down the street from the tennis academy. The conversations between Gately, who was still working on his recovery from drug addiction and trying every day to keep the strength to not go back Out There, and whatever random halfway house resident came to him that day, were absolutely hilarious. The most pitch-perfect skewering of AA while still knowing quite enough about it to show that DFW obviously had at least SOME use for 12-step recovery...

Did I mention the halfway house was called "Ennet House Drug and Alcohol Recovery House"? And how about the fans blowing U.S. waste into the Great Concavity, what used to be much of the Northeast, now ceded to Canada? Let alone the Union of the Hideously and Improbably Deformed (U.H.I.D.), whose members don veils to hide and be united ... and Joelle, whom we know to be the Prettiest Girl of All Time (P.G.O.A.T.), wearing a veil for reasons we can only speculate...and Hal's brother, whom she used to date, who so loathes the cockroaches that invade his Tucson residence that he puts glasses over them, trapping them, where they suffocate until the glasses are fogged with their carbon dioxide output. A great creepy image, until you start questioning, do insects even breathe that way? That much? But of course, like everyone else this guy has his pathetic motives and a million weaknesses and quirks.

And that's how it all is. The whole book. Yes. The jest, it is infinite.

By comparison, Darkness at Noon now seems kind of frothy, actually, despite being about political prisoners facing the threat of torture and execution.

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