Sunday, February 12, 2012

Infinite Jest

It's the title of a massive novel by David Foster Wallace. It is also his last completed novel. I think he left an incomplete one upon his death. Self-inflicted, alas. Apparently the man was crushed completely by depression. How bad does it have to be for you to hang yourself in your 40s? But that is not the point of this entry. I started reading Infinite Jest a couple of weeks ago, and to be honest, I undertook this considerable task because my daughter was reading it and had blogged about it herself. This was too much of a challenge to overlook. I don't know how she came about deciding to read this book. Apparently, from what she says in her blog entry about it, her brother, my son Bernard had something to do with it. Sounds like some kind of shaming device at work. Well, I have to tell you, shame works on me. I could not let my daughter read this book when just recently I had been talking to not one but two people about David Foster Wallace and how I wanted to read some more of his stuff. I've encountered essays in a couple of magazines, and was always entertained. Hence, Infinite Jest. I am now about 130 pages in, and the book is getting better and better. (Something my daughter confirms after being well over 200 pp. in).

This guy is a massive talent but the vocabulary can be damned daunting. But I have found the solution. A whole Wiki devoted to the book that has a page-by-page that has a massive page-by-page annotation collection that pretty much obviates the maddening task of either/or/or both jotting down the latest word you have no idea of what it means and looking it up with an online source like Google, or my favorite dictionary, Ninjawords, the speediest online look-definition-up tool hands down. This is what the iPad was made for. Having that Wiki right there next to me while I'm reading IJ.

I've got a feeling this will not even be my last entry on this subject.
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