Friday, July 24, 2009

Infinite Summer

My reading of Infinite Jest continues; I just finished up to page 394, which is right about on target (the deadline coming up on Monday is page 390, I think). Before I started reading, people were saying you really get sucked in at around page 200 or page 250, but I am finding it mostly a slog. And sometimes really gross (Lyle, It, all the scatalogical stuff, and c.) Last night I was trying to get through the chapter on the game Eschaton, and I was so bored. I'm sorry, DFW fans.

On the plus side, I did finally find a chapter on tennis that I liked (the one about the competition that they go to) and there continue to be magical parts. For instance, anything to do with Joelle, the phone conversations between Orin and Hal, and the whole Orin's crush on Helen thing, which is hilarious. Oh, and Found Drama! Another part that had me laughing. The Statue of Liberty. And then the whole chapter about Joelle in that bathroom was amazing. So there are tons of bright spots. (On the flip side, I may never get that Raquel Welch thing out of my head, satirical or not, oh my god, sweet jesus.)

I like that things are starting to come together. I keep referring back to the filmography (the infamous footnote 24) and things are beginning to be clarified there. And characters from all over the place are converging on each other. So that's a plus.

I started to get the sense in this section that Hal is the book's narrator. I've been trying to figure it out because of the "like" tic, which has begun to drive me completely crazy. I think it's overused. For instance, on page 195, it is used three times: ("twisting hands and bulging eyes at like dawn," "they were watching, at like 0630h.," "and then within like three hours"). At first, I could handle it, as a conversational way to establish tone. BUT IT IS EVERYWHERE. And it is beginning to grate on me. Now it jumps out at me, and I spend like a minute deciding if it could have been deleted or not. (See what I did there?)

So there you go. Some pros, some cons. I'm interested to see where it goes next. And if anyone can figure out a rationale for the "like" thing, I'm all ears.

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Anonymous Eric said...

I do like DFW, but Infinite Jest was not my favorite. Also, it's freaking huge.

5:27 PM  
Blogger BC said...

I only made it about 150 pages before I realized that I was watching television at times when I would otherwise have been reading just to avoid it. Your post is not making me feel bad about this decision since the stuff you mention is either stuff that already bugged me or stuff that would have bugged me for sure.

Have you read his short stories? I think they are fantastic, or more specifically, I think some of them are fantastic and the ones I don't like are at least aggravating in an interesting way. I figured I would get to that point eventually in Infinite Jest but I just do not have enough reading time right now to be willing to make it the only thing I am reading.

6:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, I followed your Twitter link here. We're at about the same place, I'm on p.411 and just finished the part about the "Clipperton Brigade," the myth that's used to discourage potentially mercy-minded E.T.A. males.

I remember reading about Raquel Welch but there's so much stuff in here that I would have to be reminded exactly what it was about. Too bad there's no way to search the text for keywords like you can with Amazon's "look inside" feature.

I'm enjoying the parts about Boston because I lived for years in many of the places described in the book. Okay, here's a big example.

When Orin plays on the Boston University football team, his work-study job is to "turn on the sprinklers every morning at the B.U. Terriers' historic Nickerson Field" [286], however, my dormitory was directly adjacent to that field so I happen to know that it's always been artificial turf. The first time I had ever seen Astroturf was on that field. So he's never set foot on that field, but that's OK.

Hang in there.


7:24 AM  
Blogger mo pie said...

Yeah, Beth, I wonder if I would still be reading it if not for my book list. But then again, I'm also in the middle of "A House for Mr. Biswas" and that book I really hate. Infinite Jest has some enjoyable stuff in it, especially by comparison.

Thanks for your comment, Steven. I haven't gotten to the "Clipperton Brigade" part; I guess that's next! The astroturf thing is funny. I've picked up a couple of things on the boards like that--inside jokes that are either really subtle or you have to have some insider info to understand. Those are really fun to find! Anyway, I'm definitely sticking with IJ to the end.

11:03 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

An ironic twist is that, the year after this book was published, Boston University dropped its football program, likely rendering those sections anachronistic.

11:02 AM  

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