As I dropped in my last blog, I just started Infinite Jest.
Why am I starting Infinite Jest when my favorite contemporary author, Jonathan Franzen, just released his first novel in nine years?
Lots of reasons.
For one, I managed to miss entirely this book on its release in early 1996. I was kind of busy at the time.
Back then, I don't think I would've had the grace to accept that this guy had so clearly trumped me, and everyone else. He was being crowned king of something I liked to delude myself into thinking I could be king of one day, and the best my character could muster for Infinite Jest on its publication was to ignore it, to focus on my band, to grumble, "Well, once I really get going..."
That was over 14 years ago, and if I've managed anything in that time, I hope I've managed to respect--even herald--a contemporary's work when he or she does something great.
The irony of the above statement is that Infinite Jest's author, David Foster Wallace, recently took his own life after a lifelong battle with depression. Having missed the moment, I'd like to pay his memory the respect of giving his magnum opus a shot. We aren't greeted by great works of fiction of this scale very often, and I'd like to experience how great it really is.
Alas, I am a slow reader, and I will surely be reading other books as I work my way through it. I don't expect to finish Infinite Jest in 2010, but you never know.
I'm on page 50 right now, and loving it. The effort expended to notch up the writing of each of these scenes, each of these characters, each of these sentences, is pretty amazing. Now I'm curious if Wallace can sustain that kind of writerly attention throughout the novel. He might have been possessed enough to do it.
As someone who's just about finished writing a novel that's not even half the length of Infinite Jest, I can appreciate the effort.
So, think of me plugging away at Infinite Jest, and probably enjoying it, and probably letting you know how good it is at some point.
Yours in laying down the law,
Try Ghost Notes, the award-winning novel, in print form for just $5.
Try Ghost Notes the Audio Book as an unabridged digital download.
Or try Ghost Notes the Ebook.