After years of saying I was going to read Infinite Jest, and instead enjoying more essays by and about David Foster Wallace, I am doing it. I bought Infinite Jest. I’m 100 pages in, with about 1,000 left.
I decided I’d read the footnotes as I went along, which means turning to the back of the book every page or so. This may have been a bad idea. I’ll be working on the story, getting into it, and then see a tiny number over italicized French or the name of another drug, and I’ll catch myself thinking this better be worth it. Fiction people, tell me how you feel about the footnotes. Maybe I’m just cranky because the Patriots lost. Using two bookmarks is kind of fun, and flipping back and forth reminds me of those choose your own adventure books—this weekend, I heard a guy compare video game football to choose your own adventure books, which I thought was apt.
There have been a few interesting Wallace tidbits online recently, including this picture.
And that awesome George Saunders profile in The New York Times Magazine includes quality Wallace discussion (and the best opening of 2013, seriously, you learn what it’s like to almost die in a plane crash with George Saunders). The profiler writes,
I remember Wallace coming into the offices of Harper’s Magazine, where I worked at the time, just before or after the book party for Infinite Jest (which has maybe gotten more attention than any book party in memory, with the descriptions of Wallace hiding in an upstairs room, away from the hundreds of people there to celebrate or be close to his genius). It’s hard to know now if Wallace actually looked spooked or if I’m projecting that look back onto him, but I do clearly recall him standing in the hall in his untied high-tops, saying that George Saunders was the most exciting writer in America.
After finishing the piece, I checked out Saunders’s nonfiction it mentions. His Dubai travelogue is entertaining and as thought provoking as you want to make it, a polished version of the hyper-consciousness Wallace brought to Harper’s with his Fair Essay and Cruise Essay.
I wonder if finally getting to the fiction these writers are known for will make their more accessible nonfiction less captivating to me.
One of my favorite times to read is in the morning while I go to the bathroom and brush my teeth. When held with one hand, Infinite Jest has the supreme and unnatural weight of a human baby. Maybe I dressed Infinite Jest in a onesie and took it to the mall to pick up women, maybe I didn’t. Anyways, the book makes my bird arms sore. I’m also concerned about the transportation/backpack situation. Barnstorm Editors, question: Can we hire an intern to carry around Infinite Jest for me?