The Infinite Vastness of Infinite Jest

This is my second attempt at reading David Foster Wallace’s ‘Infinite Jest’. My first endeavour with the hardback copy ordered from the library nearly dislocated my shoulder as it met the exact maximum size specification for airline hand luggage. I knew that reading it would be a physical impossibility and fleetingly considered purchasing a kindle, which, as I’m a die-hard luddite passionately in love with the printed page, is saying a lot.

Thankfully, I’ve now got the paperback which is smaller if still unwieldy. Flicking through the 1079 pages of dense manic text, I did wonder whether this would be yet another sprawling American behemoth of a novel in desperate need of an editor. (Yes, I’m looking at you Jonathan Franzen and Donna Tartt) However, after only a few pages, I had that tingling feeling that what I was holding in my hands was something really special, maybe even a work of genius. There’s no slovenly writing to be found within these paper walls, only a sharp, syncopated exuberance of words, ideas and brilliantly vivid evocations like literary jazz, but in technicolour. The downside is that the novel requires a tardis. It makes you want to clock out of your life for a month or so, for total immersion in its intoxicating prose, excluding all else.

infinite jest and kittens

I thought I’d take a picture of my copy next to Queenie and Marcel for scale, but as you have no idea how big they are it’s actually just a picture of ‘Infinite Jest’ with kittens, which is like a furry bonus.

Agonisingly, that’s not possible. I can’t even carry it around in my bag for delving into at every available opportunity – at the school gate, in the supermarket queue, waiting at traffic lights, etc.. as it’s just too darn heavy to lug about, and unfortunately, much of my reading gets done on the hop. It’s too good to dip into sporadically, so from now on I’m going to set my alarm half an hour earlier in the morning to get a daily fix. I’m pretty certain my hair will have grown a number of inches by the time I finish, but it can’t be helped. I already know that a single post won’t do justice to what I’ve read – and I’m only on page 67, so I’m going to blog about it as I go. ‘Infinite Jest’ deserves infinite posts. I’ll see what I can do.

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