Last year BJ and I decided to read War and Peace. It ended up being a fun thing to do (yes, we are book nerds!) and we both agreed that doing it together helped us make it through the entire book. We decided to do it again and read Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace this year. And we are starting it on his birthday, February 21.
There are two responses to me mentioning the book: one is, I have never heard of the book before. The second is, I started it but couldn’t finish it. I have not found anyone in person who has read the entire book. That does not bode well.
When we took on the War and Peace reading project, I was skeptical. It has a reputation of being a long and boring book. However, it has stood the test of time and it’s a classic and I had faith that there was something about the book that made it read-able. Infinite Jest is a relatively ‘new’ book – published in 1996 – so there isn’t the same vibe about it being a ‘classic’. However, it is on Time’s best 100 books of all time. American Pastoral is on the list – which I didn’t finish. But so is Are You There God It’s Me Margaret – which is a classic. So it has that going for it.
Part of my challenge is going into this is, I want to be blown away by this book. I have read the commencement address David Foster Wallace gave at Kenyon. He is insightful and he seems to ‘get’ the human condition in a way that I experienced before. Who wouldn’t want to be blown away by this guy and his art?
I had this same problem with the film maker Akira Kurosawa. I had always wanted to watch ‘Seven Samurai’ – people talked about him as a filmmaker and how the film was awesome. I watched it and was like, meh. Not saying it’s not a great movie, it just wasn’t my thing. I was disappointed because I wanted to LOVE it and be part of the cult of Kurosawa. I don’t hate him, I just won’t be running out to see his back catalogue of films. I am trying to manage my want to join the cult of DFW.
I am taking on the challenge of reading Infinite Jest with as much of open a mind as I can. I feel like this will be more of an adventure and a journey than War and Peace was. Stay tuned.