Eureka! I figured it out!


There was one thing that was really bothering me about the book: there are these chapter-like things that have a date and then weirdness. For example: 9 May- Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment. Wait…what????? Then 1 April – Year of the Tucks Medicated Pad. Hold on….this makes no sense. Then, during a (what seemed like) 30 page footnote listing the ‘films’ that the main character’s father made there were years listed. Voila! It all made sense. In whatever future time (it’s unclear) this book takes place, the years are sponsored or subsidized by companies. Ahhhhhh….that feels better.

As I get further into this book, I can’t help but think this is somewhat (ok VERY) autobiographical for DFW. I guess it’s easy to see that reading it now vs. when he was still alive. This line got me:

And then so what’s the difference between tennis and suicide, life and death, the game and its own end?

Sheesh. That’s deep and dark. And prophetic. When I read that passage (there were other lines related to that) it helped me be bit a more compassionate towards the book. This was written by someone who felt the NEED to tell this story, maybe HIS story and I feel like I want to do right by that.

Lastly (yeah, I am jumping around a bit)….

I was wondering what the relationship was between Dave Eggers and DFW. For some reason, I thought they were more contemporaries (turns out they were not). So I googled that and came across the ultimate book nerd click bait headline: The Infinite Jest Review That Dave Eggers Doesn’t Want You To Read.

Mr. Eggers wrote the intro to the 10th anniversary edition of Infinite Jest saying such complimentary things as:

[Infinite Jest is] 1,067 pages long and there is not one lazy sentence. The book is drum-tight and relentlessly smart and, though it does not wear its heart on its sleeve, its deeply felt and incredibly moving.

BUT <insert dramatic music here>, in his 1996 review of the book he wrote:

Besides frequently losing itself in superfluous and wildly tangential flights of lexical diarrhea, the book suffers under the sheer burden of its incredible length.

I am not going to criticize Mr. Eggers because you know what, those statements are both true. DFW was a brilliant writer. The complexity of his writing, the vivid descriptions of both scenes and the inner-workings of the characters are brilliant. It is relentlessly smart and incredibly moving (see my quote on suicide, above). Also, lexical diarrhea? Yes. So my question is: can you have a brilliant writer that writes a not so great book? I guess I have approximately 1,400 pages more to figure out if that is true in this case.


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