After a few weeks off the reading project, where I enjoyed the literary equivalent of empty calories (the latest Sophie Kinsella book anyone?) we are back in the thick of Infinite Jest.
I am guessing that DFW figured he was down to his last 400 pages and needed to get serious, so he decided to start an actual narrative. So nice of him. #sarcasm #truth
This was probably the most readable 100 pages I have come across so far. The level of violence and icky-ness has increased immensely, (violent fight and gunshot scene, maiming of dogs, sodomizing of a child) but I guess you can’t have everything.
I was poking around the internet and I came across this, It’s the speeches of the memorial service that was held for DFW. Jonathan Frantzen spoke and it was his section that I found interesting. It was this that got me:
For most of the time I knew Dave, the most intense interaction I had with him was sitting alone in my armchair, night after night, for ten days, and reading the manuscript of Infinite Jest. That was the book in which, for the first time, he’d arranged himself and the world the way he wanted them arranged. At the most microscopic level: Dave Wallace was as passionate and precise a punctuator of prose as has ever walked this earth. At the most global level: he produced a thousand pages of world-class jest which, although the mode and quality of the humour never wavered, became less and less and less funny, section by section, until, by the end of the book, you felt the book’s title might just as well have been Infinite Sadness. Dave nailed it like nobody else ever had.
I don’t know what it is about that passage, but it rings true AND it somehow puts the book in context for me. First of all, that Frantzen could have sat there and read the entire book in 10 days, is astonishing. But not the point.
The fact that DFW finally “arranged himself and the world the way he wanted them arranged” is mind boggling. Looking back and knowing what we know now of DFW, it is a bit of genius that he could have translated what was in his mind to the page like he did.
Frantzen is 100% correct in that it is totally (as they say) what is advertised on the tin: an Infinite Jest. You can like it, or not (me!), however, it is exactly as it should be. And the part about the humour never wavering and it becoming less and less funny: totally true! Although this book has very humorous parts (LOL funny to be honest) it’s not a happy book.
I think I have said it before, I wonder if it was better to have read this book before DFW died. I think that is one of the things, for me, that makes it even more difficult to read. Because you can tell this is so close to DFW, his thoughts and ‘his world’, it makes it even more dark and heartbreaking.
We have 300 pages to go. Godspeed.