Discussing David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest

  • June 25, 2013 · 7:00 PM
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We can probably all agree to say that this is a long book. But will you also agree with the Newsday reviewer who wrote: "This book teems with so much life and death, so much hilarity and pain, so much gusto in the face of despair that one cheers for the future of our literature"?

Or will you be more likely to nod approvingly at the New York Times Book Reviewer who wrote: "If Mr. Wallace were less talented, you would be inclined to shoot him - or possibly yourself - somewhere right around page 480 of "Infinite Jest". In fact, you might anyway"?

And will you even finish it in time for the discussion? Rest assured, casualties and those who are still crawling to the finish line come Tuesday 25 June will be exceptionally welcome to share their encomiums and/or their disapprobation.

You can buy the book from Amazon here http://amzn.to/XDh0bL

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  • Liam D.

    Sorry I couldn't make this, just wondering what the general consensus was to this discussion?

    July 10, 2013

    • Richard I.

      Meeting notes just published here: http://www.meetup.com...­

      July 15, 2013

    • Liam D.

      Muchly appreciated

      July 15, 2013

  • Russell

    Finally finished this most wretched of marvelous tomes as I drove into sunny Slough this morning...

    1 · July 9, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    A much more interesting discussion than I anticipated -- better (not to mention more succinct) than the book in fact!

    1 · June 27, 2013

  • Russell

    Still think it's a 'Crackhead's Egg' - overall it's over boiled but parts of it are truly excellent! ;-)

    June 26, 2013

    • Richard I.

      ...or presumably eggs-cellent (I imagined you wouldn't want to have to make that pun yourself)

      June 26, 2013

  • Russell

    Quite enjoying listening to Mr Wallace's novel as I commute that most Ballardian or motorways, the M4. & then there's http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2012/09/12/this-is-water-david-foster-wallace/

    1 · May 23, 2013

    • Russell

      Just had a call from a recruitment agency as I drove in - I think the novel kept playing in the background while I tried to have a conversation. as I lost the connection & never heard back for some strange reason...;-)

      2 · June 25, 2013

    • Richard I.

      Presumably they went into a catatonic stupor.

      1 · June 25, 2013

  • Paul B.

    All right - as promised, here is the link to my very dubious speed-run of Infinite Jest. These are all scenes that I'm planning to incorporate into the discussion on the 25th, so if you are rapidly running out of time to read the full 1000+ pages, my hope is that you'll still feel comfortable participating!

    It comes to about 200 pages in total, and has suggestions in the notes for about 50 more if you wanted a little more info in certain areas. I haven't given a synopsis of the whole plot since it's easily found online, but it might be useful to have a basic framework in the back of your mind before reading the scenes in detail.

    Additionally there were 2 scenes I wanted to include, but couldn't find:
    - The story of Orin and Avril's dog (because I think it's narratologically important)
    - The bit with all the hats (because I think hats are funny)

    If I find them later I'll add them below, or maybe someone else can give a page no.


    Anyway:

    http://www.sendspace.com/file/bbbv79

    1 · June 15, 2013

    • Russell

      25th, 25th! Phew I thought it was next week & needed a mega listening this weekend!

      1 · June 15, 2013

    • Richard I.

      Paul's guide now also available without leaving this site! http://files.meetup.c...­

      June 18, 2013

  • Richard I.

    By the way, for those that missed it, there's a posting about an Infinite Jest reading group that's just started here: http://www.meetup.com/postmodernbookclub/messages/boards/thread/34327462

    June 7, 2013

  • Paul B.

    Hi guys - hope everyone is getting on well with DFW ahead of next month's meeting. I'm going to try my hand at formulating some kind of emergency abridged version over the weekend for those that are running short of time. However, it's come to my attention that page numbers on kindle editions do not always match up exactly (and often not even remotely) with the printed versions, and so I thought it would be wise to check, in case I need to source a new copy.

    So if somebody could just confirm whether or not 'Pre-Dawn, 1 May Y.D.A.U. - Outcropping Northwest of Tuscon AZ U.S.A., Still' starts on page 489, and begins with the line 'M. Hugh Steeply spoke quietly, after a prolonged silence of both operatives alone with their thoughts, upon the mountain'

    May 31, 2013

    • Richard I.

      Obfuscation? In a question about Infinite Jest? Why does this seem so wholly appropriate?

      June 1, 2013

    • Paul B.

      Thanks Magdalena!

      June 3, 2013

  • Meghan B.

    Not to overload anyone with DFW, but this is a pretty cool commencement speech he gave in 2005. Check it out if you're interested! It's only a few minutes, not, like, one-thousand pages ;). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xmpYnxlEh0c

    1 · May 9, 2013

    • Meghan B.

      Yes, I saw that yesterday actually. I believe Russell already reposted the same speech with a working link, though.

      June 1, 2013

    • Richard I.

      Ah, very good, hadn't realised it was the same thing!

      June 3, 2013

  • Alex

    I read this book a few years ago (and it took me ages and I read other books in between), but this site helped me at the time:
    http://faculty.sunydutchess.edu/oneill/Infinite.htm
    You may find it useful too.

    3 · May 31, 2013

    • Richard I.

      Thank you Alex, a useful link!

      June 1, 2013

  • Liam D.

    Cheers Alex, there's sections I've been meaning to reread but trying to find them was impossible. Muchly appreciated

    May 31, 2013

  • Perle

    I tried...I failed...it's just not happening. Have an enjoyable evening.

    May 10, 2013

    • Richard I.

      I suspect many readers throw this book against the wall in frustration at its apparently wilful obscurity. Try imagining the book is a disease which needs to be cured; keep going, find its vulnerabilities, and then come along and share the results of your research with us!

      May 12, 2013

    • Perle

      I suspect you're right - the bit about throwing the book against the wall, that is

      May 19, 2013

  • magdalena

    Got the book today. Will read 50 pages a day... should be done in about three weeks.

    2 · May 9, 2013

    • Richard I.

      Your ambition does you credit, Magdalena!

      May 10, 2013

  • Srabonti A.

    Think I need to start reading it now!

    1 · April 18, 2013

    • Richard I.

      Hope it's going well, Srabonti!

      May 8, 2013

  • Meghan B.

    I just finished this book, and can't wait to discuss it!

    1 · May 7, 2013

  • Russell

    Downloaded to phone, 10 weeks of commuting to get through it in audio alone!

    1 · May 8, 2013

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