With this book, I learned to really hate the man. Time after time he has the chance to be a decent human being, and instead purposefully goes into fur...moreWith this book, I learned to really hate the man. Time after time he has the chance to be a decent human being, and instead purposefully goes into further cruelty and depravity. If given a trial, he'd likely be unable to have insanity as a defense, which is both amazing and further horrifying.
Approaching the end of this book, I thought Mao would mellow (with 75 pages left, supposedly this happens around the time he meets Nixon), and I became happy at the idea, but around page 500 I learned otherwise. As he approached the end of his life, he became even more brutal and despotic via the Cultural Revolution. He wanted the world to be the same as his concrete, beauty-less one floor bomb-proof nuclear bunkers that he lived in, with everyone groveling below him. That, then, shows him to be the ultimate egoist and megalomaniac : if it's not related to him somehow, then destroy it.
What is surprising, though, is that with the trial of Liu and other situations in the book, Mao is made to go through elaborate processes of getting rid of certain people. Having an evidence team torture dozens of people, trying to get information against Liu seems to me to show the weird nature of his rule. He wanted to be a dictator, more like fascism, but there was a consitution for the CCP and to me its strange to read about the lengths he had to go to in order to get his way sometimes. If he can go against everyone's wishes and
The other sad thing is that this shows the few number of people that were courageous enough to go against Mao during the Famine. It puts into perspective the 'tough votes' that politicians in the US go against because they are more concerned with keeping their jobs than with doing the right thing. This is the same kind of thing, but so much more extreme than it here--the pol's there were concerned with keeping their jobs than with the lives of tens of millions of people--seems (our politicians' reluctance to take one for the team) nearly forgivable.
I will be glad to see the last pages. It's sad to know he's still so revered, though I've heard that there was a period of history, after he died but before the mythologizing era began, where the Party people had to apologize for the harm they let Mao do.
Very lovely, lots of interesting, funny, profound pieces scattered on each page. Listened to the audio version and it was a lovely start and finish to...moreVery lovely, lots of interesting, funny, profound pieces scattered on each page. Listened to the audio version and it was a lovely start and finish to each work day during my commute.(less)
I gave this book as a gift having reading all the essays but the literary ones. I gave the book on the strength of the others--and in an attempt to br...moreI gave this book as a gift having reading all the essays but the literary ones. I gave the book on the strength of the others--and in an attempt to bring a new fan into the DFW fold before being overly alienated by his fiction and thusly lost before acquiring the taste-- but I just read them and were blown away by the Usage and the Dostoevsky one. Now I'd give the book out with the intention of sharing just those.
Dave is a good example of the too-great fixation on the novel as the measure of a writer. He did two great ones, and one great unfinished one that took ten years and was one of the primary reasons he took the fatal mistep of getting off his depression medication. He thought he needed his senses sharpened more before he'd have the prescience of mind to surpass the success of IJ*. He acknowledged that he would have been happier to continue with this nonfiction thing, since it flowed effortlessly for him. And I'd sure have liked another dozen volumes like this one.
One thing that was strange is how little he traveled. In my life as one of the globalized generation, I've seen travel as a prerequisite before any kind of intellectual fomenting can be given much consideration. But in a video from the 2000s, you seem him stunned at finding himself for the first time (and in his 40s) in a country where English is not the primary language. The breadth of experience and degree of observation is such that you feel as if the guy had lived several lives and had remembered and processed several times the minutes of each.
*In a lot of ways The pale king did that, in the same way that FREEDOM surpasses The Corrections, with both authors' styles becoming leaner and more pinpoint. Or, maybe not call it leaner, but instead more focused. At the same time, IJ for me remains the more beloved of the two because he waxes more freely. (less)
SO, two epiphanies earlier today, one minor and one major. 1) Philosophy -wise, 2) What about the hill? ETA and E...more**spoiler alert** Second time through:
SO, two epiphanies earlier today, one minor and one major. 1) Philosophy -wise, 2) What about the hill? ETA and Ennet House? I used to see it as, this tennis academy is the factory that makes the unhappy drug addicts of later. They start, they try to reach the heights (they're literally on a hill, described around page 150 as being at a 70 degree angle. But reading this book again, I'm reevaluating what I think, and so something came to me today: with one, it is very much people that are taking the long-road to happiness. The ''this sucks now but later it'll make me happy''. Whereas the second are people that in the past have taken the, ''this is the quick-road to happiness''.
Seen another way, you could say they are both sets of people that are actively killing their present happiness. One group because they have to-- once you're in AA/CA, etc., you either get sober or you die, and it's not a lot of fun. The other, it's not it's not as obligatory, but they make think of it that way.
I kind of feel that the tennis academy can be a positive force, but it's a very fragile possibility. You have to have the right kids, with the right attitude, the right means of support. The rest leave or are broken by the time they finish. According to the Urine trouble? Urine luck! -scene, the ones that need clean urine is 25 percent. Then you figure it's that many more that are deeply unhappy but are not resorting to chemicals just yet. Or more? Seemingly John Wayne and The Darknes are the most normal ones there, but... is that just because at this moment they are playing extremely well? That they may find themselves taking the Pemulis route, who himself was a tennis prodigy until the others caught up and he fell behind... Lots to think about.
The same section of the book has one of my favorite lines, where he takes a common saying and rewords it so that it's half-veiled and you might miss it if you're going too fast.
''he nearly lost it by a very small dento-dermal layering'' Meaning? Only by the skin of his teeth did he not lose it.
The short story OBLIVION is the best, though, where he very actively points our attention to the strange and halfway nonsensical things we say, where he's using quote marks at anything that is not literally accurate.
This is one of the bigger questions raised in the book, and you see it nowadays in the media with issues like the Tiger Mom debate.
''The reviewers seemed to get it all wrong. I wanted to make a really sad, cohesive book, and they seem to think its all funny and disjointed.'' For me, yes, I laughed a lot, but the kind of laughs that I've never goten anywhere else: laughing and feeling very guilty about laughing at the same time. And you can take Hal's story and te drug rehab part and make it a very clear trajectory from one to the other. But its certainly super-tragic and so human, to me. Damn.
The less you know the better, for sure . It does explain everything but let it do it, not someone else.
I first heard of this book when I read in TIME about the Infinite Summer, the 2009 summer online communal reading that got so many new people interested in reading the work.
The Dave Eggers intro is especially good -- I try to stay away from intros until I am at or near the end of the book. He describes this one as Proustian. I feel like that is a good adjective for all of the Hysterical Realists.
But for me, the bigger similarity is with Dante. The Yale class on Dante , their professor mentions how Dante meant for his book to be a sort of encyclopedia of everything the students needed to be a good Middle Ages scholar. ; the lives, the lessons, the ideas, the values, the language, the vision of this place. We do the samething, but we do it in Boston, via DFW.
On a physical level, this is one that becomes part of your scenery for so long -- you use it as a pillow, it stares at you menacingly, it's an Everest you cross, but even as you scale it you wish it wouldn't end. Probably every copy gets destroyed by the end of the first or second read. Holding it is different than to have it on my Kindle (i have it in both places).
----- NO! It erased all of my updated review. So to summarize that quickly:
-wow, wow. -I figure it took me 80 hours (five minutes a page), but they were hours lovingly spent --picked up steam after the first 500 pages, then read straight through. --helps to think of it as a collage that doesnt require a grand unifying theory of everything. So, in that sense it actually doesnt ask too little of you. but its fun when you can connect the dots. why pick up steam? Specifically, when he divulged more info on the concavity and its drastic changes. Then everything else has more meaning. --ill be glad to go through this again, not necessarily straig ht thru but di pping into it here and there. its very much a love or hate book, but that's perfectly fine. i loved it and am happy i stuck with it. I almost never was bored. every sentence does have muscle and literary interest.
The title is a sly wink at the book's massive girth—it's 1,000-plus pages in most editions—but the reference to Hamlet is well-earned; moreover, it's a damn funny book. The action takes place in Boston at two separate but curiously similar venues—an elite tennis academy and a drug rehabilitation facility—in a near future in which calendar years are available for corporate sponsorship (the Year of the Trial Size Dove Bar, the Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment, and so on). The plot of Infinite Jest—which revolves around, among other things, a lost, unwatchably beautiful art film and a conspiracy among wheelchair-bound Quebecois secessionists—is decidedly secondary to the painfully funny dialogue and Wallace's endlessly rich ruminations and speculations on addiction, entertainment, art, life and, of course, tennis.