Ashley's Reviews > Infinite Jest

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
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's review
Jan 21, 2012

it was amazing
Read in January, 2012

"Who's there?" <-- First two words of Hamlet
"I am" <-- "First" two words of Infinite Jest


It has taken me two attempts over the course of a full year to finish this novel. Attempt #2 required a resurrection of perhaps-too-close-of-a-read-type devices that I thought I'd left behind in grad school. Vocabulary lists, plot diagrams, extensive character notes in an almost-pretentious black moleskine.

It's strange to think of a story persisting through so many life events. The same characters, the same strange acronyms and almost-ridiculous plot points.

And the ending... to avoid spoilers, I'll just say I don't know what to think. But someone, please, message me with your thoughts.

[[[ UPDATE - Wow. I think I get (at least most of) it now. Unbelievable! ]]]

My copy is now a mix of boxed words I didn't (but now) know and under-scored one-liners I hope not to forget.

What jumps most directly to mind is an interview that Wallace had done with Charlie Rose about IJ(you can find it on YouTube). In it, he said he was surprised that most people who loved IJ, cited it's humor and it's warmth, though in his opinion it was a very lonely and sad and isolate book. There seems to be something about aptly spoken truths that can drive people to unnatural or unexpected reactions though. Wallace's Gately says that some questions are so brutal they literally force you to lie when answering them. I think this of Wallace's delivery of 'This is Water'. Here too, the crowd often laughs at a well-placed line while Wallace charges directly through, as though maybe surprised by the reaction itself.

Still, IJ did provide some lighter moments and some heavier ones of introspection too. I'm glad to have finished it, and will not be the same after having read it. I think that I am not yet done with it, need more time to reflect on it and sit with it's layers of metaphors and literary references and obsessions.

I can't imagine the burden to conceptualize and write such a thing. And perhaps even more so, the burden of finishing it.

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Quotes Ashley Liked

David Foster Wallace
“The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you.”
David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest

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Swan Let's talk about this book soon.

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