Infinite Jest – David Foster Wallace discussion

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General Group Threads > The "I'm just not feeling it" thread

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message 1: by Mary (new)

Mary Let's face it, not everyone is going to love IJ. Post and share your not so enthralled comments here...


message 2: by Mark (new)

Mark (markmckeejr) Have you seen any interviews with DFW, Mary? He's an interesting person hisownself, but his story... I was expecting this to be a hard read but instead I've found stretches to be -- boring. And the endnotes, maybe one in twenty has given information I couldn't already glean from the story's text or context, so what's the point?

What hasn't worked for you?


message 3: by Mary (new)

Mary For me right now I'm just feeling lukewarm about IJ. I'm not hating it but I'm certainly not seeing what everyone seems to love about it...so far.

I think what's bothering me most is the lack of connection I'm feeling towards any of the characters...so far. The book rambles and rambles and it seems to be plot based and information based rather than character based. None of the characters feel real to me.

I'm at the supposedly critical mid 200's page point where it's meant to change/improve/come together. I haven't given up hope!

The end notes -- honestly most of them seem really unnecessary and pretentious. Yes I said it.


message 4: by Sunny (new)

Sunny (travellingsunny) Mary wrote: "For me right now I'm just feeling lukewarm about IJ. I'm not hating it but I'm certainly not seeing what everyone seems to love about it...so far.

I think what's bothering me most is the lack of ..."


Mary, this comic is right up your alley! :)


message 5: by Traveller (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 31 comments It's only starting to pick up for me around page 200. I hate all the drugs and tennis bits. The Quebecois bits are ok.. the spies are silly but cute.


message 6: by Mark (new)

Mark (markmckeejr) Ha, that's a great comic! Other than the footnote (view spoiler) I haven't found any of them worthwhile

Mary said: "I think what's bothering me most is the lack of connection I'm feeling towards any of the characters...so far. The book rambles and rambles and it seems to be plot based and information based rather than character based. None of the characters feel real to me." -- Exactly!! Egggggzactly!


message 7: by Mary (new)

Mary Sunny in Wonderland wrote: "Mary, this comic is right up your alley! :)
"


Bahahahahaaaaaaa! <3 that!


message 8: by Mary (new)

Mary Traveller wrote: "It's only starting to pick up for me around page 200. I hate all the drugs and tennis bits. The Quebecois bits are ok.. the spies are silly but cute."

I hateeeee the tennis bits.


message 9: by Mark (new)

Mark (markmckeejr) The drug scenes feel too much like rehash of 60s writers who did it better, and unless you're a diehard tennis fan (or maybe a diehard DFW fan) the tennis gets tedious fast!


message 10: by Mary (new)

Mary The drug scenes remind me of Naked Lunch and Naked Lunch is on my 'abandoned' pile :/


message 11: by Jazzmin (new)

Jazzmin | 4 comments I feel like I would have long since put the book down if I wasn't a tennis player who grew up with tennis coaches for parents. I can imagine that all of the tennis jargon must be maddening to people who aren't tennis players/fans.


message 12: by Mary (new)

Mary Jazzmin wrote: "I feel like I would have long since put the book down if I wasn't a tennis player who grew up with tennis coaches for parents. I can imagine that all of the tennis jargon must be maddening to peopl..."

Hi Jazzmin. Yes, I'm finding it (more than) a little tedious!


message 13: by Jerry (new)

Jerry Wolfram | 81 comments To all of you all who haven't made it to at least 225 pages.... if you make it to this part and still don
't "get it" or are still confused, or still puzzled, then i would say its just not for you... It does all come together, and the rewards are great if you persevere. I have read it twice now, just finished second time in December. And I find myself missing it. All I can say is stick with it.


message 14: by Jazzmin (new)

Jazzmin | 4 comments Hey there Mary, what gets me is the filmic/optical/technological/American football jargon. Oww, my brain.

And Jerry, thanks for that motivation, I'm halfway through and even though things have definitely come together, it's sometimes hard for me to continue reading through the denser, less action-filled parts (especially with the lure of a couple brand new books sitting on my shelf).


message 15: by Jerry (new)

Jerry Wolfram | 81 comments I am traditionally a pulp fiction, or junk fiction reader. I had seen The Pale King in costco, and had never read DFW, and started with that, so I was used to his plotting. But I have to say that IJ is if not my favorite book, its way up there in my top one!!!


message 16: by Mary (new)

Mary Jerry wrote: "To all of you all who haven't made it to at least 225 pages.... if you make it to this part and still don
't "get it" or are still confused, or still puzzled, then i would say its just not for you... It does all come together, and the rewards are great if you persevere. I have read it twice now, just finished second time in December. And I find myself missing it. All I can say is stick with it. "


Hi Jerry. I am not confused or puzzled, it's actually not a "hard" read as I was concerned it might be. I do get it, but I am definitely not enamored with the book. Some parts are really enjoyable, others I'm finding I simply don't like.


message 17: by Mark (new)

Mark (markmckeejr) The tennis parts do get a little tedious, but I try to envision my old college roommate as Hal, or any number of his buddies who use to visit as the other characters. They used to talk tennis when they were together for longer than five mins. The biggest problem I'm having post-300 is that Wallace uses summary instead of well-drawn scenes. It makes the story diluted by the over-abundance of information. Heh, heh, it replicates postmodern life, all of us in a sea of information; but it makes lengthy chunks of the novel snooze-inducing. The sad thing is, the characters can be relatable, but Wallace seems to try his best to render them secondary to the effluvia.


message 18: by Jerry (new)

Jerry Wolfram | 81 comments Mark wrote: "The tennis parts do get a little tedious, but I try to envision my old college roommate as Hal, or any number of his buddies who use to visit as the other characters. They used to talk tennis when ..."

I was never snooze induced, but my brain did get quite itchy at times on my first read. Best advise... stick with it...


message 19: by Macdaddysinfo (new)

Macdaddysinfo | 3 comments I would say that you need to get thought the first four hundred ages before it all starts to coalesce and hum along. the payoff is great, but I found those first several hundred pages to be quite tough going...


message 20: by Mark (new)

Mark (markmckeejr) Is there any particular thing that made you [Jerry, Macdaddysinfo, anyone who's enjoying it] say, Aha, now here we go!? Feel free to use the spoiler code. I'm 430p in and ready to dig up Wallace and bonk him on the head


message 21: by Garima (new)

Garima | 45 comments Mark wrote: "Is there any particular thing that made you [Jerry, Macdaddysinfo, anyone who's enjoying it] say, Aha, now here we go!? Feel free to use the spoiler code. I'm 430p in and ready to dig up Wallace an..."

I said 'Aha' from the very 1st page but around 700th page I went for a bigger 'aha'. So there!


message 22: by Mark (new)

Mark (markmckeejr) Actually, I said Aha from page 1-17, then it's been a steady slide downward


message 23: by Garima (new)

Garima | 45 comments Mark wrote: "Actually, I said Aha from page 1-17, then it's been a steady slide downward"

If you're not liking it till now then possibly you won't like it around the page no. I mentioned or a bit before that because that's when the whole thing starts falling into their respective places. The narration gets linear without making readers over working their brains. (view spoiler)


message 24: by Mark (new)

Mark (markmckeejr) What if you've already made those connections (before they're revealed) and still don't see what all the fuss is about? ;P


message 25: by Garima (new)

Garima | 45 comments Mark wrote: "What if you've already made those connections (before they're revealed) and still don't see what all the fuss is about? ;P"

Ha! then simply finish it and congratulate yourself on doing so. It's a pretty cool accomplishment as far as I know ;)


message 26: by Jerry (new)

Jerry Wolfram | 81 comments Mark wrote: "What if you've already made those connections (before they're revealed) and still don't see what all the fuss is about? ;P"

Mark wrote: "What if you've already made those connections (before they're revealed) and still don't see what all the fuss is about? ;P"

Garima wrote: "Mark wrote: "What if you've already made those connections (before they're revealed) and still don't see what all the fuss is about? ;P"

Ha! then simply finish it and congratulate yourself on doin..."

Can I ask... can you be a little more specific about why you are having so much trouble? Is it the long unending sentences and paragraphs? the seemingly unrelated storylines? the fact that maybe you don't care about the characters? WHAT? these are all common complaints I have heard in the past. My turning point was about page 200 to 250 w/r/t whether i felt it was going anywhere... but I have heard other people say different sections were their aha moment. W/r/t if you don't think its worth it, some people just cant Hang In. I had a problem like that with Gravity's rainbow, and have never gone back.


message 27: by Mary (new)

Mary If I had a penny for every time I was promised a magical payoff after hundreds of tedious pages...


message 28: by Jerry (new)

Jerry Wolfram | 81 comments well like it says above... it's not for everyone. I had already read The Pale King, as well as several short stories and essays before I started IJ and was familiar with DFW's style, but still found the early going difficult. Now on my 3rd time through I am seeing Conections way early, and I think the payoff really comes on subsequent reads.


message 29: by Mark (new)

Mark (markmckeejr) One of the things I'm having trouble parsing, and this has been since, say, 150 or so: How the heck does this book get so many five-star ratings?? I know it's a subjective thing, but honestly, it feels like some kind of let's-not-speak-ill-of-the-dead, or like when I was in grade school you weren't cool unless you drank Dr. Pepper (which I refused to do because it tasted like grass-roots). I've spoken with a few people who've told me to hang in there, but I'm to the point of wanting to know what it is that everyone finds so enlightening about this thing. What????

The storylines I'm having no trouble following. Since around 200 or so I've had a good idea where things were going--he pretty much tells you everything you need to know by that point--but it's like, So?? It's like some crummy espionage paperback. How does that inspire such adulation? The opening salvo was highly entertaining, as well as moving, but there has been zip in the way of true character building since then.

Related to that, I don't care for the way he writes. At ALL. His sentences are clumsy, he rambles way too much, the footnotes in three-quarters of the cases are worthless, he has no sense of character development, he writes in summary three-quarters of the time instead of scene, he introduces potentially interesting characters only to abandon them in favor of tripe.

With Gravity's Rainbow, there were times that I found it dense, but within 50-60 pages the denseness was explained with perfect clarity. After I was done, I felt like reading it all over again


message 30: by Garima (new)

Garima | 45 comments Mark wrote: "One of the things I'm having trouble parsing, and this has been since, say, 150 or so: How the heck does this book get so many five-star ratings?? I know it's a subjective thing, but honestly, it f..."

Hmmm..so you won't continue reading it then?


message 31: by Jerry (new)

Jerry Wolfram | 81 comments Mark wrote: "One of the things I'm having trouble parsing, and this has been since, say, 150 or so: How the heck does this book get so many five-star ratings?? I know it's a subjective thing, but honestly, it f..."

Wow, I dont know what to say, as I find quite the opposite. different strokes and all. W/rt GR I sometimes felt that Pynchon was writing just to fill the page with words. Havent read anything more by him, so... just saying. Plus I felt after the eating defication scene, he was purposely just tryint to push the whole gross-out envelope.


message 32: by Mark (new)

Mark (markmckeejr) In my hardheadedness, I'll prolly keep going, hoping for something to happen but not holding my breath.

Filling pages with words is how I've seen most of Jest. The Pudding scene in Rainbow was definitely Pynchon going for the gag reflex. But he was also attempting to combine (some might argue, elevate) low-brow humor by combining it with serious matters like constant threat of death from above, child-endangerment, colonialism. He dealt a lot with his characters' personal fetishes, both explained and unexplained. Slothrop's for the V-2 rocket. Pudding's for, er, pudding. The military commanders' for war itself.


message 33: by Jerry (new)

Jerry Wolfram | 81 comments well I truly hope you find it in IJ... it is definately in my top 1 or 2 books ever.


message 34: by Jerry (new)

Jerry Wolfram | 81 comments It is so easy for me to see the tongue in cheek humor on every page, the way DFW can turn a phrase, draw out a fall on a 1960 tennis court over 4 pages... his cinematic way of describing things... oh well


message 35: by Mark (new)

Mark (markmckeejr) Thanks, Jerry! Here's hoping! I wish I could say I've enjoyed DFW's humor, but most of it I've found pretty meh


message 36: by Elle (new)

Elle LaMarca (ellelamarca) | 4 comments I'm about 15% through IJ. I'm really glad I waited to read it until I got a Kindle. It makes the dealing with the endnotes much easier. While I often question, "Why am I reading this?", I'm going to push on and finish. I get the book; I get the humor, but also recognize that the style isn't some I really like. But, as a writer, I appreciate the skill it took to create such a tome.

My best advice for those that aren't really into it, but want to finish: Read other books while you read this one. If I was only reading IJ and could never take a break from the 2 page sentences and 10 page paragraphs, I doubt I'd make it. But, I've already read 3 other books while reading IJ, and I've found that "taking a break" and reading something lighter has helped break up the monotony.


message 37: by Macdaddysinfo (new)

Macdaddysinfo | 3 comments I guess somewhere around page four hundred, i got to the point where I saw how things were coming together, and I had a vested interest in the whole thing; I cared enough about the characters to enjoy reading on...

what was throwing me was all the disjointed stories that were told in such minute detail. I never got over the runon sentences and the gargantuan paragraphs. I did like the footnotes, though it took me a while to warm up to them.. reflecting now, I think the writing style itself turned me off at first, but once I got used to it, it seemed to not bother me and I could get lost in the story. the eschaton debacle is one of the most wonderful, laugh-out-loud experiences I have had reading in a very long time, if ever. I enjoyed the eta storyline. I liked the gately storyline. and joelle's. I was interested in hal's family. i also thought the aa sections were spot-on. the ending left me a bit put-off, but maybe that is by design-to have the reader loop back to the beginning (making the reader's experience "infinite," too). I still am a little confused about that, but maybe that is some of the beauty, in that good literature should make you think, and should linger after the story has been read-this is certainly the case here.

fwiw, I gave the book four stars, as it is better than a three-star effort, but not as good, imo, as a five-star title. ymmv.


message 38: by Macdaddysinfo (new)

Macdaddysinfo | 3 comments and ditto for the convenience of the ereader and the footnotes: iBooks has these hotlinked, so you clicked the footnote number to get to the note, and then clicked the number to get back to the main text. I can imagine these being a pita to deal with in an actual book...


message 39: by Jerry (new)

Jerry Wolfram | 81 comments Macdaddysinfo wrote: "and ditto for the convenience of the ereader and the footnotes: iBooks has these hotlinked, so you clicked the footnote number to get to the note, and then clicked the number to get back to the mai..."

not reqlly with a second bookmark, more of a feature than a pain. I was already used to massive fns and endnotes (thats actually what they are in IJ, fns in The pale king) and some of them were hilarious, as well as some of them being enlightening to the storyline. my tree copy is filled with margin notes, not so much with my nook, which I am using for my 3rd read


message 40: by Mark (new)

Mark (markmckeejr) Thanks for your insight, Macdaddysinfo! I agree, the Kindle does make it a lot easier for the notes, not to mention a lot easier on the wrists!


message 41: by Jason, Himself (new)

Jason (ancatdubh2) | 147 comments So far I agree with Puma but I'm only at 30% and I think there's a chance still for this to blow me away. I do like it, but yeah...it may have been over-hyped.


message 42: by Jason, Himself (new)

Jason (ancatdubh2) | 147 comments Mike wrote: "Do you kinda wonder if some people (not our friends, of course), at some point just decided: the hell with it, gave it five stars, and shelved it unfinished?"

No, I've been honestly thinking that there's some sort of major epiphany upon completing this book that profoundly affects people's star rating (moving it toward the five). I guess we'll see, though. I keep having to put it down to read other books (because I'm in a book club) but one day I will finish it. =)


message 43: by Ian (new)

Ian "Marvin" Graye | 7 comments I think our expectations can place too much pressure on a book or an author.

It's like expecting Tiger Woods to birdy every hole and win every game (and bed every birdy?).

Sometimes you just have to accept that parts of their performance will be merely adequate, but not mindblowing.

We just have to stand back from the Rough and aim to see the Woods for the Trees.


message 44: by Ian (new)

Ian "Marvin" Graye | 7 comments Jason wrote: "No, I've been honestly thinking that there's some sort of major epiphany upon completing this book"

The epiphany happens about half way through and he just juggled the order so we wouldn't realise ;)


message 45: by Jerry (new)

Jerry Wolfram | 81 comments actually, imho, there are several small epiphanies, and some good oh nos, but if you are looking for a real epiphany, it sure doesnt come at the end... it comes in the beginning, if you know what I mean...


message 46: by Ian (new)

Ian "Marvin" Graye | 7 comments That's very true.


message 47: by Jerry (new)

Jerry Wolfram | 81 comments dont plan on the book ending on what ever page your ereader, or tree reader says you are done on, the real ending is about page 70? 100? if you can stop there...


message 48: by Ian (new)

Ian "Marvin" Graye | 7 comments I had to extract myself from the book and make up my review.


message 49: by Aubrey (new)

Aubrey (korrick) Jerry wrote: "dont plan on the book ending on what ever page your ereader, or tree reader says you are done on, the real ending is about page 70? 100? if you can stop there..."

Exactly.
In other words, ending? You think that there's an ending? Ha.


message 50: by Jerry (new)

Jerry Wolfram | 81 comments dont hold back Mike, tells how you really feel...lol


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