Infinite Summer 2014 discussion

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Reading Notes > Through p. 63

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message 1: by Troy (new)

Troy  (tramsay) | 30 comments Here is a quote I love, it's on pg 53 if you are following along at home:

"Some persons can give themselves away to an ambitious pursuit and have that be all the giving-themselves-away-to-something they need to do. Though sometimes this changes as the players get older and the pursuit more stress-fraught. American experience seems to suggest that people are virtually unlimited in their need to give themselves away, on various levels. Some just prefer to do it in secret.


message 2: by Ruthiella (new)

Ruthiella Meghan wrote: "Some thoughts from my reading:

—Why "Year of Glad"?

—Has Hal had a stroke or something? Why can't people interpret his facial expressions? Why don't they understand him when he speaks? I honestl..."


I am only on page 26, but I wonder if Hal’s condition has anything to do with the mold he ate as a child? Also, speaking of Hamlet, Prince Hal, right?

I can’t help but think of DFW as Hal. Have you ever seen him interviewed? He seemed, in the two interviews I have viewed on you tube, so uncomfortable speaking and worried whether he was making sense or saying too much. So I wonder if the interview scene with Hal is DFW extrapolating the discomfort he felt during interviews.


message 3: by Ruthiella (new)

Ruthiella Oops. Prince Hal is Henry V!


message 4: by Troy (new)

Troy  (tramsay) | 30 comments Meghan wrote: "That's a great quote, Troy.

Are the chapter headings corporate sponsorships? That's not rhetorical; if someone knows, I'd like it confirmed or denied."


Yes. Each year is subsidized by a corporate sponsor for tax revenue.


message 5: by Ruthiella (last edited May 26, 2014 03:20PM) (new)

Ruthiella Well, I have reached page 63 and I have no idea what is going on, but I am not particularly bothered by my lack of comprehension. I did note repeated references to Toblerone. Is it the shape of the chocolate (pyramids) that appeal to the math whiz or is it just a tasty candy bar or is there some other significance to be revealed later? I get the feeling that the point of the book (if there is one) is going to be a slow reveal 500 pages or so from now. How will tennis prodigies, film cartridges, a militant Quebecois separatist terrorist group etc. hang together?

The one bit that TOTALLY threw me for a loop is the entry in slang (eubonics?) in the Year of the Trial Size Dove Bar (is that the soap or the chocolate). It was jarring.


message 6: by Troy (new)

Troy  (tramsay) | 30 comments That scene is almost like a jump-cut in a movie. I think the reason it was put in was to link other characters fears, especially female characters and how they are treated. For instance how the attache's wife is treated more or less like property.


message 7: by Kristen (new)

Kristen (keds723) Having just finished my re-read of Hamlet and almost immediately starting I.J., I can attest to the remarkable similarities. I've only read to about page 30, but during the introductory chapter I noticed quite a few similarities. It seemed quite obvious after the mention of the grave digging--speaking of skulls and dead fathers. His uncle is totally Cladius, but I definitely saw a few parallels in the "diagnosis" of Hal's madness. Hal seems to slip in and out of his madness, as suggested by his uncle (the comment about an athletic savant compared to his psychotic babbling), as Hamlet often does. Hamlet is often misunderstood by the adults, and is quite judgmental of the elders around him. There are many more ideas swimming in my head now, but I'm going to read further and return (probably with many questions!)


message 8: by Paula (new)

Paula (paula-j) | 27 comments My first thought about Hal's "madness" was that it was the result of brain injury due to accident (on the tennis court?) or drugs. The sudden and dramatic change in grades, certain hints in those conversations that something had happened to him, but we aren't told what. Considering the significant part drugs play in Wallace's books, I'm going with drugs.


message 9: by Troy (new)

Troy  (tramsay) | 30 comments Hal says to call it something he ate. Then we have that flashback to when he was a kid and he ate that mold and sent The Moms into hysteria. Is Hal behavior at Arizona related to this traumatic childhood experience? If so what does that mean for the character and how he lives his life, how others view him? Does any of this have anything to do with that weird meeting with Himself in disguise?


message 10: by Kristen (last edited May 28, 2014 01:09PM) (new)

Kristen (keds723) The first Orin chapter has me intrigued--that bird is straight out of Hamlet for one. I also noticed that both Hal and Orin have some sort of injury to their legs. Not sure what happened there yet.

I've also noticed a lot of opera being mentioned. I might be reading into this (I'm a musicologist, so I really want this to be a thing...). The medical attache mentions seeing enough uvula after watching an opera on the TP, then Mario mentions Hal couldn't stop watching "Tosca" after his father's death, and then Orin mentioned he lived next door to an opera singer. Be on the look out for me! :D

My favorite quotation so far: "I have administrative bones to pick with God, Boo. I'll say God seems to have a kind of laid-back management style I'm not crazy about. I'm pretty much anti-death. God looks by all accounts to be pro-death. I'm not seeing how we can get together on this issue, he and I, Boo." (Hal on pg. 40)


message 11: by Ruthiella (new)

Ruthiella Kristen wrote: "The first Orin chapter has me intrigued--that bird is straight out of Hamlet for one. I also noticed that both Hal and Orin have some sort of injury to their legs. Not sure what happened there yet...."

I love that quote too Kristen.

I think that both Orin and Hal have grotesquly larger than normal right legs and arms due to tennis playing.


message 12: by Paula (last edited May 28, 2014 01:48PM) (new)

Paula (paula-j) | 27 comments I love Mario. And that conversation between Mario and Hal is priceless - as was the story of Don Gately ("...with a massive and almost perfectly square head he used to amuse his friends when drunk by letting them open and close elevator doors on")and the A.D.A. who was "coldly biding his time, being a patient Get-Even and Cold-Dish man just like Don Gately".

I'm really enjoying this book!


message 13: by Kristen (new)

Kristen (keds723) I am reading a companion guide along with IJ in which the author mentions blue as a recurrent theme, but the more u read, the more I find that the primary colors seem to be mentioned quite often. I'm not sure how important this is, if at all, just something that's been on my mind!


message 14: by Meagan (new)

Meagan | 25 comments This is my third attempt at IJ, so I'm still in a section I've read before, but I'm noticing new things thanks to comments here. So many food / eating references, and ways that eating leads to problems. Toblerone, Orin's honey toast, Hal eating the mold, Himself-in-disguise's insistence that Hal have a soda. I don't know what they mean yet, if anything.

In reference to the sponsored years, they get easier to follow once you've read the James O. Incandenza Complete Filmography in footnote 24.


message 15: by Kristen (new)

Kristen (keds723) Meagan wrote: "This is my third attempt at IJ, so I'm still in a section I've read before, but I'm noticing new things thanks to comments here. So many food / eating references, and ways that eating leads to pro..."

DEFINITELY. I'm thinking it has something to do with the drug references too--teeth/mouths, drug abuse (mostly oral), food, etc.

Sometimes I find the extreme abundance of themes and motifs a bit too much. Like I'm being force fed (a meager pun) the symbols repeatedly.


message 16: by Meghan (new)

Meghan Nacke | 4 comments Troy wrote: "That scene is almost like a jump-cut in a movie. I think the reason it was put in was to link other characters fears, especially female characters and how they are treated. For instance how the att..."

I definitely agree that these sections focus on the treatment of women. I think this section also addresses beauty as a liability and a somewhat dangerous attribute. The idea of "fatal beauty" is addressed here and will be addressed later in the book.

In this instance, the speaker is referring to Wardine whose beauty has caused her to be targeted by a predator and perceived as a threat by her mother. In the following section, Mildred Bonk is described as being "fatally pretty".

The idea of lethal or fatal beauty is also briefly mentioned as a theme of some of J.O.'s films in endnote 24 - specifically the films Medusa vs the Odalisque and Mobius Strips.


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