Boxall's 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die discussion

Infinite Jest
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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

So I'm coming in on the end of Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace and I'm beginning to think it's one of the three greatest books I've ever read and I just wondered if anybody else has read it and what they thought of it? Sha'lom!


message 2: by El (new) - rated it 4 stars

El I read it, didn't care for it, but still gave it 4 stars. It drove me nuts, but I finished it and was glad I did. And it has stayed with me. My slightly drunken review here, if you're interested.

Just out of curiosity, what do you consider the other two greatest books you've read?


Craig | 241 comments One of my all time favorites as well. I have read it twice and plan to read it again. It gets better with time and repetition. I find it hard even to pick my favorite parts or characters. They all have such appeal. Standout scenes for me are: Erdedy waiting for drugs to be delivered, Lenz and his odd and disturbing habit of animal torture, the Gately vs. the world fight near the end, the Wheechair Assassins, and Eschaton. Wallace will be sadly missed. RIP.


Cindy (newtomato) | 196 comments I read this last year, and it was quite an.... experience. I could imagine re-reads would probably come across completely differently. There are so many different threads and subplots within subplots, that details might jump out that didn't gel with me the first time.

But if I never read another word about tennis it will be too soon.


Craig | 241 comments I am not a huge tennis fan, not even a small one. I did read an essay by Wallace about a semi-pro or pro tennis player and loved the essay. Maybe it is Wallace's style, prose, etc, but I would never have predicted I could say a good thing about an essay about tennis until I read that essay.


Cindy (newtomato) | 196 comments I've heard from several people now that Wallace's non-fiction writing - magazine articles and the like - are really excellent. Someday when I have time (ha!) I'll have to track some of those down.


message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

I'd say Gravity's Rainbow by Pynchon was sitting pretty high on the list, probably definitely Number One for me.

And maybe I loved IJ because it has so much in common with Gravity's Rainbow, what with the kind-of sometimes-horrific, ridiculous comedy-subplots that nevertheless kind-of add to this whole mad maelstrom of humanity that he's trying to put forward in the book, and they both kind of revolve around the ultimate Macguffins, and they both seem pretty much unreadable until you actually sit down and read them.

But Infinite Jest is just....unexplainable, I guess. I was trying to sit down and explain what it's all about to my girlfriend last night and in the end, after about 6 minutes of me babbling on and on about Quebec Separatism and avante-garde-film-lenses-as-a-some-kind-of-metaphor-for-how-we-see-the-world-subjectively and tennis rankings, she just looked at me and said, "It sounds really fucking boring."


Ellie (elliearcher) I'm reading IJ now so it's good to read people who have actually read it. I can see how it could become almost an addiction in itself (like the eponymous film). I'm already starting to read books ABOUT IJ. Soon I'll probably be reading books about books about IJ. And so on. It's hilarious, exhausting & kind of flippin' endless but I'm trying not to get discouraged. It might become my single read for next year!


Craig | 241 comments There was a group from last year? or the year before that? The group congregated online to discuss IJ and read along with somewhat of a schedule. It was called Infinite Summer. I read IJ a second time along with this group. There were great and insightful discussions generated from this group. I don't believe it is functioning, but one may still check out the posts and info at the site: infinitesummer.org


Ellie (elliearcher) I love the title-I will definitely check it out. There is a group dedicated to IJ so it maybe the group morphed into that. There's not a lot of activity on the site, though.


message 11: by Tom (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tom | 24 comments Any thoughts about the really incredibly inaccurate little essay published in the book 1001 BOOKS YOU MUST READ BEFORE YOU DIE? It was clearly written by someone who had not read the book.


message 12: by El (new) - rated it 4 stars

El I haven't read that essay myself, Tom, but I've heard others make similar comments. I've seen inaccurate blurbs on other books in other publications like 501 Must-Read Books. Makes me wonder.


Cindy (newtomato) | 196 comments Tom wrote: "Any thoughts about the really incredibly inaccurate little essay published in the book 1001 BOOKS YOU MUST READ BEFORE YOU DIE? It was clearly written by someone who had not read the book."

I've been thinking I need to go check out the actual book precisely for this reason. I see my library has a copy.


Ellie (elliearcher) I'm reading Infinite Jest for my Book Addicts' group challenge read. I'm loving it, except it's incredibly slow going. Is that a contradiction in terms? I mean, the pace is manic fast but I get exhausted after a few pages, especially what with all the footnotes & just general hyperactivity of it all, so I have to stop & rest!
I guess I have to go check out that essay though. Right now, it's all things IJ for me.
And may be for a while, at the rate I'm going. :)


message 15: by Drew (new) - rated it 5 stars

Drew Almost certainly my favorite book of all time. I'm not sure how many times I've read it now, but I read it about once a year. Gravity's Rainbow is probably the only other book I've read that approaches it. I think part of the reason why I personally like IJ so much is that the voice is so close to my own; reading it is like being talked to by a friend, so that took care of any initial difficulty the book may have posed, if that makes sense. I also grew up with the sort of Pemulis-like, hyper-educated kid phenoms, so I sort of identified with those guys.


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