Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Summer of Infinite Jest -- 1

On the urging of my friend Katia, we're both reading Infinite Jest this summer. I picked it up on Saturday after seeing it in the window of a local bookstore. It was a new copy, the proprietor said -- "we hardly ever get it used." I guess if you finish it, you want people to know it and you put it on your shelves. But it's odd that there aren't a bunch of used copies out there from people who never finished it.

It's a thousand-plus pages. I'm not intimidated by very large books, having read Underworld, 2666 and The Savage Detectives, Europe Central, and all three volumes of Your Face Tomorrow, a magnum opus by Javier Marías. And yes, they are all proudly on my shelves.

I'm up to about page 70 of Infinite Jest, and I'm learning about this surreal tennis academy and the Incandenza family. Also there seems to be some kind of comic subplot having to do with a union between the U.S. and Canada and a Quebecois separatist movement. And there is some odd obfuscation by the author regarding video storage and viewing technology, perhaps under the assumption that any technology he wrote about would soon be obsolete and would date the book, so he made up something that was slightly off having to do with "cartridges."

I happened to read something today that said Don Gately was the central character, which seems strange since so far it seems Hal Incandenza, the youngest of his family and an obvious stand-in for the author, is the main character.

So far I admire the effort. I'm skipping just a little bit when I decide I don't need every single detail of a character's perceptions of the setting, which is something the author really extends.

No comments: