Tuesday, April 28, 2009
I often google search for the images I post here. One charming young grad student living in Brooklyn had a picture of her cat sprawled over infinite jest -- incidentally posted the day that DFW killed himself -- and little other mention of the book or Wallace -- does this demonstrate depravity of mind or vapidity?
I yesterday at work while particularly exhausted and dying to leave for the day overheard a discussion between two co-workers concerning the hefty tomes of modern literature, ulysses, and then, the book by the guy who killed himself, what was it called? what was it? uh... it was something... something... something... I was in the sort of bad-work-mood where you quarantine yourself off from others so I had to provide "infinite jest" at great risk to the bubble of silence I had steadily built around myself that day. Later coworker inquired about it, and I said I was reading it about 212 pages or so through and had taken a break to read other books. For some reason this conversation sent me back to IJ for another approx 50 pages -- it has been proven that yes, it can be read on the subway, though not while standing in a very crowded car.
This book is just so wonderful. Must power through to the end.
Some of the main characters in the book are the Incandenza family. Hal, specifically. The father has killed himself before the book began. Hal talks about it within his older brother who abandoned the family.
'Can I ask you who it was who found him? His - who found him at the oven?'
'Found by one Harold James Incandenza, thirteen going on really old.'
'You were who found him? Not the Moms?'
Hal reveals that his father killed himself by putting his head inside a microwave oven by using a drill bit and hack saw to cut a hole open in the door (so that it wouldn't not work because the door was open) and then packing aluminum foil around his neck.
'The B.P.D. field pathologist who drew the chalk lines around Himself's shoes on the floor said maybe ten seconds tops. He said the pressure build-up would have been almost instantaneous. Then he gestured at the kitchen walls. Then he threw up. The field pathologist.'
'Jesus Christ, Hallie.'
Writing this I can't help but be aware of numerous suicide references -- want to say that I am not dark but in fact find Infinite Jest to be transporting and enlivening and life-refreshing, essentially. That's why I have to write about it.
One other thing I've noticed is the joy of the end-notes. It's like when you see a little end note "83" a neuron leaps with joy and then you flip all the way to the back of this giant ugly book and then read for a few seconds or twenty minutes and then flip all the way back... it makes the book seem more physically alive, more fun. i wonder how you'd read it aloud.
Also want to say that this book is not unreadable in the slightest. In fact it's best-read rather quickly, with the pace of the prose. Its all very simple. but somehow it does buck your focus and sometimes you have to get a bead on it again. etc.
More continuing to come.