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Infinite Jest

by: David Foster Wallace

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (1995)


Staff Pick by comrade: Lucas

Many things have been written about Infinite Jest, probably too many. But I am adding my two cents to the collection nonetheless.

Writing about this book is difficult: it is like trying to sum up a moment of my life, a passage of time, wherein so many things happened both within and without the book. This is something that anyone who perseveres and makes a little headway in this book quickly realizes: any attempt at a summation of this book is necessarily incomplete, any reading of this book is predicated on the reader (try explaining this book to your seatmate on the bus when they ask: they will ask) – something that could be said of any book, but in the case of Infinite Jest, due to its sheer volume alone, carries with it new implications. Having said that, this is only one person’s understanding of the book.

The first thing that the reader confronts when starting this book is just how fucking huge it is; carting it around feels like tending to a small animal: don’t forget it somewhere or you will never see it again; be aware of it’s needs and priorities, because it rarely takes yours into account; don’t neglect it for too long or it you might have to part with it for good. But once you have resigned yourself to never reading another book again – yeah, it feels like this sometimes – you are better off. The very process of reading such a book as this itself becomes the reason to read, no longer are you worried about getting to the end or hearing the conclusion of the tangle of plots that clutter these pages: you learn to take it page by page, not to get caught up in some vain desire to have already read it, some conceit of accomplishment, but to just read, just to live with it.

And in some ways this is what the book is about. Ostensibly, it is a book about a boy, Hal Incandenza, who lives at Enfield Tennis Academy, and a man, Don Gately, who lives at the halfway house down the hill from ETA, although they never meet...