Literaturus interruptus

February 19, 2003 at 5:30 pm (General)

So, heading to the Christmas vacations, knowing that I had to spend at least one evening with the family unit, I was searching for something to read. Upon a recommendation, I picked up David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest. Now, in soft cover, this thing is over 1000 pages long, about 100 of which are 5-pt endnotes.
Ah, the endnotes: not in any way, shape or form relevant to the book, they’re more descriptions of various drugs or addtional subplots to an already convoluted story. The story? Well, um, let’s see.
– There’s a tennis academy founded by a filmmaker who committed suicide by sticking his head in a microwave oven,
– one of his sons went from tennis to becoming an NFL punter and Don Juan,
– another son (in the academy) who’s a sort of tennis prodigy when he’s not blowing his mind on substances,
– a once-beautiful woman who’s been disfigured by acid,
– a bunch of Québec mercenaries who have previously lost their legs by jumping under trains,
– other Canadian pseudo-terrorists,
– cross-dressing semi-CIA operatives,
– a mysterious video that turns viewers into vegetables,
– myriad dregs of Boston society,
– AA and NA meetings,
– and, and, nothing.
That’s just it. For almost two months, reading about two hours per day, I slowly worked my way through. Everything was finally starting to come together, the story was slowly approaching its dénouement. I was in the metro last night, really grooving on how all these storylines were coming together, turn a page and
nothing.
Not a wit. Just the endnotes. Over 900 pages of muddling my way through Pynchon-esque, precocious prep-school writing, only to be left hanging. There I was, frantically turning the pages yesterday evening, hoping that I had screwed up somewhere along the line, that however messy, at least one storyline could be resolved. That’s like the tape getting chewed up in the middle of Behind the Green Door.
Regardless, an interesting interpretation of Hamlet.

Update:The Onion has a great spoof on the writing of Foster Wallace.

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