Sunday, June 2, 2013

Summer of Jest - You Have Been Warned

And but so, if you can't tell from the prose style into which I tend to drift on this blog, I'm kind of a fan of David Foster Wallace.* I like his fiction and his nonfiction (though I do tend to be somewhat partial to his fiction insomuch as I enjoy its autobiographical character in that it reminds me a lot of my own thought processes because our backgrounds, David's and mine, are not as dissimilar as some might think) and his in-between, but first and foremost, I like his weird blend of the two that is Infinite Jest. I am one of those first generation readers of same who spoke, as I staggered around Boston with a first edition hardcover copy of same in my ubiquitous backpack, of my "Infinite Jest cramp" and who enjoyed poring over the novel's minutiae with other Boston friends solely for the purpose of elucidating how Wallace wasn't entirely accurate as regards the street map of various areas of Alston and Cambridge and other bits of the Greater Boston Area but also agreed with them that the errors we found only made the book more endearing. Mostly.

So here's the point in the post wherein I refer you to Summer of Jest, an organized group read/re-read of my hero**'s breakout novel that kicked off today but which I only learned existed a scant two days ago.

But of course one of the participants is my beloved friend SJ, whose literary dumbassery I am generally somewhat powerless to resist. Witness last summer's non-stop sojourn through The Dark Tower, from which I am still recovering. But really, I love this book. I'd probably be up for doing this even if she weren't. Because David Foster Wallace. And all the rest.

So, if you haven't read this book, I will counsel you to ignore all my upcoming posts with "Summer of Jest" in their title, because they will probably be spoilery -- although really, of all the books I've loved this one is the least capable of being "spoiled" by a mere plot revelation or two, because the plot is only the smallest tiniest element of what is on offer here in this ridiculous, impossible, ponderous doorstop of awesome of a novel/stream of consciousness/meditation composed by a man I'd long dreamed of meeting someday and whose suicide on Sept 12, 2008 is a terrible, wrenching, horrible, soul-destroying milestone in my own dear personal life that dwarfs, say, Sept 11, 2001 and make of that what you will. I still cry like a baby every year now on that anniversary, and have yet to finish reading his posthumously published The Pale King because I can't bring myself to finally complete my first reading of his last bits of fiction. Instead I just read his nonfiction collections over and over and over again to the point where I have most of the essays by heart (and completely freaked out my Simpsons-loving little sister last summer when I hilariously overreacted to an episode I was seeing at her house for the first time ever, based on his famous cruise ship indictment*** "A Supposedly Fun Thing I Will Never Do Again"****). And about once every year or so, and yes, during the summer, I pull out my giant herniating hardcover of Infinite Jest and read it again, just to enjoy, just to admire. And yes, just to  be annoyed all over again.

Now, of course, with my completely ruined elbow tendons (all four of them, in each arm now!) I am reading it in ebook form again. How different will it be, I wonder? Stay tuned, true believers.

Stay tuned.

*And, more importantly, a frequent and not wholly conscious imitator of his style inasmuch as certain quirks of his have drifted into my own prose style, namely lots of footnotes in works of so informal and loose a character as being not wholly but almost entirely not the sort of thing that would normally employ footnotes, but hey, at least so far I've mostly managed to confine my footnotes to the length readers of modern Standard Written English generally consider to be normal footnote length, i.e. not a printed page long or longer, so far. So far.

**So okay, I have a lot of heroes. I am a child of my age. Deal.

***Oh dude. Every bit of poop cruise type news that hits my feeds, I wish he was around to hoot at in his erudite, eloquent, pathetic way.

****One of my friends from my Boston days, who may Tweet at present under the username of @Hoover_Dam, once seized the opportunity after a talk of his to thrust a Celebrity Cruise brochure under his nose to sign, only to be told with a sigh "I thought I was done with these." Poor guy.


  1. I love this book. In fact, it was IJ that started my super huge crush on DFW.

    I am so torn about Summer of Jest. I want to do it SO BAD, but I don't think I have time. I know it's only 11 pages a day, but I can't do just 11 pages a day of IJ. I told sj that I MIGHT be able to start in July and catch up. I don't know what to do. I'M SO TORN.

    1. Well do I feel your dilemma, because of course no one who loves this book can confine herself to just 11 pages in a sitting, I think.

      But really? Life is short, and this is a really cool opportunity to indulge a passion in a unique way. So, you know, that.

  2. Man, I am so jealous of people who read this in the 90s. Must have been a different experience - I read it last year, after DFW was gone, after we all know that 2009/2010 wasn't really like the world he created....

    1. Ahh, but they're not *really* 2009/2010; they're the Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment and the Year of Glad!

  3. I appreciate your sense of humor—
    Makes the summer of jest all that funner.


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