Book review of sorts

So I've finally finshed Infinite Jest. It took me a few hours under six weeks, which I think is about right. I need more people to read it, and no one else will, and Scott and I are not going to be able to figure out what the hell was going on by just talking to each other. If you have a birthday coming up, you're getting Infinite Jest. Just ask Rich. I think Anna's the next winner, but I really doubt she made it through V., which I gave her late for last Christmas. But then I never made it through The Magic Mountain, which she gave me, so I certainly can't criticize her. Except to say that V. is a good book.

But, anyway, Infinite Jest. As mentioned, I'm not one for reviews. Saying that Infinite Jest is about addiction and tennis in like saying that Gravity's Rainbow is about love and rockets–it's true, sort of, but it's not so much the point. There's so much to be had from just the reading the book. Each of the little sections that could stand alone (and have, apparently–the title page of the book mentions that portions had previously appeared in your usual vectors of literary short fiction) are not as random as they might seem to a reluctant reader, and while it may take a couple of hundred pages to figure out how the isolated actions fits into the main plot (and it doesn't always), they all fit into the book, which is something all together other than the plot.

Wallace did a wonderful job of creating a universe within, and while I'm not one for comparing and contrasting with the World s We Know It or drawing any lessons from that, what I think is remarkable about the universe is how completely fractured and inscrutable without the illusion of reality suffering. Which is to say: it doesn't matter that the book never resolves anything, or only goes as far as hinting at resolutions, leaving fundamental What the fuck just happened? questions answerable only by random theories. Which is to say: I was left with a uncertainty about what happened when it comes to just about every thread of the plot, but I don't view that as a failure in Wallace's storytelling. I just need to accept that there's some reality he's conceived, and certain things happen and they're conveyed, and other things happen and they're not conveyed, and that's that.

It pulls off the neat trick of having all the important (implied) exposition and whatever might amount to a climax in the first chapter, but does so in a way that could not possibly ruin the rest of the book, even if you can remember the contents of the first chapter by the time you're on page 981. It's a neat feeling to finish a book, wish for an additional chapter, and be able to turn back to the beginning and get your wish.

Anyway, so that's done. My back is grateful for not having to lug it around any more. Next is Tours of the Black Clock; Infinite Jest interrupted my Steve Erickson kick, whom no one else really seems to like, but who I think is wonderful.


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