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has anyone here read Infinite Jest?  RSS feed

 
Cassie Langstraat
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I fucking love david foster wallace. One of my professors gave me a copy of This is Water as a graduation present and I've been hooked on DFW ever since. I am about 100 pages into Infinite Jest and I am strugggggling. Well not really struggling more than any other dense philisophical novel I've read, but this is the first big complex one I've read outside of college so I guess what I am having a hard time with, is not having anyone to talk to about it with. None of my friends have read it or would even want to so I was curious if any of you have read it, or are currently reading it.

It's a trip. But I am loving it.

Also, this is hilarious: This is What Happens When You Read Infinite Jest for the First Time.
 
Cassie Langstraat
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come on..... NO ONE?
 
William James
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I studied in the ISU English department when David was around. Saw him in the halls on multiple occasions but I never took a course with him. Sat in on a speech he gave to about 30 people, sat a few seats away from him at a master's thesis reading, had a friend who was in love with him and always hung out with him, had a professor who wrote an article about him. He moved to California to teach on a Disney grant about a year before I left. I always thought that part was weird.

I was absolutely floored when he died. I was told he had some demons he couldn't get rid of.

I've always wanted to read Consider the Lobster.

Infinite Jest seems to be one of those books an English major would love. Not really light reading. Since finishing my master's degree, I rarely read fiction or dense books - I'm still reeling 10+ years on from all the stuff we had to read - like 6 years of cerebral boot camp. Plus I have come to regard the vast majority of literature as unforgivable. Sort of like the way one might regard politics as being unforgivable.

I have heard that Infinite Jest is really funny, for what it's worth. If you're into math he also wrote a very dense book on infinity, his parents were math professors I think. I helped edit a review of that book when it came out.
William
 
Cassie Langstraat
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I was an english major in college....you caught me.. hahah Which is why I am grooving on it so much, because it's the first challenging novel I have read since I graduated.. I sort of had a book hangover for a few months after graduating where I didn't read anything hard, but I started to miss it. And now I can't find anyone to talk about it with which is driving me insane!

His little book "This is Water" was a commencement speech to a group of liberal arts majors and I recommend it to anyone who hasn't read his stuff. Because it isn't really "dense" per say. But eh, I hate math. I am just going to struggle through Infinite Jest on my own!

So cool you saw him in the halls..

Most good writers have some sort of demons they can't get rid of.
 
Aaron Festa
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Cassie Langstraat wrote:come on..... NO ONE?
I have a strict policy not to read books written after 1900.
 
Cassie Langstraat
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Aaron Festa wrote: I have a strict policy not to read books written after 1900.


Hahah are you being serious? Or just joking? Hard to tell over forums..
 
Matt Powers
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I read it with a bunch of friends at NYU and we discussed it together.

It was something that intimidated our professors that we were reading, enjoying & understanding it.

DFW def grappled with meaning and how art can be meaningless... it's super hard to get over unless you have a family and another purpose.

For me, this book is really really really really really personal. Parts of it are like scars. Parts of it wear my face. Parts of it are my best friends. Parts of it are friends of mine who are gone.

What questions do you have? Did you know that DFW wore the prince valiant haircut for a while after the book was finished...
 
Judith Browning
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I have not read this book. From Matt's discription it sounds like many that I read in college...... Herman Hesse and Ayn Rand, etc. I recently tried to read Magister Ludi again, and wondered how I ever made it through the book and more importantly understood it. It might be that some books are for certain periods of our lives and age related...or maybe not. I read lots of angst generating stuff in my twenties..........

What I am finding interesting about David Foster Wallace is that he was at the same university that I attended in the late sixties and early seventies......a very 'midwest' town in the middle of corn fields, but back then, anyway, there was a underlying movement to the far left in certain departments. I wonder how he ended up there in the 90's?
 
Matt Powers
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I'd caution such a comparison. He is the James Joyce of turn of the century America. He is the voice of an entire lost generation. Rand and Hesse are more politicians or junk philosophies in writer's guise than DFW, who was an artist of such great caliber to be uncomparable to any of the past 30 years. He was also young while those artists mentioned are from an entirely different generation.

Infinite Jest as you can imagine is based on Hamlet (the title is a direct reference). I did my colloquium on Shakespeare at NYU, so I was really able to sink my teach into a lot of it. His work is so well crafted and with such earnestness that it lacks the pretentiousness that writer's of his caliber usually retain (primarily because they are egoists). Some of our best writers were the opposite, Hemingway for instance.

I'd say no one unless they've read it has any idea what it is; you've read NOTHING like it even if you've read Ulysses by Joyce, for which you need a great deal of context to understand.

I urge everyone to actually read it, and do not skimp on reading the End Notes as you go. Those 100 pages contain keys to understanding the story you cannot go without!

MP
 
Judith Browning
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Matt Powers wrote:I'd caution such a comparison. He is the James Joyce of turn of the century America. He is the voice of an entire lost generation. Rand and Hesse are more politicians or junk philosophies in writer's guise than DFW, who was an artist of such great caliber to be uncomparable to any of the past 30 years. He was also young while those artists mentioned are from an entirely different generation.

Infinite Jest as you can imagine is based on Hamlet (the title is a direct reference). I did my colloquium on Shakespeare at NYU, so I was really able to sink my teach into a lot of it. His work is so well crafted and with such earnestness that it lacks the pretentiousness that writer's of his caliber usually retain (primarily because they are egoists). Some of our best writers were the opposite, Hemingway for instance.

I'd say no one unless they've read it has any idea what it is; you've read NOTHING like it even if you've read Ulysses by Joyce, for which you need a great deal of context to understand.

I urge everyone to actually read it, and do not skimp on reading the End Notes as you go. Those 100 pages contain keys to understanding the story you cannot go without!

MP


Ok, your enthusiasm has hooked me....I'll try to find the book at the library


 
Matt Powers
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It might be hard to find. I'd order it. There's plenty of copies out there that have been read on a small portion of the way into them
 
Cassie Langstraat
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Matt you are making me want to cast away all of my responsibilities for the day and just sit down and really get deep into it. It's hard because it's obviously not a light read to read after a long day, so when I am getting into bed after said long days I am like man, I don't know if my brain can handle tackling more than 10 pages of this.. So the going is very very slow.

 
Jessica Gorton
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Oh, take your time with it. It took me about a month (and I'm a girl who can devour a 500 page novel in an afternoon and evening, if it isn't too dense), and it really changes your headspace while you're at it. We can discuss it further when you're done, but you won't be sorry you took the time. There's nothing like it.

I've got my hubby reading it now. It's going to take him years, but he keeps reading other stuff in tandem.
 
Mountain Krauss
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It's my favorite book. After getting my law degree, I moved to Santa Cruz for the summer and tried to figure out what I actually wanted to do with my life. I stumbled onto Infinite Jest, and spent 2 weeks doing nothing but eating, sleeping, and reading. It does take a while to get your bearings, but don't worry about it. Just keep reading-- it'll make more sense the deeper you get into it.

Don Gately was my favorite character, but there so many great ones-- Pemulis, Orin, PGOAT. Year of the Perdue Wonder Chicken, Millenial Fizzies, wheelchair assassins. It's an amazing world to immerse yourself in.
 
Cassie Langstraat
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Okay I just need to trudge on. I think Orin is my favorite character at this point. Still only on page like 120. He is just so freakin dark and I sort of love that for some reason.
 
Matt Powers
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I'm the kind of teacher that gives that book to students who read Bukowsky in my classes.
 
Cassie Langstraat
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I love bukowski! What's your favorite bukowski?!
 
Matt Powers
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Tales of Ordinary Madness
 
Mountain Krauss
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Matt, what do you give to students who read Tadeusz Borowski in your class?
 
Matt Powers
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I'd give them Belfast Confetti by Ciaran Carson.

 
Mountain Krauss
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I'll have look into that.
 
Judith Browning
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Cassie, I'm wondering if you finished Infinite Jest? I just read 'This is Water' and have ordered IJ for my winter read.......just reading a lot of quotes of his makes me think I'll love the big book.
...and then there was this that I ran across http://www.thehowlingfantods.com/dfw/infinite-jest.html
He has a following, doesn't he
 
Cassie Langstraat
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This is Water is AMAZING.. I never finished Infinite Jest Judith.. I am sort of embarrassed that I haven't, but I just wasn't getting into it like I wanted to be. And my favorite english teacher of all time once told me that life is too short to read something you don't like. Not saying I didn't like Infinite Jest, I just don't think this is the right time in my life for me to digest it.

I'm reading several other books that I am enjoying right now and that makes me happy.
 
Judith Browning
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Cassie Langstraat wrote:This is Water is AMAZING.. I never finished Infinite Jest Judith.. I am sort of embarrassed that I haven't, but I just wasn't getting into it like I wanted to be. And my favorite english teacher of all time once told me that life is too short to read something you don't like. Not saying I didn't like Infinite Jest, I just don't think this is the right time in my life for me to digest it.

I'm reading several other books that I am enjoying right now and that makes me happy.


I know what you mean...I'm reading a huge trilogy now and look forward to another big book...for some time I've only been reading essays and short stories....and some books it's just good to own and read when the time is right as you say......
 
Judith Browning
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...reading it now
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
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I read it years ago, at the time it was just what I needed and put me back together again. A moving portrait of addiction.
 
Judith Browning
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I'm well past 200 pages into it and see it as really well crafted with interesting story lines and I'm following fairly well and reading end notes.
I'm seeing it as an excellent book to read in your youth...say college age rather than me at 65 yrs. although I'm determined to finish it this winter......I see bits of friends and myself and scenarios that are familiar from years ago...not sure I see it (yet!) as something so different from other well written fiction that takes a lot of thought and focus to read.....
 
Cassie Langstraat
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Judith Browning wrote:I'm well past 200 pages into it and see it as really well crafted with interesting story lines and I'm following fairly well and reading end notes.
I'm seeing it as an excellent book to read in your youth...say college age rather than me at 65 yrs. although I'm determined to finish it this winter......I see bits of friends and myself and scenarios that are familiar from years ago...not sure I see it (yet!) as something so different from other well written fiction that takes a lot of thought and focus to read.....


You're just really smart Judith! Because it took me a lot of focus, and I still couldn't do it.
 
Judith Browning
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Cassie Langstraat wrote:
Judith Browning wrote:I'm well past 200 pages into it and see it as really well crafted with interesting story lines and I'm following fairly well and reading end notes.
I'm seeing it as an excellent book to read in your youth...say college age rather than me at 65 yrs. although I'm determined to finish it this winter......I see bits of friends and myself and scenarios that are familiar from years ago...not sure I see it (yet!) as something so different from other well written fiction that takes a lot of thought and focus to read.....


You're just really smart Judith! Because it took me a lot of focus, and I still couldn't do it.


hahaha...I think stubborn rather than smart. It's pretty much a downer so far and who needs that? I think I'm just trying to prove to myself I can still read a big complicated book....
 
John Saltveit
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I'll say what I usually say: I didn't read the book, but I did see the movie. I highly recommend "The End of the Tour". It's about him and what he was doing. I make a top ten movie list every year and it will be on it. Now I want to read This is Water.
John S
PDX OR
 
Judith Browning
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John Saltveit wrote:I'll say what I usually say: I didn't read the book, but I did see the movie. I highly recommend "The End of the Tour". It's about him and what he was doing. I make a top ten movie list every year and it will be on it. Now I want to read This is Water.
John S
PDX OR


thanks, John...I'll look forward to it after this book Finding out that he taught (in the nineties) at the same college I attended in the late sixties/early seventies, keeps me interested.....
 
John Saltveit
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Great to hear from you again Judith.
John
 
Judith Browning
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hi, John...always good to 'see' you...

just ran across this...
 
Judith Browning
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and another interview...I think from when the book came out......

 
Judith Browning
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'This is Water'

 
Judith Browning
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I have a copy of this book that I would like to give to someone that might want to read it.  I made it over 200 pages in and appreciate his writing very much.  It is a book I think I would have read in a weekend in college but I guess I'm more impatient now or less focused....it's very, very long and has many foot notes.

If you want it let me know here and in a PM...I'll be happy to give it away and pay the postage to get it there....just in the states though.  

Read what Matt has to say about in the posts above......
 
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