Monday, June 22, 2009

diving into the Infinite Summer

A 1000-page literary novel that has an 8-point font and tips the scales at close to three pounds is a somewhat unlikely summer read. Face it, the beast just isn’t portable, making it a lousy choice for reading at the beach or tucking into an airplane carry-on. Perhaps a three-inch-thick book is perfect for a “staycation,” as many folks are hanging closer to home. One thing is certain: lots of people are reading Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace’s magnus opus, as part of a summer reading challenge.

When Infinite Jest was released in paperback, I gave myself permission to buy a copy. I love a big fat book, but I don’t often read them, mostly because I always have three or four books going, and any book over 550 pages suffers. But I would like to read the book that put Wallace’s literary genius on the map. Having company, by way of the Infinite Summer challenge, gives me the nudge I've always needed to finally read Infinite Jest.

One participating blogger did the math to determine how many pages she would need to read each day between June 21 and September 22: 7. My calculation is closer to 12, which seems manageable. And so I began this horribly humid St. Paul morning by reading the first twelve pages of Infinite Jest, and then I read a bit further to finish the chapter. My initial impression is that, indeed, DFW was a genius, and that it’s too early to say where the novel is going or even if I'll like the main character or any other characters, for that matter. Suffice to say, I like DFW’s prose, which is accessible and smart and interesting—a really great combination.

I’m shooting for page 63 by Friday. That way, when I read the IS forum, nothing will be "spoiled."