Thoughts on Infinite Jest (Part 2)

If you haven’t read it, here’s part 1.

  • The footnotes at the end are a pain in the butt to read but Infinite Summer’s brilliant suggestion of using multiple bookmarks (one for footnote, one for main text for example) made it easier. Given that some footnotes run into pages, the publishers wouldn’t have had a choice.
  • You can read IJ even if you are not literary minded. (I find it hard to read literary books actually.) But, you have to trust DFW and he makes you wonder where he’s taking you sometimes and you realize that it’s the journey that makes the book incredible.
  • Clearly not everyone will read or will even want to read IJ and those that don’t will have missed out on something great.
  • If you are a writer, IJ will make you want to jump off the nearest building, preferably a very tall one. When you read writers like DFW, you realize that there are lots of good writers, some really good ones, but there are very few great ones. He was one of the greats. In Stephen King’s On Writing, he says that the great writers are at a different level and when I read IJ, I realized what King meant.
  • The character that I liked least in IJ was Orin Incandenza. Somehow his way of thinking and acting didn’t endear him to me.
  • I don’t know how DFW dreamed up Mario Incandenza, but he’s a beautiful character. He’s physically challenged in the most grotesque way but has a spirit that makes your heart ache when you read about him.
  • After reading IJ, I think most people feel like they want to be better versions of themselves. It’s hard to explain because IJ isn’t an inspirational or a motivational book — parts of it are horribly dark — but that’s the feeling you get when you read the book.
  • I don’t know how good The Pale King (DFW’s next novel, to be published posthumously obviously) will be but I’m pretty certain that I will read the book. Not a chance that I’ll pass up something he’d been working on for such a long time.
  • IJ affected my reading style. My reading list has become more diverse, especially in the fiction area. I’ve always found literary work hard to read but in the months after finishing IJ, I read Dracula and 1984. I’ve got Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein in the to-read pile and I will look at the classics that I’ve missed out.
  • DFW’s writing makes you want to be more earnest in your writing. Also, only after reading a book like IJ would you want to write such a long review. I hope it was as interesting reading for you as it was writing for me.

End of part 2. Series concluded.


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