Frankly, there’s nothing to spoil.
This book is a complete enigma to me. How do I read a heaping mountain of garbage and still fall madly, head-over heels, in love with the author?
People call this book a masterpiece. It isn’t. Unless my theory that David Foster Wallace wanted to write a nonsensical behemoth that all the high-brow, hipster douche bags would think was soo deep and innovative (I know there’s a fucking word I’m looking for here and it’s escaping me right now). But in reality it’s just nonsense, there’s no meaning to it. So like it was a social experiment David Foster Wallace (DFW) pulled to trick people and every last one of them took the bait. You know, like The Emperor’s New Clothes type situation.
If that’s not the case, I got the gist of what he was trying to say, he just never actually made the point. Going into it I assumed it would be like Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: a look into the meaningfulness that we take for granted in the banal of every day life.
On like a much larger scale.
But I feel like it never came around to that. In his defense, I did kind of check out once I figured out the three separate storylines (books, really) were never, at any point, going to converge. And I only finished reading it to get through it. Had he split them into three separate books, I think the point could have been made.
While he had mad sentence structuring skills and an eye for detail on par with the Wachowski sisters, I’m not impressed with an 1100 page novel (with fucking footnotes. FOOTNOTES. FOR FICTION!) that comes across, to me at least, as nothing more than semi-coherent rambling.
Given enough time, anyone can freakin’ do that. I know, I know I just don’t get it. Except that I did get it, I know DFW, I know what he was going for, I just don’t feel like the book makes the point.
You know what it read like to me? Like the notes an author would make before writing a novel. You know how like JK Rowling talks about how she had several notebooks filled with minute details about all the characters and the school and the classes, what each character could or could not do. That’s what Infinite Jest read like to me. Like this is what he needed to know about the book before he wrote the book, but instead just published his notes.
I read books, not so much to analyze style, and structure, and all that. I want a story. There’s no story in Infinite Jest, it’s just a description of an alternate universe and the people who live there. There’s no conflict, no climax (OMG once I found out what was actually on the cartridge I almost threw the book, but I wasn’t about to put a damn whole in the wall, so you know I stopped myself), nothing. And because of that I felt like it was a waste of nine months.
However, as I stated before, I am now completely enamored with David Foster Wallace. I really do want to read Every Love Story is a Ghost Story (DFW’s biography). I’m sure that will offer a little more insight to the book and make me appreciate it more.
What do the haters say:
- It tries too hard
- The book in no way, lives up to it’s potential
- The footnotes forcefully disjoint the narrative
- The book is ambitious, but isn’t successful in its ambition
I could not agree more.
Overal Grade: D+
Infinite Jest is not a masterpiece, but David Foster Wallace is.
PS: If you haven’t, check out his speech Water. That’s what I think he was trying to say, but failed in Infinite Jest.