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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Infinite Jest by David Wallace

Having lately invested in a paperback edition of David Wallace’s Infinite Jest, a 1,037-page text in small print (a length, I’ve repeatedly been told, is not publishable), I seek suggestions on how to approach the thing. Dave Eggers has said it required him a month to read it, but at my age I expect it will need much longer. My fear, of course, is that it will turn out to be a pretentious production, a display of cuteness designed to prove how informed the author was, how reckless and sophisticated, and how the possession of genius empowered him to ignore the value of being understandable.
My great hope, on the other hand, is that the book is as wonderful as so many critics have claimed, and that this author’s genius is not merely putative, but real. In any event I will be giving the novel my best attention for as long as I find it useful to bear with it, and will report back at intervals.
I should also say that I am dismayed by the lack of attention that has been given to this writer’s suicide, far less notice indeed than what has been given to Paris Hilton’s hairdo. The decay of the West – I’ll be reporting on that, too.

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