Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Reading Infinite Jest

I have been reading David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest for about two weeks now. I am on page 156 out of 1079, including footnotes. The main thing that is tricky about reading is the book's size. I am used to carrying a book around to read while waiting for the G train and stuff, which is where I get most of my reading done. But even if my bag is empty except for this one book, the weight begins to feel like a burden after walking about two blocks with the thing hanging on my shoulder. At this point, my shoulder is actually sore, so the carrying of this books is becoming a bit of an ordeal.

Then there is actually trying to read the book. It is manageble to read while standing up, as if waiting for a train, for example, but I think there is nothing nerdier than holding your place on page 60 to flip the 1000+ pages to read a footnote about Monoamine-oxidase inhibitors (pg 994) (and struggling) in public. You begin to ask yourself, is it worth hefting this huge book out of my bag and finding my place to read only a few paragraphs (and probably getting a little confused...I find it hard to figure out what's going on if I start in the middle of section)? Also, you definitely need two hands to read the book, so if you are standing up on the subway, forget it.

Even if you are just sitting in a chair or reading before bed, the thing gets heavy, and its hard to keep up interest and/or morale.

Some pros of reading are: occasionally people recognize the cover and act impressed. I try not to show that I am really not that far along, so I can act smug and collecting my Literary Capital. Also, the more I get what is going on in the book, the easier it is to face the fact of spending the next several months reading only this book.

I will keep you posted on this project...

1 comment:

  1. what offers more literary capital-- infinite jest or war and peace?