Not a Recommendation

I finally finished Infinite Jest, which has taken me about two months, and that during quarantine. It was a slog. I couldn’t get through more than 15 minutes of it at a time before my eyes would glass over and my thought processes stop completely. I know a lot of people raved about the brilliance of the writing, the importance of the book, but I just didn’t get it. A bunch of prodigal teens at an elite tennis academy, and all of them are ten kinds of fucked up on drugs and had bad childhoods and there’s just way too many gross bodily descriptions and gratuitous freak injuries and a lot of them are in rehab but outside of that, there’s no real plot, no overarching meaning, no nothing uplifting, inspiring or even slightly entertaining. Truly, it sucked.
I suppose partly it’s just above my intellectual level. I felt the same as I felt after reading Gravity’s Rainbow. Which was “I’ll never read another book by Thomas Pynchon again.” Then I broke that rule with The Crying of Lot 49, so Pynchon is partially redeemed but I have no intention of seeking out any other books by David Foster Wallace. There would be no point. I got nothing out of it, and it’s the only book he’s famous for.
My feeling is that if writers like Pynchon, Wallace, Joyce, Faulkner and maybe a couple of others in that vein insist on writing in such a way that the reader will never be able to figure out what the actual fuck is going on, what the book is actually about, because it’s buried under such an avalanche of bullshit -like the subplot with the CIA guy and his transvestite Canadian counterpart, what the hell did they have to do with anything in the end? – well, I wish them luck. But I am not their audience.

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