This was going to be the summer I finally read Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace’s classic and infamously long novel. The idea was that since he is so hated by Brett Easton Ellis, an author who always takes a spot on my Most Reviled Authors list I pretend not to have, I would enjoy Wallace’s writing based on the theory that the enemy of my enemy is my friend.
Books I’ve Read to Avoid Reading Infinite Jest
- American Panic: A History of Who Scares Us and Why by Mark Stein (audio)
- The Heiresses by Sara Shepard
- Hellgoing: Stories by Lynn Coady
- Inside a Pearl: My Years in Paris by Edmund White
- The Zhivago Affair: The Kremlin, the CIA, and the Battle Over a Forbidden Book by Peter Finn and Petra Couvee (audio)
- Miss Lonelyhearts by Nathanael West (still reading)
- The Accidental Feminist: How Elizabeth Taylor Raised Our Consciousness and We Were Too Distracted by Her Beauty to Notice by M.G. Lord (still reading)
- The Fifties by David Halberstam (still reading)
I made it to page fifty-three.
Here’s a not-so-secret secret that should be obvious to long time followers of this blog: I am really good at procrastinating. This (rather unfortunate) skill combined with my general distaste for Gen X-ers who go above and beyond to make sure you understand just how clever they are, lead me to a bunch of other books I hadn’t previously categorized as “must read immediately.” Now, say what you will about my (personal!) dismissal of Infinite Jest (every reader has something to say about Infinite Jest), but it somehow lead way to a complete shake-up in the way I choose the books I read. If I’m “supposed” to be reading one book, every other book, literally ever other book, becomes “The Book I Shouldn’t Read So I Can Read X,” putting 99.9999999% of the books in existence on the same level of priority. So why not read a gossipy novel about a famous family that is a bizarre combination of the Kardashians and the Kennedys or a fantastic gifted copy of Lynn Coady’s Scotiabank Giller Prize-winning short story collection (thanks again, Amy!) or a surprisingly shocking history of the publication of a classic Russian novel?
I’ve finally allowed myself to officially abandon the book and stop pretending I’m going to continue to read it; I’ve accepted that the closest I’ll come to reading the book is having read Kim’s posts back in 2009. My new goals for my summer reading are a bit more circumspect.
Realistic Summer Reading Goals Post-Infinite Jest
- Read some books.
- Enjoy a few of them.
- Try writing about books once in a while.
- Read at least two of the books from the expansive list I created as I read Edmund White’s City Boy: My Life in New York During the 1960s and ’70s
Let’s hope I can resist my contrary nature and don’t rebel against reading completely. Then again, I do have access to endless tv shows and magazines…