Ready for Summer Reading, Just Not Infinite Jest

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

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

  1. Read some books.
  2. Enjoy a few of them.
  3. Try writing about books once in a while.
  4. 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…

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9 Comments

Filed under Lists, Personal, Quick Hit

9 responses to “Ready for Summer Reading, Just Not Infinite Jest

  1. Awesome post! I was going to suggest we try to “not read it” together but I see you are already done with trying :) I am going to peak at Kim’s post… I am not familiar with the book.

    • You can join me in not trying! Glad you’re checking out Kim’s posts, I can’t believe how long it has been since she posted them!

  2. This sounds like such a familiar approach to books…

    I keep hearing about this one but can’t actually work out if it’s about anything or just a huge experiment – at least Ulysses is about stuff right?

    • Exactly! Infinite Jest just seemed like it was written to show off Wallace’s skills, not to tell a story and just so happen to be clever while doing so (like, for instance, Coady’s collection of short stories which blew my mind). I’d rather save myself some time and read classics I can connect with instead of being forced impressed by wit. Reading infinite jest was kind of like being invited to a dinner party to hear the host’s four year old play the piano impressively.

  3. I’m glad you liked the short story collection :) Infinite Jest sounds lame, but the other books you’ve read sound interesting. Hope you get some more fun reads in during the summer!

  4. Ti

    I posted about reading a chunkster over the summer and Infinite Jest was in the running. Probably not now, though. LOL.

  5. I get the same way about books I’m “supposed” to read. The minute they get on a list or become work I will find any excuse I can to read something else :)

  6. I’ve never gotten more than ten pages into Infinite Jest. I really enjoy DFW’s nonfiction, in small doses, but Infinite Jest is just too huge an amount of his writing all at once. Essays are, I think, the best DFW delivery system.

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