I may be taking my life into my hands but I have committed to reading David Foster Wallace’s magnum opus, Infinite Jest, this summer. My writers workshop, of which I have spoken often, has set aside 13 Tuesday nights for discussion of this monster piece of work. Over 1000 deeply packed pages of absurdity, comedy, mayhem, and madness, it offers a wonderful view into the mind of one of the best writers (if not the best) of the last thirty years. The young man who will be leading this group, well, it’s his third year in a row doing it, and he re-reads the book every year.
I have bitten the bullet and bought the book in paperback. Wallace has written a number of footnotes (yes, I know it’s fiction) on the order of nearly 400, some of which it is necessary to read to get the full scope of the book. Some of them cover many pages. Should I have my head examined, having undertaken this absurd challenge? I will still be reading for my regular workshops, presenting at one or two, and managing the space of our workshop. I also hope to get a book out by fall, though I have my doubts that it is feasible.
It is a terrible state to be in, to have to choose between reading friends’ work, writing, and reading this huge volume. And don’t forget the Red Sox. Infinite Jest is not a book you can read when the count is 3 and 2 with 2 out and runners in scoring position.
So if I don’t post too often this summer, you will know it is because I have bitten off more than I can chew. And that hasn’t happened n a long time!