June 26, 2009

now with fewer periods!

Sixty-three pages into Infinite Jest for the second time, I’m starting to get a sense of how cool Infinite Summer is. Some things that have happened so far:

I looked up “apocope” (loss or omission of the last letter, syllable or part of a word); “bolection” (a raised molding, esp. one having flat edges and a raised center, for framing a panel, doorway, fireplace, etc.); the Latin phrase, “Quo Vadis” (trans: where are you going? Which apparently Peter asked Jesus, who was on his way to get him some more of that crucifyin’) (also, a novel about Nero by Henryk Sienkiewicz).

And someone posted in the forums about Hal’s “I am in here.” statement, which got my brain shooting in several directions, some of them existential, some of them funny, some of them Hamlet-related, some of them Hamlet-related and existential, some of them about the running theme of failed communication, as in a declaration and physical manifestation of utter solipsism. My sentences seem to be getting run-onnier as I recalibrate to DFW’s narrative which sort of webs out and then turns in on itself but not before hurling you into a near violent to and fro from text to footnote. Yeah, this book is pretty cool.

June 19, 2009

nerd alert.

My wrists were never the same after reading the behemoth of capital L Literature otherwise known as Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. I also came to mistrust footnotes. Don’t get me wrong--I was just as sad as you were when DFW’s unfortunate death abruptly punctuated his contribution to literature with a resounding period. I, too, have considered the lobster.

But I still waiver between thinking this book is a work of unparalleled genius (well paralleled by like, Ulysses) and a monumental waste of time strung together with cleverness. Upon finishing Infinite Jest, I was known to grumblingly complain that someone should write David Foster Wallace a mean letter demanding recompense for time spent flipping back and forth from footnotes to text. What kind of (non-science) genius needs that many footnotes to prove a point?
The smarty folks over at The Morning News have organized Infinite Summer, a web-wide community reading of Infinite Jest scheduled to begin on June 21st (yes, this Sunday (we're reading slowly, so you'll have time to catch up if you start later)). I’ve signed on to see if another reading, with guidance from the passel of qualified book nerds assembled to read it with me, will help me draw new and definitive conclusions.

So, um, read it with me. No one should have to do this alone.

June 18, 2009


I was recently laid off. I worked for a nonprofit that offers educational opportunities to underprivileged kids, so you know, it wasn’t a surprise.

Sometimes funny and unexpected things happen when you get laid off:
1. The application for unemployment insurance benefits in California asks for your ethnicity. The options in the drop-down menu are “Hispanic or Latino” and “Not Hispanic or Latino.” Apparently, there really are only two kinds of people in this world. Or at least, in California.
2. Several college friends offered me internships. This was somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but seriously? I have friends who have interns? We’re getting old, guys.