Infinite Jest broke my Kobo. And my brain.
Once I got over my initial fear, I’ve been pretty cocky about reading Infinite Jest. It’s been WAY easier than I thought it would be. I’m able to pick it up here and there without backtracking to remember what happened. DFW’s quirks and tics aren’t bothering me much (though starting sentences with “and but so then” just doesn’t make sense to me.) It’s just SO much easier to read something written in and about a culture you’re familiar with, than say 19th century Russia. My shiny new Kobo Glo is really helpful, too. I can look up words right on screen (my new favourite word is postprandial) AND I can jump back and forth between main text and end notes (good thing because there are a ton of them).
So I’m thinking I’m quite SMRT. Then this happens:
Calculus was by far the most difficult subject I’ve ever learned. In an academic career marked by minimum effort and honour roll results, calculus was just beyond my brain’s capabilities. I worked harder than any of my other classes and barely passed. Having to think about calculus again was like a big smack down, reminding me that I’m not that smart after all.
And THEN the end notes started to get out of control. The Kobo works great until you have footnotes within an end note. Then it just sort of shrugs and says “yeah, I don’t know, you find your own way back.” And end note 123 splinters into its own chapter for some reason. I guess it takes a book like Infinite Jest to expose the limitations of the technology (DFW probably would have LOVED that. You know his BFF Jonathan Franzen would.)
So, what’s the point of all the fussy words, strange constructions, copious end notes, and mathematics? Is DFW just messing with us? Trying to make the reader feel dumb? Weeding out the riff raff? Showing off? I think it’s a bit of all of these, but there’s probably some meta stuff going on… like, life isn’t a straightforward narrative, or something. I don’t know. I’m feeling pretty dumb right now.
But, I will soldier on! I’m one third of the way through after 23 days of reading, so I’m on track to finish in less than three months total. For the record, though, this is the ONLY way I want to deal with calculus from now on:
Reading Roundup: September 2012
Who knew I could do enough book and bloggy things in one month to warrant an update?
September was a challenging month. Henry went through pink eye, thrush, teething, and colds. He still doesn’t sleep at night. Or ever. But, I feel like I’m getting back into a groove. My commitment to read every day helps a lot. There were a few days where it didn’t happen, but usually, if I tell myself “just one sentence,” I’ll end up reading a few pages. I may never be as prolific a reader and blogger as most, but this feels good.
I got books! And things!
- Won: Every Love Story is a Ghost Story by DT Max, a biography of the late David Foster Wallace. The Edmonton Journal’s book columnist Michael Hingston (@mhingston) had an extra copy to give away and I entered on a whim; I’ve never read any of DFW’s work. I was going to jump right in with Infinite Jest, but Michael suggested I start with something a little less ambitious, like Consider the Lobster. “Considering” that Infinite Jest is more than a thousand pages long, I think I’ll take that suggestion. Check out Michael’s blog for lots of local literary goodness.
- Bought: Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. This might just be the longest book I’ve ever attempted. Eek.
- Bought: Love in the Time of Cholera. See my rant about the cover here.
- Gifted: A brand new, pink Kobo Glo. It’s great! Mostly. Review to come.
I read books! Yes, plural, BOOKS.
- Vineland by Thomas Pynchon – I wrote up my initial thoughts on this excellent book. Four stars, nearly five.
- From Away by Michelle Ferguson – Review soon. Interesting themes but the characters didn’t come alive for me. Three stars.
I did things on other blogs!
- I guest blogged on Reading in Winter. Check out my post on Paranormal in Classic Literature. What a great experience. Kristilyn even helped me with the final touches as I was in the middle of sleep hell with my seven month old.
- I created my Classics Club list! Now I just have to actually join. I figure it’ll be book snob central – so excited.
- I committed to do a guest post for Angry Vegan in October. It’s not a book blog, so I’ll have to come up with something a little different. Here’s a guest post I did last year about my week-long vegan challenge failure.
Here’s to an even more productive October. And hopefully some sleep.
I came across this article satirizing book clubs on Jezebel. The article had me chuckling, but the comments are even better, and are in the same vein as my “Book Snob” post the other day. Hunger Games, Twilight, Fifty Shades; it’s all there. And Franzen, who I seem to talk about a lot, judging by my “most used tags.”
My feelings are summed up by an article title, referenced in the comments: “Can 35 Million Book Buyers Be Wrong? Yes.” It’s a review of Harry Potter by Harold Bloom, full text here. A great moment in book snobbery!
I had better finish The Idiot if I want to have any book snob cred. I ordered a Kobo reading light which should help that cause considerably. In the meantime, I added the full list of the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (see “The List” tab up top), with the ones I’ve read crossed off, for your perusal. I love crossing items off lists, so pressing Alt-Shift-D one hundred times (to format the strike-throughs) was quite enjoyable!