Tagged: What Happened in Infinite Jest

What’s The Deal With Infinite Jest?

One does not simply read Infinite Jest

I just finished Infinite Jest, and I have questions.

I finished the book early one morning, before the kids were awake. The first thing I did was Google “what happened in Infinite Jest.” The second thing I did was Google “Infinite Jest WTF” and my own blog was the fourth result. Gulp.

I started to read some blog posts and critical reviews, and quickly realized that if I just read what other people think, I’m not going to draw my own conclusions. So, I quickly wrote down my questions and impressions so they’re as fresh as possible. I don’t want to sound smarter than I am because I’ve read a bunch of other people’s thoughts.

(As an aside, 101 Books identifies this, reading reviews before forming an opinion, as a sign that you might be a book snob. Well… I’ve come to terms with my book snobbery, so I’m okay with that!)

This post is for other people who finished Infinite Jest, and, like me, were like “WHAT HAPPENED,” so you’ll feel better; for people who finished it and totally understood everything, so you’ll feel smart; and for people who haven’t read this book, so that maybe you’ll be intrigued enough to pick it up. Despite not understanding everything, I think this is an important book for all of us borderline millennials  and, well, everyone. To paraphase DFW himself, this book is about what it is to be a fucking human being.

In no particular order, here are my questions, impressions, thoughts, and feelings upon finishing Infinite Jest. Spoilers, etc:

  • What is the significance of TEETH in this book? Off the top of my head, the ADA forgives Gately for causing his wife’s obsession with cleaning her teeth, one of Himself’s films was about teeth, one of ETA staff is obsessed with teeth, Mario is “homo dental” which I don’t even know if that’s a thing, and every time I read “Ortho Stice” I thought of braces. This may seem like a weird thing to fixate one, but it is really bothering me!
  • These is a serious lack of female characters in this book. The settings are primarily male: A tennis academy and a drug recovery house, both of which of course have female residents, but are male dominated. The primary females are damaged or physically different – Joelle’s face (both as PGOAT and UHID), Avril’s height, Pat’s limp. Continue reading