Infinite Jest

The title of the book Infinite Jest comes from a film within the story.  it’s been a long time since I read the book, but as I remember it, people who come to see the movie see a projection of themselves sitting in the audience.  Nothing else happens, and eventually, some of the people give up and leave, but the film keeps going as long as a single person stubbornly sits in the auditorium, keeping the movie going.

My personal theory about the book is that Wallace intended it like the movie — he didn’t really expect that anyone would slog through the 1000 plus pages (including footnotes).  While he wrote darkly funny prose, and a lot of things happened in the book, it was just one thing after another, without a clear plot trajectory.  To be honest, you could  stop anywhere along the way and not miss too much.  Just as the audience had the power to end the movie by simply leaving, I think he was suggesting that his readers had the power to end the book just by saying "enough" and closing it.

This week, David Foster Wallace seems to have decided that he didn’t need to find out what comes next in his story.  I didn’t know the man personally, and I didn’t even love his book.  But I feel diminished by his passing.

One Response to “Infinite Jest”

  1. Wayne Says:

    I only ever read his essays, but Infinite Jest was a book I’ve been planning to spend a summer with for some time. His death saddened me in ways I didn’t expect, and that sadness came to a sharp point when a family friend attempted suicide this weekend.
    I’m glad you wrote something about Wallace today. Thanks.

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