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Victoria Reads Books

Global citizen, adventurer, ponderer. Lover of coffee, books, and the Oxford comma. Infected by wanderlust, enchanted by stories. Might occasionally be a photo blog.

Currently reading

Jane Austen
Progress: 230/412 pages
Le Petit Prince
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Eight Great Comedies
Sylvan Barnet, Morton Berman, William Burton
The Longman Anthology of Short Fiction, Compact Edition: Stories and Authors in Context
Dana Gioia, R.S. Gwynn
Anna Karenina
Leo Tolstoy, Louise Maude, Aylmer Maude, E.B. Greenswood
Infinite Jest - David Foster Wallace

While reading this book, I had big plans for this review.

It was going to be long.
It was going to be detailed.
It was going to be introspective.

- however, as I currently ride the high of finishing, I'm afraid that what captures my feelings best is something along the lines of


- because really, how do you review this thing this huge, crazy, intricate, sprawling monster of a book?

My experience with IJ started when I was reading a blog, and saw that IJ was the favourite book of the blogger. Intrigued, I read a bit about it, and decided to buy the book.

I was fifteen, and I was not ready.

I think I got about 150 pages in or so before I stopped, and didn't pick the book up again for another three years.

The thing about Infinite Jest is that it isn't a book to read for bragging rights. It isn't a book that you should just pick up because someone said it was good.

To state the obvious: this book is freakin' massive, beyond simply a page count. I picture David Foster Wallace heaving a hopper of tennis balls at me, each with a topic written on it- drugsaddictionCanadaFrenchLatinQuebecseparatismsexentertainmentfilmssupernaturalAAdepressionhugewordsnonexistentwords have fun you'd better like tennis too- as I run, frantically trying to catch as many of the tennis balls as I can. I feel like that was a lot of my experience with this book: there was just so much. I know that every reading experience is unique to each individual- but this book takes that to a whole other level. I feel lucky in that I could connect to the book in so many ways. Knowledge and love for tennis is definitely a plus, though. Mix the subject content with all-over-the-place chronology, inconsistent points of view, and a ridiculous number of characters and footnotes, and you know that this is a remarkably difficult book to read.

I admit to having had a lot of trouble with Infinite Jest. Initially, I thought that I could finish the book within the span of three weeks, since 1000 pages a week isn't usually that difficult. Hence, during a gap between reviewing ARCs, I picked IJ up again, and started to read. I won't pretend that I understood everything that happened in the book (and anyone claiming to probably isn't telling the truth). It has taken me months to finish this book, inconsistently reading it between required school readings and with a month-long break when I was in an immersion program in Quebec and wasn't allowed to read English texts. IJ probably ruined my potential ARC reviewing career and made it impossible for me to do a Goodreads reading challenge (since IJ is worth ten books but would only count as one).

(I'm not bitter about those, though. Really).

One thing that I'm immensely grateful for is that IJ brought me closer to the Goodreads community. In real life, nobody I know has read- or even heard of- this book. On Goodreads, practically everyone has at least heard of it, and those who have read it are so supportive. I wish I could go out for coffee with you guys and have a chat about this book, since I seem to be rather alone with it offline. Everyone who has 'liked' a progress update or sent me an encouraging comment- thank you.

I confess, immediately after finishing IJ, I was rather confused. At least I'm not alone in Google searching 'What happens at the end of Infinite Jest'- it seems that a lot of other people have been in this situation. Poking around on the internet really helped to clear things up. I didn't understand all of Infinite Jest, and there was so much time between when I started and when I finished that many details faded away. I can't deny that this book was utterly brilliant- it was moving, it was angst-inducing, it was funny- but I also can't pretend that it was perfect. Frankly, I don't think it needed to be that long.

I'm going to miss many of the characters in the book, Enfield Tennis Academy, and David Foster Wallace's brilliance that I can only sit and be in awe of. I'm going to miss Hal especially, he was probably my favourite character. I could probably write essays upon essays on this book, but at the moment, I'm somewhat emotionally drained after finishing. I'll probably go back to this review tomorrow to clean it up and maybe add a bit.