Infinite Words: An Introduction

This is a post announcing some content you may or may not enjoy here over the next two weeks.

Last summer – and into fall – I spent a couple months plowing through all 1,079 pages of Infinite Jest. It’s the gangantuan novel by David Foster Wallace, my favorite writer. I’m only mildly embarrassed to show you what my copy looks like:

As widely as a writer can be considered a genius, David Foster Wallace is considered a genius. And he is one, insofar as his train of thought is so far beyond, say, mine, that I can’t even begin to quantify that distance. But he’s far from infallible; and I feel mildly safe in presuming he would agree with that.

So my admiration of him is not as a genius. It’s as a writer with an incredible ability to turn a phrase – some a few words, some full paragraphs-long – in so many different ways. They foster laughs; slight smiles; fear; depression; claustrophobia; delight. But my most common reaction, by far, was, “Gee, that was clever.” And I think that means more than it might seem.

I don’t usually mark up novels, and have never plastered one with sticky notes, like the book you see above. But if I was going to read 1,079 pages, I was going to remember the parts I liked. So that’s what each sticky note represents in the picture above: something I liked. There is certainly no system, color-coded or otherwise.

So, for the next two weeks I’ll be bringing you some of my favorite bits from Infinite Jest, roughly divided into categories. Please don’t read too much into any of these: as I said, these bits, for the most part, just made me think, “Gee, that was clever.”

So, enjoy. First up, later today: People.

3 responses to “Infinite Words: An Introduction

  1. Pingback: Infinite Words #1: Individuals « Meanderings

  2. Pingback: Infinite Words #14: The Future « Meanderings

  3. Pingback: Infinite Words: The End « Meanderings

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