I don’t remember exactly when I picked up my copy of Infinite Jest. My best estimate is in the neighbourhood of 7-10 years ago. I remember the day I picked it up – I remember being in the store, a local bookshop which was next to a grocery store where I was working at the time. I was never a big reader when I was younger, but this was around the time in my mid-to-late-twenties that I finally did take to reading and was really enjoying it for the first time in my life.
I’m a slow reader, but at that time I was managing to get through the books I had at a pretty good clip (for me, anyway), and I was frequenting book stores scouting out possible future additions to my bookshelf. I remember seeing Infinite Jest a couple times before I finally picked it up. Something kept drawing me to it. I’d never read a book of such proportions before, and I hadn’t even really considered it – given my typical pace, I couldn’t fathom how long it would take me to get through so many pages.
But still, it’s like the damn thing was taunting me, with its bright blue background and whispy clouds and silly and playful title text. The first time I picked it up off the shelf and felt its sheer weight in my hands, it scared hell out of me and I put it right back and left the store. The next day I was back though and still felt myself drawn to it, and I said what the hell and brought it home.
I never stood a chance. I clearly had no idea what I was getting into. I made it about 100 pages in and then it just sat there on my shelf taunting me for years and years. I was tempted so many times to just get rid of it- give it away, sell it, use it to prop up a table, something… but I kept hanging on, thinking “someday…”
Until today. Today is the start of Infinte Summer, the online reading group that’s going to get through this thing together! I’m a little worried about being able to keep up, given my typically slow reading pace – I think it will get especially difficult during BluesFest since I’ll be there every day, and I’m not sure that environment and the weeklong bender to accompany it will be particularly conducive to reading. But I’m going to give it a shot- I think this is going to be my best chance at actually finally getting through this thing.
Reading along with a community of people keeping pace and having meaningful discussions online about just what it is we’re reading from week to week seems like it will be a great experience. I’ve gotten a bit of a jump on things since I finished my last book (The End of Faith by Sam Harris) a week ago and figured I’d just dive in so I can (hopefully) keep pace, at least for the first week… we’ll see about the rest.