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Tag: Infinite Jest

My Infinite Summer: Week 1

Well, we’ve hit the first of our first Infinite Summer scheduled milestones, page 63 on Friday and page 94 yesterday. (I notice that the reading schedule allows for bigger chunks to be read over weekends, presumably because normal people probably have more time to read on weekends, but I’m so not normal, so I’m going to go ahead and aim to finish up all my Monday milestones by the Friday previous.) So far, I’m on schedule – though just barely (got most of the way through on Friday, but didn’t pick up again until late Sunday night when I jammed out the last couple of pages). Considering that I got a head start on the first week’s reading, this doesn’t exactly bode well for the rest of the summer. Guess I’ll just have to try harder.

So I survived the first 97 pages! (I actually read-ahead 3 pages Sunday night – woo!) This beats my previous attempt at reading this book by about 10 pages, so that’s something!

So far so good – there’s some really great stuff here – I loved the Erdedy the weed addict section, and the 8 page footnote (plus footnotes) of James O. Incandenza’s filmography, Wardine, the “professional conversationalist,” Hal’s introduction, the corporate sponsored year names, the Quebec separatists connection and the really bad cross-dresser, and so many more really funny, beautifully written moments.

It is all a bit overwhelming. It really does kinda feel like you’re just floating around the surface of the narrative as Matthew Baldwin suggests. I get the distinct feeling that there is so much more here that a deeper reading could reveal, but I’m just trying to stay afloat and find my way through the dense  narrative and structure.  But it’s all just so much fun as well!

So, week one is done.  I’m going to have to work hard to keep on schedule, particularly the next couple of weeks – with Canada Day tomorrow, and then Bluesfest starting next week (!!), my reading time is going to get really limited.  I’m very motivated right now – I’ve made it through what a lot of people consider to be the toughest part of the book, the first 100 pages or so…  So I’m just going to keep powering through and see where I end up next week.  Wish me luck!

My Infinite Summer


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.