I, like thousands of other GenXrs, picked up the paperback copy of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest in the summer of 1997. I was turned on by the cover, by the size, and what I thought reading it on the subway would say about me. I was taking the subway from Davis Square in Somerville, downtown every day. I stopped in hip coffee shops and bars on my way home from work to read and drink. I was all about being seen reading this hip, trendy book.
But the truth was the book was wicked heavy and my shoulder started to hurt and I, truth be told, never read at home. I only read in public in those days. And so while the book was interesting, it wasn’t interesting enough to override the sore shoulders and the book went back on the bookshelf and was eventually given away in one of my annual fiction purges.
Fast forward 12 (TWELVE!) years to a few weeks ago when BitchPhD posted a small blog about joining in for the summer reading of Infinite Jest over at Infinite Summer. She was in, and after I clicked through and read up on it, I was in.
I downloaded it to my I-Pod touch, purchased a paper back copy and also a reader’s guide — which makes great bathroom reading in case you wondered. I began reading late last week, and suddenly all the characters came back to me in a flash. And this time, I’m so much more aware of the writing, how the creation and structure of certain sentences please me in ways I didn’t expect.
I’ve got a nice little reading space set up at home now, complete with a book holder to prop the book up. I’ve got the appropriate number of bookmarks (one for the text, one for the endnotes) and fancy page markers so I can flag certain passages for later discussion, and this time, I’ve got a great schedule that paces me out at 75 pages a week and a giant community cheering me on.
This will be a great summer read.