It’s a little bit funny that someone decided to do a big group read of Infinite Jest this summer because I just read it last summer (after first getting about halfway through it in about 1997 or 1998). I’m now dipping into it again and am surprised to find what a good friend it seems. It’s strangely comforting. I’m sure this is going to sound over the top, but the book is just so fracking brilliant it makes me almost laugh with joy and gives me hope that, yeah, there’s still so much possible good in this world. And that’s despite how sad the book is in so many ways, how sort of fully empty it leaves you when all is said and done, and how sad it is to think that its author is dead, eliminated his own map at such a tragically young age. What more could he have contributed to this world before he died?
So yeah, despite all that, Infinite Jest still makes me smile. If you haven’t given it a shot yet, you should. Let the first couple hundred pages wash over you. Don’t demand that it make too much sense. Every time you read something and think, “Wait. Where did I see that character or reference or image before?” go back and find that place. The book is so self-referential you have to flip back and forth constantly to really begin to understand what he is doing. So give it some time. Really give yourself over to it. You won’t be sorry.
Oh, and there’s still time to catch up with the readers who are doing Infinte Summer. They’re only 10% in, so what’s that? 100 pages? Come on! You know you want to!