Dear David Foster Wallace (hereby known as DFW),
Have you ever walked past a stranger on the street and felt a deep ache, as if you’d known him or her as a lover in a former life? I felt that way about your book. Having never read any reviews or articles about your writing, I felt connected in a deja vu sort of way. For years, your lengthy novel appeared on bookstore tables and bedroom bookshelves but rarely if ever discussed out in the open. I have yet to meet a single person I know who has actually read Infinite Jest. They must be out there. Somewhere.
In ONE MONTH, I’ll be going back to school, DFW. I picked up your book exactly one week–or seven days or five alarmed wakeups or countless breaths in and out–of sitting for the GMAT exam. The sheer number of pages, as I flipped through the paperback in that tiny book store in the Upper East Side, shocked me. Here was an author (that’s you DFW) who didn’t even use paragraph indentations if and when he didn’t feel like it. Your book, a book that had always felt just beyond my grasp, suddenly came to life. Harry Potter’s wand chose him. I imagined myself being selected in a similar way. (Please do not take offense to my mention of another fiction series in your letter.) The pages and the print and the sheer lack of indentation gave me a physical thrill.The book is heavy, DFW. I believe it is because of people like you that small electronic readers were invented. My right shoulder has developed a strain from the weight of your writing in my bag as I move through crowds of daily commuters. Your words weigh heavy too, in ways I haven’t felt in a long time. What would you have thought about business school? I make my boyfriend read your paragraphs just so I have someone I can to discuss your writing with. What did you used to think about on a given afternoon, say a Tuesday, in November or midnight in July?
Your book is the opposite of a beach read. One single sentence often takes me longer to read and (pretend to) understand than full magazines cover to cover. I wonder why this is. My friends lay out their beach chairs and blankets, passing suntan lotion between browning bodies. I open Infinite Jest and float away. We, humanity, have an incredible talent more unique than opposable thumbs. How lucky we are to be able to disappear into books this way!
I am now 1000000% certain that I will not finish Infinite Fest before orientation or the first day of classes or even by the time of my Firms & Markets exam. But your words will wait for me when I come home from work or get a quiet Sunday to myself. I want to thank you for that and do sincerely wish you were still on this Earth.
7 thoughts on “Infinite Jest”
Katelyn…you have met me…and I read it(no jest)…several years ago….remember I was quite taken with it too at the time…but not sure I remember why…maybe a revisit is in my future. Glad you’re having a jest fest 🙂
Still moving my way through…one page at a time. And still enjoying it!
It is like nothing I have read…and am continuing to read.
Such a generous tribute. I will read it next.
I started reading it today, so far I’m loving it so so much!!
Let me know what you think!
I’m now 1/10 done with it. I’d be lying if I said it was a breeze, but no matter how hard it is, it never stops being so readable! How are you getting on with it?