by David Foster Wallace
Paperback Edition, 1088 pages
Originally published 1996
“Everybody is identical in their secret unspoken belief that way deep down they are different from everyone else...”
I’d read reviews on the denseness and convoluted writing style almost to the point of putting myself off reading it. But in the end if was those same reviews that deemed Infinite Jest as unreadable that most appealed to me. How can something with so much critical acclaim be unreadable? And then there’s the articles with tips on how best to read it, which seemed even more ridiculous. It’s a book; you read it. There’s no method or strategy or stupid novelty survival guides required; you simple open page one and read the words. If you hate it don’t waste your time or if you like it read on. All you need with a book this length is patience and the realisation that it’ll take more time to finish than your average length book.
The book itself is a mixed bag and my feelings toward it vary.I loved the plot with the three separate story arcs. The drug rehabilitation facility is tragic, funny, horrifying and every other emotion you’d expect from addiction. The tennis academy is a ridiculously in depth insight into the world of amateur and semi-pro tennis, something i never thought i’d find interesting but DFW makes it so. Finally there’s the wheelchair assassins and their relentless pursuit of the ‘Infinite Jest’ tape. My major gripe was the footnotes. After i realised that the footnotes aren’t integral to the main story i started skimming them. I wasn’t a fan of them in House of Leaves and the same goes here. If anything they’re just a novelty that gradually became an annoyance.
The actual writing can only be described with a multitude of adjectives such as: Pretentious, intelligent, dull, hilarious, heartbreaking, experimental, melancholic, gripping, enthralling, slow, unnecessary and so on. You get the idea. I can’t pin this book down to one feeling. It was everything i love and hate about fiction and above all else it was unique; i’ve never read nor will i read anything like this again, which i’m thankful for. I’m glad i’ve read this supposedly unreadable book but at the same time i was glad when i’d finished.
My score is 3/5