Infinite Jest

Doing a reading today, a Dead Authors thing, where we all take turns reading stuff from writers who died this year. I’ve got David Foster Wallace, and’ll of course be doing the aloud thing to some Infinite Jest. Too, it was cool: I wrote a friend, asked him what I should read, and one of the two passages he got back to me about was one I already had marked. So that one it’ll be.

Anyway, paging through again, and I remember buying this book. I was in Tallahassee at the time, deep in grad school but about to jet north to Montana for a week or so. However, first stop before the airport was this little bookstore I’d never been into, a long hall of a place, no clue about the name. I wasn’t there for Infinite Jest, though — I was late for that, really (I’m thinking this was 97) — but Mason & Dixon. Which I quickly nabbed. On the way to the counter, though, there was this blue cardboard fold-up little display stand thing, with this big brick of a blue book on it. With clouds on the cover. I couldn’t help myself, I had to read it a bit. And then it was like, I don’t know, is ‘kismet’ the word that means something like ‘serendipity?’ Then why not just say serendipity, yeah (because it always reminds me of dragons, that word, I don’t know why). Anyway, either on the dustjacket of Infinite Jest (I don’t know; first thing for me is always getting rid of the useless, useless dustjacket, so I don’t have that anymore, now) or from talking to somebody at the same shelf, they told me that this David Foster Wallace, he was outPynchoning Pynchon. Which of course had to be a joke. But of course, too, I had to see for myself. So I charged both of them, am probably still paying for them. Happily. Too, I was lot tougher back then. I slammed through Mason & Dixon in something like three days, then spent the rest of the week in Infinite Jest. Good times, good times. I was stuck in Bozeman with it, I think. Snowed in close to a McDonald’s. Charged some excellent boots that week as well, which I would have paid for twice over.

But, Infinite Jest. There likely won’t be a recording of the reading tonight, but this at least is the record of my first (as-yet: only) read of it, from better than ten years ago now, I guess:


Click on the reduced images to get the ginormous ones. No clue what that sticker is either, but I always do that too. Could be anything. And, I consider it kind of a testament to the book that it wouldn’t fit into my scanner all at once. Anyway, I’m proud too, though it’s from him, to have his name at least on the front of one of my books (the Demon Theory paperback, I think, though of course now I can’t find one in the whole house, so who knows, maybe it’s on back).

Author: SGJ