Today at 3pm, a week of much needed and somewhat overdue vacation will begin. I haven't a single plan other than smogging and registering the car so that I don't get another parking ticket. However, there's one thing that I've put on the vacation to-do list. Just putting it there and writing about it here means that I'm committing myself to doing it. It's the only New Year's resolution that I made and with four months left in '04, I'm giving myself enough wiggle room to make sure I finish it.
It being Infinite Jest. 981 pages of text and 388 footnotes of David Foster Wallace weighing down my bookshelf, collecting the dust of two apartments, possible ash from last Fall's wildfires smudging the jacket. The spider webs have been holding it in place too long.
I've made three failed attempts at finishing this novel. For various reasons, none of them due to the quality of the novel but more with the quantity of my patience, I've made it only so far before returning it to the shelf where it stares at me, mocking my failure. It's hard to walk through the room and not see the four inches of blue spine with its cloudy lettering. I want to stick a fork in it. I want this mountain climbed.
After pulling the book off of the shelf, I noticed three makeshift bookmarks at the previous stopping points. I'm not sure of the order, but passages from each may be telling (or not).
One attempt ended on page 281:
"Peace on earth good will toward men," says Gately, back on his back, smiling at the dun cracked ceiling. He's the one who'd farted.
I also hit the wall on page 508:
It was not that the sky was lightening so much as that the stars' light had paled. There became a sullenness about their light. Now, also, strange-looking U.S.A. insects whirred actively past from time to time, moving jaggedly and making Marathe think of many windblown sparks.
My most successful attempt ended on page 838 after finishing an incredibly long, but typical David Foster Wallace paragraph:
The wraith says almost bitterly that when he'd stand up and wave his arms for them all to attend to the fact that his youngest and most promising son was disappearing, they'd thought all his agitation meant was that he had gone bats from Wild Turkey-intake and needed to try to get sober, again, one more time.
So one more time, beginning again.
Much needed resources: