ALL BLOG POSTS AND COMMENTS COPYRIGHT (C) 2003-2016 VOX DAY. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. REPRODUCTION WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION IS EXPRESSLY PROHIBITED.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Easton Ellis on Foster Wallace

Brett Easton Ellis kind of likes the movie about David Foster Wallace, he just doesn't recognize the character in the movie:
For many of us who couldn’t get through the David Foster Wallace novel Infinite Jest (and tried a few times), and found the journalism bloated and minor-key condescending and thought the puling Kenyon commencement speech was pure BS, and resisted the coronation of Wallace since his suicide in 2008 as St. David, based on a particular and very American brand of sentimental narrative, the new film about Wallace, The End of the Tour, is surprisingly easy to take even though it’s reverential to a fault....

Wallace is presented as a guy who was just too sensitive for this world — and that strikes a certain emotional chord, especially with younger viewers and actors. The movie portrays Wallace as an angelic Pop Tart-sharing schlub, a lovable populist, a tortured everyman and ex-addict who loves dogs, loves kids, loves McDonalds, exudes “realness” and “humanity,” and the movie completely ignores referencing the other Wallace: the contemptuous man, the sometime-contrarian, the asshole with an abusive side, the cruel critic — all the things some of us find interesting about him. This is the movie that prefers the Wallace who was knighted into sainthood with his Kenyon commencement speech called — deep breath — “This Is Water: Some Thoughts Delivered on a Significant Occasion About Living a Compassionate Life,” which even his staunchest defenders and former editors have a hard time stomaching, arguing it’s the worst thing he ever wrote, but which became a viral sensation as well as a soggy self-help guide for lost souls.

And the David in this movie is the voice of reason, a sage, and the movie succumbs to the cult of stressing likability. But the real David scolded people and probably craved fame — what writer isn’t both suspicious of literary fame and yet curious in seeing how that game is played out? It’s not that rare and — hey — it sells books. He was cranky and could be very mean and caustic and opportunistic, but this David Foster Wallace is completely erased.
I never bought into the cult of DFW. Unlike Ellis, I actually read Infinite Jest, and it struck me as one part genuine literary talent, one part imitation Irving, two parts literary posturing, and three parts unrealized ambition. He was hailed as great when he did nothing more than show potential, and I suspect that had more than a little to do with his self-inflicted demise.

Labels: ,

77 Comments:

Anonymous Viidad August 13, 2015 12:52 PM  

Infinite Jest was a hard slog, though it had some brilliance. Lots of suicide in it, as I remember. Foreshadowing.

Anonymous dh August 13, 2015 12:53 PM  

that had more than a little to do with his self-inflicted demise.

A lot of people don't realize how premature praise and congratulations destroy the human spirit and dulls the urge to be great. Dogged determination is a feature, not a bug. Being prematurely rewarded for greatness is like playing house rules Monopoly where you never lose.

There are a few rare people who can brush off adulation and keep pushing, but for the most part, it marks the end of excellence. George Lucas is a great example. His first movies were grimy, gritty, and powerfully raw. Luke standing in the dust and desolation, gazing as the double sun system, blasters and monsters and one on one combat. They had a drive and a plot, and the lack of unlimited funds caused him to do things which were real and caused a connection to the characters. Fast forward to him making Episode I, and the plot and character development are terrible. All the grime is gone, all the real practical effects are gone, and at the end of the movie, it's impossible to know what even happened. In Episode IV, light saber battles are constrained by physics and by reality, in Episode I, the are tightly choreographed dances that leave you feeling empty instead of full of zeal. The greatness that he earned was unjustly amplified a hundred times by the brown-nose crew, and doing so ruined his ability to see clearly. His instincts were irreparably damaged, and he never recovered as an artist.

Blogger Josh August 13, 2015 12:54 PM  

“This Is Water: Some Thoughts Delivered on a Significant Occasion About Living a Compassionate Life,”

The title along is an exercise in navel gazing.

Blogger Josh August 13, 2015 12:56 PM  

He was hailed as great when he did nothing more than show potential, and I suspect that had more than a little to do with his self-inflicted demise.

I'm reminded of your interview with Jonathan Haidt:

Roy Baumeister wrote a devastating critique of self-esteem research in the 1990s showing that it's not low self-esteem that leads boys to be violent, but high, unstable self-esteem. It's when you have self-esteem that's been artificially raised; you think you're great but you're really not and you kind of know it. Whenever something happens that reveals you're not great, that's when you're humiliated and that's when you're likely to lash out.

Anonymous NorthernHamlet August 13, 2015 12:59 PM  

I was always very unimpressed with Wallace, and I've been known to have a strong stomach for almost any kind of writing.

Sounds like I'll skip this movie as well.

Anonymous Ryan ATL August 13, 2015 1:08 PM  

I think the furthest I ever got in IJ is like page 350.

The biography that came out a year or two ago about DFW (believe it was called "Every Love Story is a Ghost Story") really illuminated how flawed a person DFW was. I coulda watched a movie showing all of that honestly but based on this review I will probably pass.

I like DFW's non fiction. I guess I just prefer the style of BEE much more.

Blogger Groot August 13, 2015 1:12 PM  

@2. dh:
"George Lucas is a great example."

For some deep and hilarious disquisition on this, I highly recommend a series of videos by RedLetterMedia's "Mr. Plinkett," with a twisted take that is used in actual film schools, starting with:

Mr. Plinkett's Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace Review

It is worth every minute of your time.

Blogger dc.sunsets August 13, 2015 1:14 PM  

Notoriety, power, celebrity, etc. are all feted in our modern culture. Two observations stand out, however: 1) We see the "beautiful" people who achieved them, not the hundreds or thousands who sought them, failed and then crashed & burned, and 2) few of those who "made" it appear to travel Happiness Path.

The expectation set that accompanies all this drives many players mad (and they either off themselves directly, off themselves indirectly via self-destructive vice indulgence or they visibly join the ranks of people living in crazy town.)

Living a small life seems like a better way to travel this adventure.

Blogger Nate August 13, 2015 1:21 PM  

reading infinite jest should be added as a form of mandatory sentencing for felonies.

Blogger Josh August 13, 2015 1:23 PM  

reading infinite jest should be added as a form of mandatory sentencing for felonies.

That would be unconstitutional.

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Blogger Cail Corishev August 13, 2015 1:35 PM  

I know nothing about the guy, but reading the quoted text above, I just kept thinking, "Gamma, Gamma, Gamma, huge Gamma, Gamma...." Egad.

Anonymous dh August 13, 2015 1:43 PM  

@11 - Absolutely DFW was the ultimate gamma. His whole life was lived in a circle of trying to gain approval from his social superiors. When he gained it, somewhat, he fell apart. It's like the greyhound to finally catches the mechanical rabbit.

He is yet another person who'd probably be alive if he knew more about game.

Anonymous GreyS August 13, 2015 1:46 PM  

Wallace was getting so much press in those days-- I was skeptical but wanted it to be true as I was always on the lookout for great novelists. I remember seeing him on tv and thinking, "This guy doesn't believe it himself". He seemed scared that he wasn't who he wanted to be. When I started reading some essays I thought he was occasionally insightful and a good enough guy, but didn't see how his sort of mind could make a great novelist. I started reading IJ and knew pretty quickly he was way way overrated. I never finished it. Couldn't sit through 800 or whatever pages of someone who is 1/4 as funny as he thinks he is. (among other reasons).

Blogger bruce August 13, 2015 1:47 PM  

A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again was good, mean, smart attack journalism. It impressed Paul Fussell and Kingsley Amis. By me, them's credentials. Can't say I ever snoozed through any Wallace novels.

Blogger bruce August 13, 2015 1:47 PM  

A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again was good, mean, smart attack journalism. It impressed Paul Fussell and Kingsley Amis. By me, them's credentials. Can't say I ever snoozed through any Wallace novels.

Anonymous Ryan ATL August 13, 2015 1:51 PM  

From what I recall from the biography, DFW spent a lot of time in the pants of females he knew.

Anonymous Ryan ATL August 13, 2015 1:55 PM  

From Rolling Stone:

He was a ladies' man.
Wallace hooked up with everyone from friends' girlfriends to countless young fans. He once asked his friend Jonathan Franzen if his only purpose on Earth is "to put my penis in as many vaginas as possible."

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/news/six-things-you-didnt-know-about-david-foster-wallace-20120827#ixzz3iidXwLRo
Follow us: @rollingstone on Twitter | RollingStone on Facebook

Anonymous Blue Meanie August 13, 2015 1:58 PM  

Infinite Jest - the jest is on the reader who slogs through the whole thing.

To DFW's credit, he finished his novel. Damien Walter, on the other hand, overcomes the fear of failure and not being good enough by being the greatest writer never to have written anything. Nice work if you can get it. And live with yourself.

Anonymous GreyS August 13, 2015 2:02 PM  

Never got around to reading BEE's novels either, though I have liked some of his essays.

Anonymous NorthernHamlet August 13, 2015 2:05 PM  

VD,

What's your opinion on 1Q84?

Blogger VD August 13, 2015 2:09 PM  

What's your opinion on 1Q84?

Liked it a lot. Didn't love it.

Anonymous Porky August 13, 2015 2:22 PM  

I view anything with "postmodern" on the label the same way I view anything with "high fructose corn syrup" on the label.

It won't be as tasty as the real thing and it's probably not very healthy.

Anonymous Viidad August 13, 2015 2:28 PM  

@ Porky

Shoot. My new book Postmodern Gardening: The Good Guide To Sort of Feeling Out How You Interact or Don't Interact With Plants Because It's About The Journey Not Actually Growing Stuff is about to be published by CH... think it's not a good idea?

Anonymous Ryan ATL August 13, 2015 2:33 PM  

VD you read anything by BEE?

Anonymous NorthernHamlet August 13, 2015 2:33 PM  

Viidad,

Don't forget the chapter on trans-plants and relative truth.

Anonymous Porky August 13, 2015 2:43 PM  

@ Viidad

Ooh, is that part of the "Compassionate Gardener" series??

btw, Viidad, I transplanted my rocotos to a bigger pot like you said and they came out even smaller than before.

Anonymous Viidad August 13, 2015 2:44 PM  

I ask all my plants what they identify as before I place them into a garden plan.

Anonymous Viidad August 13, 2015 2:45 PM  

I don't think there's such a thing in the world as a "rocoto".

Anonymous Porky August 13, 2015 2:45 PM  

I think my rocotos are self-identifying as cherry tomatoes. Perhaps all this fertilizing and transplanting is hurting their self esteem?

Anonymous Viidad August 13, 2015 3:06 PM  

I done fink dey gots a devil in 'em, Pahky.

Blogger Josh August 13, 2015 3:11 PM  

What about postmodern high fructose corn syrup?

Blogger Dexter August 13, 2015 3:13 PM  

"Wallace is presented as a guy who was just too sensitive for this world "

GAY!

Anonymous Porky August 13, 2015 3:14 PM  

@30

Well, they are hotter than hell.

Anonymous Viidad August 13, 2015 3:18 PM  

"What about postmodern high fructose corn syrup?"

If it identifies as cane sugar, will your pancreas be discriminatory if it sends it over to the liver for processing?

Anonymous Porky August 13, 2015 3:20 PM  

#wrongsweetener

Anonymous Bz August 13, 2015 3:21 PM  

That Rolling Stone reference was inadvertently funny.

"He once plotted murder.
Obsessed with the writer Mary Karr, Wallace planned to shoot her husband with a gun he tried to buy from a guy he met in recovery. ..."

(NB. no exclamation marks)

"He voted for Reagan. And supported Ross Perot! ..."

Eeeek!

Blogger Groot August 13, 2015 3:31 PM  

"I myself, as a tree, comport to the hermaphroditic floor plan, but I identify as male, being 7 feet tall, and having a deep speaking voice. Plus, I can sprout a tremendous woody."

I am Groot.

Blogger Josh August 13, 2015 3:38 PM  

"I myself, as a tree, comport to the hermaphroditic floor plan, but I identify as male, being 7 feet tall, and having a deep speaking voice. Plus, I can sprout a tremendous woody."

I am Groot.


So brave.

Thanks for this.

Anonymous Bz August 13, 2015 3:42 PM  

I'm a bit leery of a movie presenting DFW as a model of sincerity or something. He was a postmodernist when postmodernism was hot, come on. Postmodernism was irony, game playing, meta levels and all that, not sincerity. I think BEE's picture of DFW's conflicted handling of his fame seems much more true to form than the image of the sensitive New Age cult leader the movie makers apparently wanted to present.

Also, that bandana photo in RS was quite ridiculous. Very 90s. I smiled, at least.

Blogger Cail Corishev August 13, 2015 4:09 PM  

I don't think there's such a thing in the world as a "rocoto".

Domo arigato, Mr. Rocoto.

Blogger Jourdan August 13, 2015 4:27 PM  

Yeah, I remember when he died and I read the address online that was supposedly so moving and thinking to myself "seriously?"

The guy had poseur written all over him.

Blogger ray August 13, 2015 4:53 PM  

Wallace and Ellis were selected embracees of the lit pseudo-cognoscenti a few decades back. As with so much of modern lit, 90 percent PR and sheep-leading, 10 percent realized talent. I found their books self-indulgent, inferior to the greats, and largely unreadable. Why waste my time when I've got the classics, plus good SF?

Ethan Canin was part of this Anointing at the (of course, feminist) writing and literature departments of west coast colleges, universities, and related local scenes. Ethan was unpretentious, with some decent short stories, not soaked with fartsy-artsi-ness. No Chekhov, Melville, Faulkner or Papa H. however. The universities rejected them because Oppressor White Male. They wanted Edgy Ellis and Rigoberta Men Chew.

Blogger Vanished friend August 13, 2015 5:02 PM  

What you self-defeating reactionary dipshits don't realize is that Wallace was a conservative converso and that Infinite Jest is the greatest conservative novel ever written. Unfortunately, he was right about it being the saddest thing ever written, because while he surely expected to be obliviously lauded and co-opted by the same America-subverting left he casts as the book's villains, he probably didn't expect to be so completely ignored or dismissed by the literate right, to whatever extent that still exists. If you were a justifiably-depressed genius who had created a magnum opus which sought to covertly warn the nation about becoming hopeless captives to a treasonous Gramscian plot to corrupt and control our psyches, but wound up only being surrounded by and stranded in a sea of fawning leftists, you'd probably also second-guess your commitment to staying alive for the sake of enlightening an audience which had casually and utterly forsaken you. Re-read the fucking book, you ungrateful twats.

Blogger Josh August 13, 2015 5:19 PM  

If you were a justifiably-depressed genius who had created a magnum opus which sought to covertly warn the nation about becoming hopeless captives to a treasonous Gramscian plot to corrupt and control our psyches, but wound up only being surrounded by and stranded in a sea of fawning leftists, you'd probably also second-guess your commitment to staying alive for the sake of enlightening an audience which had casually and utterly forsaken you.

WAKE UP SHEEPLE???

Anonymous NorthernHamlet August 13, 2015 5:29 PM  

Hey Viidad,

Did you see that guy who made the new hottest pepper in the world, the Carolina Reaper?

Blogger Groot August 13, 2015 5:30 PM  

43. Vanished friend August 13, 2015 5:02 PM
"dipshits ... you ungrateful twats."

You have such sweet pillow talk. I'm curious why your friends vanished.

My reading is 98% non-fiction and 2% SF. My father was a Professor of Literature, and I'm done. To quote Shakespeare, fuck that shit.

Blogger ray August 13, 2015 5:39 PM  

"reading infinite jest should be added as a form of mandatory sentencing for felonies.

That would be unconstitutional."


Guess the Infinite Jest was on us, Josh.

Ellis and Wallace helped show me the bankruptcy of the East Coast lit establishment and its PR. I never trusted them again. Who knew who, who went to somebody's party, who the female profs in the writing departments thought was hip, etc.

There were a few authentics scattered, e.g., I liked some of T.C. Boyle's short fiction. And there was still some good SF in the late Eighties, mostly in awards compendiums, though it was thinning quickly under p.c./feminist hegemony.

Somebody needs to finish off this scam and put that zombie Grey Lady outta her -- make that our-- misery. Oh and purge the universities of the New Totalitarians too.

Anonymous Viidad August 13, 2015 5:42 PM  

@NorthernHamlet

No, sounds awesome. Hot chile fights should be an event on Pepperview. Or Capsaicinemax.

Blogger Vanished friend August 13, 2015 5:48 PM  

"WAKE UP SHEEPLE???"

As a matter of fact, yes. Wake up. Just like Gately does on the beach. There's a world-famous sci-fi novel about saving America from being passive-aggressively destroyed by leftist revolutionaries. It's been around for 20 years. Wake up and read it. It's not too late.

Anonymous grey enlightenment August 13, 2015 5:50 PM  

DFW is the literary equivalent of Kurt Cobain. We can't enough of 90's counter culture, which is like a 180 refutation of 80's materialism .

Anonymous Rob August 13, 2015 5:58 PM  

I agree that Infinite Jest is in many ways a very conservative novel. To call it the greatest conservative novel is a stretch though. I'm not even sure it's a good novel, much less a great one.

Blogger Vanished friend August 13, 2015 6:03 PM  

"You have such sweet pillow talk. I'm curious why your friends vanished.

My reading is 98% non-fiction and 2% SF. My father was a Professor of Literature, and I'm done. To quote Shakespeare, fuck that shit."

I don't want to be your friend. I want you to read Infinite Jest, because it's important for anti-leftists to read it, understand it, claim it, and pwn the left with it. I'm allergic to fiction, too. Besides a handful of Kratman books, Infinite Jest is the only novel I've read in the last, oh, ten years. It's very long. So divide it into thirds or ninths and pretend it's a series published by Baen or something. Just fucking read it. You're welcome.

Blogger Vanished friend August 13, 2015 6:11 PM  

There's no arguing taste, but there is such a thing as explaining taste. So, explain yourself.

Anonymous Rob August 13, 2015 6:25 PM  

@53 I assume you're talking to me?

The book is a slog, filled with postmodern clunkiness, style over substance. There are any number of far more beautiful conservative works, especially considering that many of the greatest novels of all time are deeply conservative. The idea that Infinite Jest is a greater novel than Brothers Karamazov or Sword of Honour is absurd.

Blogger Harmon August 13, 2015 6:48 PM  

Enjoyed IJ quite a bit, but read it in pieces. Or maybe because I read it in pieces. Treating it as several volumes in a series is good advice.

Anyway, from what I've read about his death, it had to do with his medications not working right. He'd been on one med, then shifted to another. Turned out that the first one had worked better, but evidently, the first med didn't work the second time around. This was a known risk. It's pretty clear he suffered from depression (the mental illness, not the emotional state) & his suicide resulted from being unable to handle it.

Blogger Vanished friend August 13, 2015 7:05 PM  

Okay, for the sake of argument, let's amend my hyperbole to greatest American conservative novel in the last 50 years. What challenges it for that sub-crown?

Anyway, the postmodern clunkiness actually conceals a gorgeous symmetry. Not just the formal geometry, either. Are you aware of the narrative conceit running throughout the entire book, i.e., how the narrator is supposed to have an imperfect sort of third-person omniscient access to all the perspectives?

Also, given the superabundance of heavyweight substance, "style over substance" is an accidental compliment. For christ's sake, how much more substance do you require?

Blogger Feather Blade August 13, 2015 7:15 PM  

@43: Bravo! You got the condescending tone just right! and the invective~ Magnifique!

A superlative example of post-modern irrationalist discourse!

Blogger Vanished friend August 13, 2015 7:16 PM  

Also, are you aware that to a certain degree it's supposed to be a slog? If someone doesn't have a moment or two when they want to toss the book out a window or in the garbage, then the book has failed, because the act of reading the book is supposed to mirror the contemporary act of living, to be alternatingly too-much-fun, like a Substance or the Entertainment, and endurance-testing, like AA for a television generation.

OpenID shallowthoughtswithgeoff August 13, 2015 7:16 PM  

Vox is right, he had talent. Much of it seemed under developed, though. His short stories are well written, but they aren't "soooo good." The speech "What is Water" actually was an elegant attempt at seeking happiness for a man who apparently was convinced of a godless world.

Anonymous Rob August 13, 2015 7:25 PM  

@56

Okay, for the sake of argument, let's amend my hyperbole to greatest American conservative novel in the last 50 years.

Again, I'm not convinced Infinite Jest is even a good novel. How many conservatives works of the last 50 years have you read? You've said you'd only read a single novel in the last decade.

Anyway, the postmodern clunkiness actually conceals a gorgeous symmetry.

Just because it's clunky for a reason doesn't make that clunkiness good writing.

For christ's sake, how much more substance do you require?

It's not a deficit of substance, it's an overabundance of style to the detriment of the story.

Blogger Vanished friend August 13, 2015 7:40 PM  

Actually, Feather Blade, it's just an ordinary example of a pissed-off foulmouth. I'm from Southie. It's the exact fucking opposite of postmodern. It's just how I talk. Didn't expect anyone here to be such a sensitive pansy about a little profane hostility. The last place I'd expect, actually. Tell me why a condescending tone isn't appropriate when scolding right-wing sci-fi fans for so flippantly neglecting the best anti-left sci-fi of the last generation. Tell me how I'm "irrationalist". Be my fucking guest.

Blogger Vanished friend August 13, 2015 8:15 PM  

Before the 10-year fiction hiatus, I had read a lot of fiction. I got sick of fiction. But look, if you don't even think it's good, then you have to concede that you're in an extreme minority of those who've carefully read the book. Maybe you didn't read it carefully? But then, how did you grasp its conservativeness? You read all 981 pages plus the endnotes? See, because I cannot imagine anyone devoting that much effort on a book they don't even think is good. After, say, 150 or 300 pages I'd expect you to give up. I've never encountered anyone who read the whole book, carefully, and didn't think it was very, very good. What was that like, then? Must've been fucking torture. Pity. Everyone I know who's read the book has said that -- apart from a brief torturous stretch of stylistic departure here or there, apart from the sheer length, apart from the occasional glut of trauma described -- it was practically a breeze to read, a pleasure. I agree. Because the voice was naturalistic, and the style was clever but unpretentious. Perhaps you mistake unpretentious for clunky and/or clever for pretentious? I still don't get it. The story's detriment? Did the story confuse you?

Blogger VD August 13, 2015 8:22 PM  

I've never encountered anyone who read the whole book, carefully, and didn't think it was very, very good. What was that like, then? Must've been fucking torture.

I'm right here. I read the whole book. I'm generally known for my recall of books I have read. It was not very, very good. It was a disappointing slog... and I read Eco in the original Italian.

Anonymous Reader August 13, 2015 8:23 PM  

I've only read one work of DFW, it's IJ. I'd say DFW was so self-absorbed.

Blogger Groot August 13, 2015 8:25 PM  

61. Vanished friend:
"I'm from Southie."

South shit-hole nobody's ever heard of? Is it true everyone is an asshole there?

"a little profane hostility" is kind of funny. How's it feel?

Blogger Vanished friend August 13, 2015 8:32 PM  

Well, there's a first. I've now encountered one, at least. Using your reknowned recall, then: Which parts were especially disappointing, especially sloggy?

Blogger Vanished friend August 13, 2015 8:39 PM  

To sincerely answer your facetious question: Yes, it's true. Nearly everyone in Southie possesses at the very least an vigorous asshole streak. (Or, used to possess. It's since been colonized by liberals, hipsters, yuppies.)

How's a little profane hostility feel? Feels like home! Thank you.

Anonymous 141 August 13, 2015 8:56 PM  

RE: Infinite Jest

The characters suck and it's not exciting. The main draw is the use of language for those who like language in and of itself. That said, i'm fairly certain that's the point.

The Entertainment is a video created by a drunk by the name of Himself. Anyone who watches The Entertainment cannot stop watching and they eventually die. The creator/author Himself was not an artist by trade but an optics expert(suggesting special effects over depth and meaning). Also it should be known that the working title was actually "A Failed Entertainment".

All this suggests that Wallace wrote a novel decrying shallow meaningless entertainment using parallel techniques of said shallow entertainment. Instead of Michael Bay using explosions or the Avatar movie with trillion pixel CGI, Wallace used self indulgent highfalutin vocabulary mixed with low brow subject matter and non traditional structure to the delight of literary nerds/snobs. The irony is that most of those who worship Wallace are the leftist language snobs who hate Christianity and those who intially reject him are rightists who hate postmodern bullshit.

Personally I appreciate the work for what it is, namely, a failed entertainment.



Anonymous Rob August 13, 2015 9:00 PM  

I've never encountered anyone who read the whole book, carefully, and didn't think it was very, very good. What was that like, then? Must've been fucking torture.

I read a lot, and have a very high standard of what counts as "good." I've read many thousands of pages of difficult books that I don't consider very, very good.

Also, there are any number of people who have finished Infinite Jest and not found it to be as excellent as you do, despite your incredulity that such a situation could ever come to pass. It's ok if other people don't like a book that you like very much. It doesn't mean they're idiots, or have terrible taste, or that they didn't get it.

Blogger Josh August 13, 2015 9:04 PM  

Okay, for the sake of argument, let's amend my hyperbole to greatest American conservative novel in the last 50 years. What challenges it for that sub-crown?

Bonfire of the Vanities

Blogger Vanished friend August 13, 2015 9:09 PM  

Which characters suck?

Blogger Vanished friend August 13, 2015 9:21 PM  

I don't expect everyone to think it's a masterpiece. I don't expect everyone to think it's great. I don't think you're an idiot just because you think it's not even good, nor do I think you necessarily have terrible taste. But I'm fairly certain you misunderstood it.

Blogger Vanished friend August 13, 2015 9:39 PM  

Do you value Dickens above Dostoevsky?

Blogger Vanished friend August 13, 2015 10:28 PM  

Holy shit, never mind, I just read your review. You seem to have been predisposed to read it as ungenerously as possible because you assumed Wallace was just a politically-correct postmodernist weenie? You don't have to like him or it, but you definitely misunderstood Wallace and the book. If you had initially pegged him as a covert conservative, you surely would've read him more generously, and probably would've understood the book much, much more. (Story ain't that hard to follow, dude.) I'll bow out of these comments altogether after this, but not before pressing this reminder: There are thousands of leftists who worship Wallace and Infinite Jest; they have no fucking clue that they are the evil antagonists of their own favorite book; were they to realize it, it could shatter their spirits and brains. It would be very, very productive to reevaluate your opinion of Infinite Jest and its place in the canon of conservative literature.

Anonymous zen0 August 13, 2015 10:34 PM  

@73 Vanished Friend.

>Do you value Dickens above Dostoevsky?

Lets see.....Dickens wrote about humans in England. Dostoevky wrote about humans in Russia.

England and Russia are different.....

Too tuff for me. Pass.

Blogger rho August 14, 2015 1:07 AM  

Infinite Jest is a very good book. I've killed many insects by hucking it at them when they were out of reach.

As a literary influence, his non-fiction is quite better than his fiction, but that's not his legacy. So I kill skeeter hawks with his fiction, and never mention his non-fiction.

Blogger Feather Blade August 14, 2015 12:54 PM  

@67: "Nearly everyone in Southie possesses at the very least an vigorous asshole streak."

Wet-wipes might help with that.

Post a Comment

Rules of the blog
Please do not comment as "Anonymous". Comments by "Anonymous" will be spammed.

<< Home

Newer Posts Older Posts