Top of the Pile #20: Infinite Jest

OK, so this will very likely be my final Top of the Pile post, as I’ll surely be plodding through this ginormous book for the remainder of my life.

You think I’m exaggerating? Well then, you clearly haven’t heard all the scary stories about how only a minute fraction of those who embark on the Infinite Jest adventure survive, minds and limbs intact. I, for one, have countless friends who’ve admitted defeat at various stages throughout their 1,000+ pages long self imposed reading challenges, and only one who’s made it to the finished line. He, this person whom I now treat with the amount of reverence fit for a book reading god, admits he’s emerged out of it all scarred and bruised but also (how else?) a changed human being in more ways that one.

As for myself, I’ve been putting off even considering the possibility of ever intentionally touching Infinite Jest. I’ll admit it, I was intimidated. I was more than intimidated, I was certain I wasn’t smart enough for it. I had always suspected it, you know, that there would come a time and a book to confirm me I was nothing but a blonde, freckled, geek looking (oh the irony!) bimbo.

So this is it, my friends, the moment of truth. Will I fail or will I live to tell the story? Time will tell. For now, I’ve been officially reading Infinite Jest for about 6 days, and my Kindle says I’ve made it through 6% of it. Dare I predict it will take me 100 or so days to finish it at this rate? That’s not too bad, really, considering people around the world are doing this Infinite Summer thing, where they set aside an entire summer to read Infinite Jest together.

So I guess this summer will be my Infinite Summer. It was about time I embarked on something fashionably weird/insane. I’ll keep you posted (aka moan about it) throughout it all, and I swear I’ll try my very very best to make through to the end, like a self respecting, blonde, infinitely geeky bimbo.

*

I finished The Snow Queen last week after a 5k evening run (yup, still doing those, or more or less trying to survive one every other day).

If you’re after the short version, I didn’t find it as good as The Hours or Specimen Days.

I mean, it was all right (is that ever a good thing in a book review?).

It’s a story about things unseen. A higher power. A sign that everything will be OK, that one and one’s problems have been acknowledged, and there’s someone, something hard at work making sure everything turns out all right. All one needs to do is read the signs and wait.

I mean, it’s an interesting enough premise, I just wish it’d been a little more elaborated on in the book. Everything felt quite a bit unfinished, and though I guess it fits the theme, and you’re free to read into what’s not visible and pick our own signs, I wanted more detail. And the writing, though it’s beautiful, gave me the impression of “Hey, I can write a metaphor and you can’t! I can even do it on every other line! Look, no hands!”. No one ever likes that.

I don’t have any more Michael Cunningham works around and I’m surrounded by piles and piles of novels I’ve been meaning to read since forever, not even mentioning Infinite Jest looming in the background like a freaking book Godzilla for the next couple of months or who knows, so I don’t think I’ll be touching another Cunningham book for a while. I will leave you with a tiny Snow Queen quote though, it’s definitely a better way to end this post than I ever could come up with.

It’s hardly ever the destination we’ve been anticipating, is it? Our hopes may seem unrealized, but we were in all likelihood hoping for the wrong thing. Where did we – the species, that is – pick up that strange and perverse habit?

Happy reading!

 

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