Friday, July 10, 2009


I am quite behind. So far behind that I've had to practically drop off the Infinite Summer forums for fear of spoilers. I'm still reading diligently and loving every word; it's a time management issue that's keeping me from catching up. It also comes down to reading style. I am a very slow reader by choice. I usually imagine that I am reading the text aloud — no, I don't move my lips — to a reading circle consisting of multiple 'me's. The 'me's are different aspects of my personality and they have wonderful arguments on the text. Then, several 'me's have side conversations that I'm not privy to and only fill me in on what they've hashed out through sideways glances. It's difficult and maddening.

Oddly enough, this is how I've always read and this is the only way I seem to be able to retain anything that I have read. I enjoy reading this way, but it affords me no swiftness of pace.

There is something in Infinite Jest that I read last night; I read it over and over. There have been several of these 'Interludes' so far. Short changes of perspective that drop back into a previous scene, just for a moment, and just to let you know that the characters still exist and are still engaged. Here's one of those interludes. I hope it's not too much text to post, I'm actually going to enjoy typing this out:
The temperature had fallen with the sun. Marathe listened to the cooler evening wind roll across the incline and desert floor. Marathe could sense or feel many million floral pores begin slowly to open, hopeful of dew. The American Steeply produced small exhalations between his teeth as he examined his scratch of the arm. Only one or two remaining tips of the digitate spikes of the radial blades of the sun found crevices between the Tortolitas' peaks and probed at the roof of the sky. There were the slight and dry locationless rustlings of small living things that wish to come out at night, emerging. The sky was violet.

- DFW, IJ p. 97
It's interludal passages such as this that keep me reading. They always read as a stark poetic contrast to the preceding scene involving the same characters. The previous scene with Marathe and Steeply was odd and stuttering and dislocated. This passage is focused and beautiful. These sparse interludes are my favorite things in the book so far.

1 comment:

paris said...

I loved those passages as well! There's some discussion on the IS-site of people's discontent with the Steeply/Marathe discussions, but they are so descriptively rich and politically intriguing that I read them with bated breath. IJ has so many books in it: I could read one just about these two guys and their interactions.

And, it's a long summer, you'll catch up. I'm finding that some of it is definitely quicker reading than other parts, and folks say that after 200 or more it definitely gets easier.