Infinite Winter — The End
The last sentences rambled through my head. After three months I had finished the infamous tome that is Infinite Jest, all 1079 pages and 300-odd footnotes. Done.
The story starts at the end and finishes at the beginning. It shocked me, saddened me, made me smile and made me frustrated. There were moments of utter clarity that come with describing an emotion that hit home in resounding ways,and also parts where it seemed as if DFW was engaging in some mental mastrubation to show how smart he was. Characters come and go like books at a library, checking out only to be returned towards the end but none are left on the shelf too long.
No wonder it divides readers.
I enjoyed most of it. I didn’t dismiss it nor revere it.
Often in bookshops I have seen a little sign next to Infinite Jest. On the sign there a comments along the lines of “this book changed my life” or “I found it hard at the beginning but then it changed my life.” This is the worst way to read Infinite Jest. It will only put off potential readers when they start reading and get frustrated with it when it doesn’t change their life. You shouldn’t expect it to.
It’s a marathon not a sprint. It’s OK to not understand everything and it’s perfectly OK to question how, why and what DFW is doing. Infinite Jest is not perfect. The life changing stories gives it a reputation it doesn’t deserve by putting it on an instant pedestal that I feel for most it won’t match.
Infinite Jest is an experience to read. I don’t think I have been through so many ups and downs with a book before. But it’s not for everyone as the booksellers seem to say it is. My advice would be to take it easy and not to ask too much of it at once. DFW doesn’t reveal everything at once, most questions will be answered at some point. Patience. Infinite Winter is great for this. They set the pace and it’s a matter of endurance sticking to the 75 pages a week. Proud to say I never slipped behind. A few weeks I thought I might’ve but I always pulled it out of the bag. On the final week I even managed to finish early. A quiet day on a trip home to see family presented the perfect opportunity to finish a job I started three months ago.
And now, I will read something else. Wrestling biographies. A change of pace will do me good.
Originally published at www.woodcock.xyz.