Monday, August 05, 2013
Earlier this summer Buzzfeed published a post about the 27 "broiest books" and Infinite Jest was at the intersection of High-Brow and Broiest. (Shouldn't there be a hypen in there: bro-iest?) As I am kind of vague on what a "bro" even is I am not sure how this is helpful. But I did get the impression that even Buzzfeed did not consider a book's appearance on this graphic to be a compliment.
Just to head off the negative comments, I know a lot of people really like DFW and I am not planning to trash him here. I'm sorry his depression caused him to take his own life. A few people have mentioned to me that I should try his nonfiction and I do plan to do that. But all that said, is this book really as good as some people think it is? Is there no chance at all that some of the hype surrounding it is due to the perception that it is "difficult" and therefore accessible only to the best and brightest (and hence provides bragging rights to those who claim to like it)? I found many chapters incomprehensible, claustrophobic, and highly off-putting. I found the much heralded fractal structure to be undetectable and could discern few, if any, Hamlet references. Could I have consulted the many online and print guides to this book? Sure. But it comes down to this: I didn't care about any of these characters. I didn't like them, and I really really wasn't interested in reading about the unpleasant things they were getting up to. And that is at the heart of it. But if you liked it, hey, good for you. If you didn't, join my club where we go back to our regular reading.
(Book 21, 2013)