It took me about three months to read the first half, but when it finally caught me I was able to finish it before 2011 ended. I spent a week or two just thinking about it, trying to figure out what I just read. The ending, for example, I'm still trying to rack my brains why he decided to end the book proper (not counting the first chapter, which I reread an hour or two after I finished it) with a flashback to Fackelman's death. Was it just because, in this book that slowly unfolds a bunch of bad memories that the main characters try their best to repress, that it should logically end with the most gruesome vignette? Either way, even though it had the ability to hurl me into a depression, I think IJ has a lot more heart in it than a good amount of any other books I've read (including anything by Wallace, fiction or non-fiction), and seems its damned hardest to be an encyclopedia of different emotions. Sometimes I think it achieves it, other times not, but considering that it does what it wants well for over 900 pages of its text, I'd say it's 1) definitely within my top ten favorite books and 2) something I really want to re-read. All those interpretations online that the ending drove me to made me realize it was one of those books where every sentence has a purpose to the story…damn. I got so caught up in the lives of Gately, Joelle, and the Incandenza family, that I was blinded to some of the more subtle things happening in the background, I guess. But still, I think the characters are the main draw to this book (something I can't quite say about any of the stories in Girl with Curious Hair) if I get that caught up in their struggle. With this book's characters, I think Wallace achieved something that all fiction writers kind of strive for: Over the last few weeks I've found myself wishing many of his characters were real.
So I've heard this was one of the funniest books ever, which was kind of just what I needed to wash IJ down. And I think I got what I was hoping for out of Portnoy, but I also appreciated its self-awareness and -criticism that (for some reason) I thought would be absent. In a lot of ways, Roth's reminded me of a more off-the-wall Salinger, with the precise dialogue and hypocrisy of the narrator, so I'm gonna make it a point for 2012 to read as much of Roth as possible.
Right now, I'm slogging through Coover's The Public Burning, which I started late last semester in school, but quit for a while to focus on my finals, and then to focus on finishing Infinite Jest. So far, Coover's book is very surreal, crazy and imaginative—but I don't think as "fun" as that seems to imply: so far I feel kind of feel like I'm reading a badly edited and inaccuracy-filled textbook—like Coover's trying to begrudgingly cram in Mandelson's requirements for an encyclopedic narrative. The first two parts almost seem like a promise for an insane climax coming up, so I hope Coover meets me half-way there instead of Nixon awkwardly perspiring around Ike (or "Uncle Sam", idk) for 300 more pages while the narrator disrupts that for more out-of-the-news headlines.
Last edited by Snoogans on Sat Jan 14, 2012 5:29 am, edited 1 time in total.