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Infinite Jest

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    I've been reading Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace for the last two weeks, i'm only on page 180 (of the 1079) and i'm fighting the urge to give up. Has anyone else read it, or attempted it, and if so is it worth seeing it through?
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    It's worth it. It really is. Just keep with it until the end. Should also note, you're not the only one:

    Persevere to page 200: There are several popular way stations on the road to abandoning Infinite Jest. The most heavily trafficked by far is “The Wardine Section”. Where the opening pages of IJ are among the best written in the book, page 37 (and many pages thereafter) are in a tortured, faux-Ebonics type dialect. “Wardine say her momma ain’t treat her right.” “Wardine be cry.” Potentially offensive (if one wants to be offended), and generally hard to get through. Hang in there, ignore the regional parlance, and focus on what the characters are doing. Like most things in the book, you’ll need to know this later. Likewise for the other rough patches to be found in the first fifth of the novel.
    http://infinitesummer.org/archives/215
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    (Original post by Ape Gone Insane)
    It's worth it. It really is. Just keep with it until the end. Should also note, you're not the only one:



    http://infinitesummer.org/archives/215
    I'll try and slog through it. How long did it take you, out of interest?
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    I have a copy of Infinite Jest, and I've never got past the first page.

    I'm of the opinion that if vast quantities of a book are awful / boring / hard to read then that shouldn't be ignored just because it gets good towards the end. I think Infinite Jest is badly written, dull and pseudo-intellectual. But then I'm one of those stupid people who likes to be entertained by their literature

    The best I can say (in my own honest opinion) is that it's a decent idea for a book, but reading it is torture. I'd much rather spend my limited reading time on something that gets good on page one.
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    If you've given up on Infinite Jest because it's not 'entertaining' you've pretty much singularly missed the point of the book.

    OP: If you've only read up to page 180, then I can't say I'm surprised you're confused. I'm doing my dissertation on it, and even I have to admit those first 200 pages can be a slog. I will say that the rest of IJ has more focus and a greater sense of purpose, and you'll understand the world and characters much better as you read. I won't say it gets 'easier' as such (though I wouldn't describe it as especially impenetrable, especially compared to Joyce, Pynchon, etc.), and you will have to retain a lot of information, but it is certainly worth your time.
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    Unless you just happen to enjoy it, I'm not sure IJ is 'worth' reading. There are a fair few of these contemporary American novels about wallowing in the wretchedness and bankrupt existence of middle-class characters. Personally I find they get boring.
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    Infinite Jest is a book I want to read (yes, another on my long reading list...), and I've heard that the first 200 pages are a bit boring, but I havn't heard of anyone who didn't enjoy it who persevered. Keep going, and if you like the next few hundred you'll be on a roll.
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    (Original post by Christien)
    If you've given up on Infinite Jest because it's not 'entertaining' you've pretty much singularly missed the point of the book.

    OP: If you've only read up to page 180, then I can't say I'm surprised you're confused. I'm doing my dissertation on it, and even I have to admit those first 200 pages can be a slog. I will say that the rest of IJ has more focus and a greater sense of purpose, and you'll understand the world and characters much better as you read. I won't say it gets 'easier' as such (though I wouldn't describe it as especially impenetrable, especially compared to Joyce, Pynchon, etc.), and you will have to retain a lot of information, but it is certainly worth your time.
    I have decided to keep going. I do enjoy it, in a masochistic sort of way. And i see what you mean, i've started seeing connections between the sections rather than loads of random disjointed short stories.
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    It might be worth reading some of his other stuff to tune you in to what Wallace is all about. His short story collections are brilliant and much easier to read. The first time I read IJ I gave up, then read pretty much all of his other stuff and was so enthusiastic about it, I returned to IJ and found it much more readable.

    Although I love IJ, I don't think you should necessarily sit there and force yourself to read the whole thing if you hate it. It depends on why you're reading it in the first place - what do you want to get out of it? There are a lot of books out there that need to be read so there are better things you can be doing than sitting their crying your eyes out forcing yourself to read about a tennis match for half your life!

    As a perspective from the 'academic' world, there was a French academic (can't remember who it was) who published a paper about how the vast majority of critics of Ulysses haven't even read the whole thing. The point of that is that you can appreciate, understand and get something out of a book without having read every word in its entirety. To actually sit down and read IJ, without skim-reading and dedicating your full attention to it, would take rather extreme levels of monastic discipline and a sizeable chunk of your life.

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