Wallace, David Foster. Infinite Jest. New york: Back Bay Books, 2009.
Reason read: I picked this up in honor of Wallace’s birth month. Take note of the date.
To be honest, the sheer size of this book was daunting even before I cracked it open. Add to its heft four complicated subplots, over 380 footnotes, corporate sponsorships, and a futuristic timeline and I waved the white flag. I didn’t feel bad about my decision after I came across a YouTube video of Bill Gates explaining why he couldn’t be bothered either. the one element of Infinite Jest I thought I was missing out on was all of the references to Shakespeare’s Hamlet. I think I would have enjoyed teasing out those details.
Plot One concerns a group of radicals from Quebec who plan a violent geopolitical coup.
Plot Two centers on a group of students in Boston all suffering or coping with substance addiction.
Plot three takes place at a tennis Academy in Connecticut.
Fourth plot is the history of the Incandenza family. All plots are connected by the movie “Infinite Jest” by James Incandenza, but are not in chronological order.
As an aside, when Bill Gates says he can’t be bothered to read Infinite Jest it makes you wonder why you’re reading it.
Author fact: Wallace attended Amherst College just down the road from me. The fact he committed suicide is a tragedy.
Book trivia: Infinite Jest has made an impact on pop culture with references in television and music.
Nancy said: Pearl called Infinite Jest an “excellent pomo book.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in one of my least favorite chapters called “The Postmodern Condition” (p 190).
When I look back at August my first thought is what the hell happened? The month went by way too fast. Could the fact that I saw the Grateful Dead, Natalie Merchant (4xs), Trey Anastasio, Sirsy, and Aerosmith all in the same month have anything to do with that? Probably. It was a big month for traveling (Vermont, Connecticut, NYC) and for being alone while Kisa was in Charlotte, Roanoke, Erie, Chicago, Indianapolis, and Colorado. And. And, And! I got some running done! The treadmill was broken for twenty days but in the last eleven days I eked out 12.2 miles. Meh. It’s something. Speaking of something, here are the books:
- African Queen by C.S. Forester
- Antonia Saw the Oryx First by Maria Thomas
- Shine On, Bright and Dangerous Object by Laurie Colwin
- Strong Motion by Jonathan Frazen
- Beauty by Robin McKinley
- Bronx Masquerade by Nikki Grimes
- American Chica by Marie Arana
- Florence Nightingale by Mark Bostridge
- Secret Life of Lobsters by Trevor Corson
- Die Trying by Lee Child
- Foundation’s Edge by Isaac Asimov
Early Review cleanup:
- Filling in the Pieces by Isaak Sturm
- Open Water by Mikael Rosen
Franzen, Jonathan. Strong Motion. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1992.
Reason read: Franzen’s birth month is August.
I will say right off the bat that I did not particularly enjoy Strong Motion. There were chapters I definitely liked better than others. Had the plot been reduced to two or three story lines I think I would have liked it more. As it was, there was a lot going on in Strong Motion and I found myself bogged down by the verbose language and getting distracted very easily. The beginning of the book starts off simple enough. Louis Holland arrives in Boston right before a series of earthquakes start plaguing eastern Massachusetts. The first quake kills his wealthy grandmother, Rita Kernaghan, in a freak accident while no one else is even injured. From the moment you meet Louis you sense there is something off-centered or even dangerous about him. You don’t know whether to like him or not. He becomes fixated on his grandmother’s inheritance of twenty two million dollars. A battle ensues between him and his parents and sister for control of the money. In the meanwhile he has to balance his attraction to a Harvard seismologist studying the tremors that rock the eastern side of Massachusetts. Renee Seitchek knows the earthquakes are more than just a natural phenomenon (since when has the eastern seaboard been a hotbed for shifting earth?) and soon her focus is on Sweeting-Aldren, a petrochemical and weapons manufacturer, as the culprit. Is it possible they drilled holes deep enough to bury toxic waste causing Teutonic plates to collide? Throw in feminist issues, pro-life controversies, capitalist greed, attempted murder and environmental degradation and you have the whole of Strong Motion. Amidst apocalyptic chaos of epic proportions the Red Sox are in first place…
Author fact: Frazen demonstrates his knowledge of Massachusetts by carelessly tossing out names of towns like Waltham and Somerville.
Book trivia: Strong Motion is Franzen’s second novel.
Nancy said: Pearl called Strong Motion an excellent pomo book.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “The Postmodern Condition” (p 190).
A new year deserves new things; new ways of thinking and new ways of doing. Here is the list I promised in December. Instead of separating the list into “finished” and “still to go”, I thought for this go-round I would just cross off the titles I finished. This system will force me to stay on top of the books I add, but we’ll see…Just testing something…
As an aside, I gave up completely on Robert Jordan. Sorry.
Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan (DNF)
In a Strange City by Laura Lippman
- By a Spider’s Thread by Laura Lippman (AB)
Recognitions by William Gaddis (DNF)
Maus by Art Spiegelman
Lady Franklin’s Revenge by Ken McGoogan
Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao* by Junot Diaz (AB)
Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin
Shadow Rising by Robert Jordan
ADDED: A Good Doctor’s Son by Steven Schwartz
ADDED: Drinking: a Love Story by Caroline Knapp
ADDED: Ancient Rome on 5 Denarii a Day by Philip Matyszak
ADDED: Nero Wolfe Cookbook by Rex Stout
ADDED: Treasure Hunter by W. Jameson (ER)
- Maus II by Art Spiegelman (Jan)
- Wild Blue by Stephen Ambrose (Jan)
- Shot in the Heart by Mikal Gilmore (Jan)
- Greater Nowheres by David Finkelstein/Jack London (Jan)
- ADDED: Alma Mater by P.F Kluge (Jan)
- Good Life by Ben Bradlee (Feb)
- Underworld by Don DeLillo (Feb)
- Her Name Was Lola by Russell Hoban (Feb)
- Man Who Was Thursday by GK Chesterton ((Feb)
Fires From Heaven by Robert Jordan (Feb)
- Finnegan’s Wake by James Joyce (Feb)
- At Home with the Glynns by Eric Kraft (Feb)
- Polish Officer by Alan Furst (Feb)
Lord of Chaos by Robert Jordan (Mar)
- Chasing Monarchs by Robert Pyle (Mar)
- Murder on a Kibbutz by Batya Gur (Mar)
- Bebe’s By Golly Wow by Yolanda Joe (Mar)
- Lives of the Muse by Francine Prose (Mar)
- Broom of the System (David Wallace (Mar)
Crown of Swords by Robert Jordan (Apr)
- Two Gardeners by Emily Wilson (Apr)
- Royal Flash by George Fraser (Apr)
- Fifties by David Halberstam (Apr)
- Binding Spell by Elizabeth Arthur (Apr)
Crown of Swords by Robert Jordan (Apr)
Path of Daggers by Robert Jordan (May)
- Flash for Freedom! by George Fraser (May)
- Murder in Amsterdam by Ian Buruma (May)
- Petra: lost city by Christian Auge (May)
- From Beirut to Jerusalem by Thomas Friedman (May)
- Jordan by E. Borgia (May)
- Coroner’s Lunch by Colin Cotterill (May)
- Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese (May)
- Flash at the Charge by George MacDonald Fraser (May)
- Castles in the Air by Judt Corbett (Jun)
- Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson (Jun)
- Thirty-three Teeth by Colin Cotterill (Jun)
- Millstone by Margaret Drabble (Jun)
Winter’s Heart by Robert Jordan (Jun)
Crossroads of Twilight by Robert Jordan (Jul)
- Disco for the Departed by Colin Cotterill (Jul)
- Sixty Stories by Donald Barthelme (Jul)
- New Physics and Cosmology by Arthur Zajonc (Jul)
- Grifters by Jim Thompson (Jul)
- Complete Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (Jul)
- Snow Angels by James Thompson (Jul)
- Ararchy and Old Dogs by Colin Cotterill (Aug)
- Flashman’s Lady by George MacDonald Fraser (Aug)
- Possession by AS Byatt (Aug)
- In the Footsteps of Ghanghis Khan by John DeFrancis (Aug)
- What Just Happened by James Gleick (Aug)
- Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett (Aug)
- Curse of the Pogo Stick by Colin Cotterill (Sep)
- Flashman and the Redskins by George MacDonald Fraser (Sep)
- Queens’ Play by Dorothy Dunnett (Sep)
- Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood (Sep)
- Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie (Sep)
- Beautiful Struggle by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Sep)
- Then She Found Me by Elinor Lipman (Oct)
- Merry Misogynist by Colin Cotterill (Oct)
- Disorderly Knights by Dorothy Dunnett (Oct)
- Flashman and the Dragon by George MacDonald Fraser (Oct)
- Dark Hills Divide by Patrick Carman (Nov)
- Love Songs from a Shallow Grave by Collin Cotterill (Nov)
- Flashman and the Mountain of Light by George MacDonald Fraser (Nov)
- Pawn in Frankincense by Dorothy Dunnett (Nov)
- Andorra by Peter Cameron (Nov)
DNF = Did Not Finish;AB = Audio Book; ER = Early Review
So, right off the bat I see something I don’t like. When I add new books they don’t get their “day in the sun” so to speak. I add them to the list and then cross them off immediately. That doesn’t seem fair.