Posted by: Matt | June 28, 2007

I Need Some Help

I’ve been reading Infinite Jest.  In fact, I’m nearly 400 pages in, but it’s 1079 pages.  Sometimes the story draws me in and I enjoy reading it, but sometimes it feels tedious.  The author, David Foster Wallace, was certainly trying to make the novel incredibly lengthy, and he succeeded.

He has included numerous details and facts that aren’t necessary for the story.  It is like if I kept a journal of my life and wrote 5 page entries every 15 minutes.  He also includes highly technical details, some of which are made up for the story.  It is when these technical notes come up that the reading become tedious.

I have pretty much admitted to myself that at this point I am reading this as a personal challenge.  I am reading it so I can say I read it.  Not so I can brag to people, but just as a personal victory.  It is not about the story, not about learning something about myself or the world.  So the problem I have, what I need help with is this:  should I continue reading Infinite Jest?  Or should I abandon it?  Is it worth it when I have shelves of books staring at me begging to be read?  I need some help…

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Responses

  1. Abandon please. Abandon!

  2. Read another text. Leave!

  3. No way! Abandon

  4. You ought abandon it.

  5. Difficult as it may be to do so, Matt, I’d toss it aside if it were me struggling that way. It’s the same old story of “so many books and so little time.” I’ve decided never to waste hours reading something for the reasons you just described when I could be enjoying myself with a book that better suits me instead. I’ve stopped six books so far this year and I think that’s a personal record for me. But that allowed me to read others that I really enjoyed.

  6. You’re HOW FAR in??? Traitor. I still can’t get past page 100, so you’ve done a lot better than I’ve done. I’m starting to agree with Sam above; I’m not going to push myself to finish it during the summer, a time which should really be filled with many great reads. But kudos to you for getting so far – needless to say, I’m jealous 🙂

  7. Yes, I’ll ring in in agreement. Once a book has become an obstacle course you’re taking solely for the sake of completing it, it doesn’t seem worth it. Think of all the actually enjoyable books you could count as a notch on your belt.

  8. I think I’m going to have to agree with everyone else and say that, if you aren’t enjoying it, let it go. I hate giving up on books myself – it’s always an agonizing decision – but I recently consigned The Swarm to my Dead Books Pile and since I’ve started something else I’m enjoying much more, I haven’t felt a twinge of regret. The reading life really is too short.

  9. Looks like everyone thinks I should stop Infinite Jest… I think I will stop reading it for now, but I do kind of feel like I want to finish it. And I certainly don’t want to start over, so it will have to be sooner rather than later. I’ll give it a rest and re-evaluate later.

  10. I’m not really following my own advice too: still trudging along with Don Quixote. (Well, not really, I haven’t picked it up in over a week but it’s still technically being read.)

  11. imani – I’ve taken Infinite Jest out of the rotation, but it’s still shelved on my nightstand just in case…

  12. Funny… I thought the made up technical notes were hilarious. In a twisted sort of way.


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