Infinite Jest was a title that rang in my head for some reason, so I picked up the $5 British pressing paperback at Barne’s and Noble while looking for something of decent length to read on my first post-college vacation in spring of 1999. On the flight from Indianapolis to Seattle (via Detroit) I opened the massive novel and dived in.
One of my favorite memories of the trip was lying in the hostel in downtown Seattle and reading Infinite Jest. Just out of college and truly broke, there wasn’t a lot of night-time entertainment available.
I remember talking about David Foster Wallace with my friend Nathan when we stayed at his apartment where I read the first story of ‘A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again’ and I was taken. The rest of the vacation involved hunting through multiple used-book stores to purchase the rest of his work. I spend the rest of the summer reading everything I could find by him, finally finishing IJ at the music camp I worked at that year. I spend a Friday evening in the dorm room while the rest of the team went out drinking. After finishing the book, I had to get out and socialize, albiet briefly, just to get out of my own head for awhile.
I remember reading ‘The Girl With Curious Hair’ on the beach at Interlochen and finally ordering ‘Brief Interviews with Hideous Men’ from Amazon when I had nothing left to consume.
Reading DFW made my brain echo in a funny but enjoyable way. The struggle and reach to comprehend was always worth the effort. It reminded me of the first time I heard Stravinsky and the opening bassoon of ‘The Rite of Spring’ ran through my head like warm water. Something about it just fit my chemistry and made me care more about what sounds I heard (and with DFW, what words I read).
Last week I was rereading ‘Consider the Lobster’ and surfing around to try and see if any new work was coming out. I’m looking forward to revisiting his work in the near future. The unfortunate passage is going to make the going a bit darker.
“This is water. This is water.” - DFW