No Jest

R.I.P., David Foster Wallace. I carried his mighty softcover, larger than some of my textbooks, around campus for a month, slogging through its 1000+-page bulk whenever I had a spare moment.

I think back to where I first caught the wave: a party in 1996 with art history and library students. A guy upstairs was ranting about a book. I’d never seen anyone so gleeful and insistent about a novel before (though I’d become as zealous within a week or two). This kind of thing only happened for me with music. I’d stand in line for the midnight release of Wu-Tang Forever or In Utero, but I was happy to subsist on writers long-dead. I picked up “Infinite Jest” the next day at Elliott Bay Books, swept up in my first literary cultural moment. A book where burglars take pictures of themselves with their victims’ toothbrushes inserted in their rectums, then mail them weeks later to the defiled homeowners A book where a man kills himself by microwaving his head—and each member of his unwitting family thinks “something smells delicious.”

This post does a better job of explaining how crucial DFW’s work felt than I could.

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