Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Summer: nowhere near infinite

Like lots of other people, I started the summer with the intention of finishing Infinite Jest by the end of it. It's not going to happen... I am only 400 pages in.

I read like a fiend, but IJ is just so *dense*. I have had to keep taking a break. Interleaved with it over the last couple of months have been the following, all of which are a walk in the park by contrast and which I thoroughly recommend:
  • Consider the Lobster. Also by David Foster Wallace, but essays rather than a novel. I learnt things about the porn industry from its opener, Big Red Son (originally published as 'Neither Adult Nor Entertainment'), that I really wish I didn't know, so I might counsel against that particular chapter if you are sensitive that way. But the title chapter, plus the ones on 9/11, Tracy Austin and John McCain, are total blinding genius. 
  • Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played With Fire. I have a weakness for crime novels but I see it *as* a weakness because such books generally deal with crime and violence without doing much (in fact usually doing precisely nothing) to analyse the power structures underlying them. Larsson totally rocks on that front. Both adult and entertainment. 
  • John Le Carre's latest. I managed my first under-140-character book review on this: Slightly heartbroken at the end of A Most Wanted Man. It seems love will not save the world after all. Not much to add to that, except it's beautifully written and plays you like a pro. 
  • I think there have been a couple of others, but I forget them now. 
I am still committed to finishing IJ, mind. I'll get there, I estimate, by the end of October. We all need something to help us through the long nights, and immersion in bleak toxic dystopia could be just the thing.




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