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Home News by Category Infinite Jest Slate Audio Book Club Podcast Part 2

Slate Audio Book Club Podcast Part 2

I've now finished listening to the Infinite Jest Slate Audio Bookclub podcast (spolier warning - do not listen to it if you have not read IJ) [previous thoughts here].
It did improve, and by the end it I think they certainly encouraged listeners to read the novel. I tried to listen less from the perspective of an experienced Wallace reader and more as someone who has only heard of the novel.  It helped a lot. I just don't agree with some of the ideas and perspectives they considered. I disagree that the book is a mess, but then I have read it more times than the three times they suggest (tounge-in-cheek, mind you) that some big fans have. Similarly, the relationships between characters are strong, moving and intricately developed, not the opposite. As for the resolution. I refuse to comment specifically for spoiler reasons, but every time I read it I feel more satisfied.
The problem is that I'm sure I've spent too much time with IJ (invested too much time?) to have a balanced view of it any more.
If you have read IJ I'd encourage you to listen, if only to help you work out what you think of the novel.
I must also agree with their closing comments that suggest that after reading Infinite Jest the way you look at the world is changed. That the novel forces you to consider the world from new and complicating perspectives. It gives you new tools to do so.
I have not, since I bought Infinite Jest, been able to put it down for any great length of time. And with that I think it is quite clear DFW succeeded, at least with me...
Last Updated on Monday, 23 March 2009 19:10  


#1 Tetlow 2009-03-25 01:37
Somebody had already made the comment about how it's difficult to imagine anybody reading the entire text of IJ and being particularly bothered by the lack of resolution of certain narrative lines (DFW said himself how the lines all more or less resolve somewhere to the right of the text). What I'm curious to know: Does anyone else find the the platitudes in IJ, especially the AA stuff, banal or simplistic? It seemed to me that the Slate crew felt like the "lessons" within certain sections of the book (they kept talking about the Mario parts) were either obvious or at least not worth 1,079 pages. I personally felt like it took that much time and care and investment on both the reader and writer's part to build the kind of trust necessary to talk about that stuff, but that's just my opinion. Anyone else?
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#2 kategompert 2009-03-25 06:48
I am, honestly, appalled that this podcast was produced under the aegis of Slate & the Washington Post. The participants were so baldly anti-intellectual, even cowardly in their approach to the book -- I felt like I was eavesdropping on a group of high school sophomores, not three published writers. I was particularly irritated by Katie Roiphe continually describing to the gags and jokes as "showing off" and "annoying" -- no doubt that's how they struck her, but that doesn't mean they are objectively annoying and/or a form of showing off. Also, the observation (her sister's, but she repeated it) that a woman would never write a book like "Infinite Jest," as if that's somehow to the credit of our gender. But above all, their continuing insistence that the book has no ending, when it does? Unbelievable. It made me wish that literary criticism, like medicine, was something you have to be licensed in order to practice.
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