Its also predominantly why I hate this board. This board is obsessed with it for no reason. Everyone either says "its good" or "its the worst book ever written". I've never actually heard someone unironically say its amazing or the best book they've ever read
>>7660898 Okay, so this book is good. One of the things I liked about it was the amount of epiphanies that came from it, like the "oh shit, Lyle is an apparition" which didn't hit me until a few hours after I'd read the end. One thing I never understood though was what happened to Odin. Like, his narrative picks up big time and he is never mentioned again. What gives?
honestly, haven't read a book that captures that feelings of loneliness, alienation and a constant undercurrent of sadness that i feel in as precise and touching a way as ij manages to. dfw may not be the literary genius people claim he is (being quite derivative and spergy), but he delivers muh feels while still throwing in those pycnhon quirks to make the reading not totally trite and entry-level. reading ij, i felt like an author has captured the way i feel in a way that no one else has quite managed, and that's a feat.
then again i'm not super well-read and also exactly dfw's target audience (though i guess most of lit falls into this category) - early 20's overeducated lonely male dork.
>>7660898 I really liked it. A lot of the stuff to do with depression/anxiety I found moving & I enjoyed the way DFW explored solipsism and communication. Technically I don't think it's a very robust novel: far far too long, overly self-indulgent & employs a lot of pointless gimmicks and post-modern wankery for seemingly no reason other than to show that DFW knows what AAVE is etc. I'd probably have liked it less if I'd have read DeLillo or Gaddis first though.
>>7660979 >then again i'm not super well-read and also exactly dfw's target audience (though i guess most of lit falls into this category) - early 20's overeducated lonely male dork.
at least you're aware of this, which puts you smarter than 99% of dfw fanboys.
dfw appeals to a very specific audience and demographic. he's the very definition of a "period piece" writer. there's nothing wrong with that, but too many people mistake the alignment in their personal experiences with dfw's/what dfw wrote about with literary significance and greatness.
off topic question ( i don't know anything about literature or the english language ) why is blood meridian so full of similes? is that what they are called? I have heard "like a fairy-book beast" at least three times now. Is there a name for this kind of style???
>>7661062 >reading on this much of a surface level Maybe you're, I don't know, ignorant? stupid? But writers usually write with a target audience somewhere in the back of their mind. Wallace wrote for white, male, self-deprecating losers; Picoult writes for white, female mothers; Pynchon writes for paranoid schizo maniacs. McCarthy writes for people who read in aesthetics. That's not to say that he can manufacture an equinox or anything like that, but he writes like all of the above writers and more. Wallace does not write about loneliness as well as McCarthy - how can a writer possibly talk about being alone, when there is always the spirit of a reader? McCarthy's loneliness is in his descriptions. Neither does Wallace write about irony as well as McCarthy. Whilst Wallace uses irony to show its faults, McCarthy avoids it altogether and shows the American Sublime.
>>7660993 How is criticism of DFW for being a period piece writer not applicable to F Scott Fitzgerald? Haven't read a lot of Fitzgerald outside Great Gatsby, but everything I know about him is all about how he perfectly captured the experiences of the 1920s. Honest question here what puts F Scott on a level above DFW?
>>7662201 also, it seems scattered bc its a massive story. it starts at the end of the plot, with Hal fucked up from the drug. and it ends with Gately ODing. and the plot already happened by the time the book ends, since the quebecois took the entertainment already.
>>7660898 It was fascinating and had a good sense of humour about it, but overall I believe the book is not nearly as impenetrable as it is said to be, and the overall motifs and "plot" drag significantly near the end.
Despite the fact that the ending is easily the most critically-derided part of the novel, the book’s biggest fans still defend it as being yet more “brilliance” from Wallace. There are even sites, like this one (http://www.aaronsw.com/weblog/ijend), that elaborate upon the ending and fill in the blanks for those who didn’t “get it”. Let it be said that I accept many of the arguments on that page regarding “what happened” – or at least, I accept that this is likely close to the interpretation that Wallace intended (not that intention matters, in a larger sense). This is the novel’s most famous ambiguity, but in creating legitimate room for interpretation, the possibilities therein concern only the plot – perhaps a product of Wallace’s obsession with crime thrillers and horror novels? They don’t reveal anything about the characters (save that Orin is maybe a much more violent, malicious character than we realized) or the situation, and burying such details in layers of obscurity doesn’t really add any enjoyment or deepen the actual experience of reading it. According to his biography, Wallace internalized the old James Joyce quote about leaving mysteries for future readers and critics, but he seems to have misunderstood just what types of mysteries might comprise a meaningful artistic experience. Being obtuse is not the same thing is being creative, and turning an ending into a scavenger hunt and a chore is not the same thing as challenging readers intellectually.
There is simply no credibly objective defense of Wallace’s writing. I concede that somebody might “like” it, for one reason or another, despite its dullness, but considered from any impartial vantage, the book simply does not stack up. He has no sense for how to build images, describing far too much, with an attention to minute, irrelevant details and factoids that is almost reminiscent of the obsessive excess identified with high-functioning autists; he creates a vast, quirk-filled world, yet instead of exploring the larger ideas that might propel that universe into some kind of memorability, he parses banal, everyday matters one might find in those Chicken Soup books; his usage of endnotes is self-indulgent and worthless, for he uses them to conjure irrelevancies and shaggy-dog stories; his characterization is absolutely abysmal, for he has no sense for how to populate characters’ minds with thoughts other than the ones that animate his own experience, not to mention that nothing they say or do is interesting or has any depth; but, most of all, his writing is simply dull, offering none of the transcendence and pleasure that art – and literature, especially – is uniquely equipped to provide, for his is a generic, faux-Romantic view of a world filled with some sort of “aching beauty” that we plebeians all just too self-absorbed and facile to understand.
just posting by to say that thanks to lit ill NEVER read this book & probably not anything else by this author.
even though you guys make 50 threads a day about him, none of your opinions have ever made me the slightest bit interested. it sounds like complete rubbish; anyone who has read & enjoyed it is also complete rubbish - probably.
>>7660898 All memes aside, I absolutely loved the book. It was filled to the brim with symbols and themes, the observations on life were (for the most part) satisfying. The modern perspective on the world was far more interesting to me than the great oldies. It was sad, it was funny, I respect it and enjoyed it a great deal.
>>7662511 So Wallace’s popularity is the product of a lot of things: a marketing machine painting him as the epitome of college-style intellectual and hipness; a literary culture in which critics don’t or can’t do their job of standing between the public and said marketing machines and providing sound, objective analysis; an academic culture that prizes obscure and relatively inconsequential word problems over matters of substance, that actively scorns the immanence of great artistry as mere leftovers of Modernism and Dead White Male worship; a wave of sentimentality among twenty-something hipster types; and a celebrity-obsessed culture that values the artist over their art, despite the fact that it should always, always be the other way around. Through all of this noise and distortion, Wallace found that his work had an audience, and by appealing to the moral side of his readers’ brains - rather than the aesthetic/artistic side - not to mention the romanticization of his self-martyrdom, he planted the seeds for him and his work to be defended with a cultlike fervor.
I’m reminded of Howard Bloom’s book The God Problem: How a Godless Cosmos Creates, which revolves partially around the idea of recruitment strategies, fundamental forces in nature that perpetuate themselves by attracting whatever they need to grow and flourish. He mentions size as being a powerful recruitment strategy throughout the universe, and I think that’s definitely the case in the arts, as well. In a veritable desert of great, or even good, literary artists, Wallace – with the volume of his work, the gobs of critical fellatio asserting its greatness, and the hip approachability his words and public persona seemed to offer – stands out as a particularly tall sand dune, rife with potential for the mind to conjure mirages around it. There are those who would point out that the idea of his quality and stature is a mere hallucination, but trying to appeal to those dying of thirst is a lost cause. Either they will realize that that’s sand that’s sliding through their fingers and down their throat, or they won’t. But time is a wind, and even the biggest dunes are leveled by it eventually, leaving open space for newer, legitimately great artists to emerge.
>>7662466 A lot of well-respected authors choose not to implement specific atmosphere and don't dwell on person details. The book puts you inside his head and narrates the way which HE thinks; it's not trying to paint the world the way a reader typically enjoys, it attempts something else entirely
>>7662525 I'm not who you were responding too but I agree with some things without agreeing totally.
Let's leave out the vestiges of Dead White Males, yes the book title itself is a Shakespeare reference but if you think that Shakespeare was considered to be white in the sense of the bourgeois elite of whiteness that we think of that's ridiculous, in no way did he emulate the white blandness of what we think to be 'Dead White Males', same as the Swedes, the Irish, the Italians, so let's just try to leave that out.
I agree that the book appeals way too much with the same kind of crowd that intellectualizes Drake and Rihanna too much.
DFW is a genius, not because he was an actual genius, but because he projected himself as one and made us believe it. Let's also leave his suicide out of this. But really DFW completely tried to bring back the enigma of the novelist that had been lost by years of reclusivity by Pynchon, non-attention to McElroy/Gass, poor public personality of Delillo and the way literature began to churn out mass amounts of pulpy bestsellers like Grisham and Crichton. Infinite Jest is essentially a long reaction to Barthes' 'L'Morte D'Author', JOI standing in for the dead enigma of the troubled artist that has the ability to charm people's lives and even send the world into WW3 after his death. DFW for sure projected a ton here, these post-ironic ideas of movies that we'd all admittedly enjoy watching (the bloody nun or the Medusa vs the Oblisque) but are also so ripe for us to ridicule, some of it seemed scrap material for a story he could write, but at the same time it was inherently trivialized. DFW knew how to make himself seem a troubled genius, by being troubled and knowing what is expected of a genius, IJ is a genius work because he was able to convince so many people that the author is still alive in a theoretical sense, all by writing a novel of pure-length and tactful prose that in no way reaches the sublime quality we'd expect out of Great American Novelists (Melville had it, Faulkner had it, fuck even Pynchon had it), DFW didn't but so many still believed that he did because he has a few strengths that are magnified throughout the work: journalistic knowledge of capturing language and dialect, insight to depression that is accessible, quirky ideas that fuel post-irony and Mario Incandenza (if there was no Mario, I don't think this book would be where it is).
I've lost a lot of train of thought now, but I'll be back tomorrow.
I know I argued more for the culture surrounding IJ which you deliberately argued against, but I only did it to show that his unique talents were showcased here but lost in all the endnotey-pizazz, undergrad-pretension.
I actually see a relationship between Wallace and Dostoevsky. Both are writers of long books with these enormous deserts of tedious activity. Take the drunkard from C&P who sells everything of his family so he can drink. The length of and breadth of it, the recurring element of it all feel quite similar to the way Wallace in IJ might go on about a character and their compulsive weed habits. A point of difference is that Dostoevsky takes his world for granted, it is a world in which he expects his readers to belong to, where Wallace needs additional time to make us understand the world. Throw all of that together with perfunctory but bland writing and the often grand platitudes present and I think it shows how they are alike.
However the chief difference is that while Dostoevsky has psychological insights that delve so deep into the mind of the reader as to be enlightening and miraculous, Wallace just seems to have more specific insights that are only relevant to a target audience.
I just didn't enjoy IJ that much because I wasn't the sort of person Wallace had in mind while writing it, where as a human being a find the works of Dostoevsky to be infinitely more rewarding.
>>7662233 He didn't OD. That was a flashback he had while slipping in and out of consciousness in the hospital of his last major drug binge and when a friend of his was killed for ripping off the guy they were working for. The guy who comes to kill his friend in that part is the junkie who died in the yrstruly segment.
Gately may or may not have died in the hospital but it wasn't from ODing and he made a point of not even accepting painkillers.
I think it is more autobiographical than you would expect; its so sad, like so many of us, we wonder were the years went: there are two main story lines: the young people doing drugs for fun and the old trying to kick the habit. I think it is a very sad book, despite the irony, the complexity. I think it is an emotional autobiography, I think it deals with all the problems DFW had and would have.
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