The Infinite Jest Deathmarch: Stage 2

Toblerone, your highness?

Begin: page 49 (“Here’s Hal Incandenza, age seventeen, with his little brass one-hitter…”)
End: page 95 (“Steeply had found his triceps’ scratch and twisted the flesh of his arm to examine it, his rouged lips rounded with concern.”)

Start Date: 10/8/10
Finish Date: 10/14/10

One might feel a little bounce in one’s step after completing the first week’s reading. That wasn’t so bad, now was it? But I would caution, again, against irrational exuberance; there’s still a long way to go.

Leaving this week’s target a little short, rather than long, since it looks like we are about to start getting into longer and more frequent endnotes.

And a quick reminder: Please refrain from posting comments about parts of the book beyond the current assignment. I’m not sure the word “spoiler” really applies to this book, but people like to be surprised by things that might possibly be surprising.

Now if you’ll excuse me, all this talk of one-hitters and Toblerone is making me hungry.

14 Responses to “The Infinite Jest Deathmarch: Stage 2”

  1. Merle Baggard Says:

    I’m only on page 30. Will catch up by next week. I’ll talk to you about it tonight. Interested to get your take on some things.

  2. JES Says:

    I’m finding Wallace to have at least two distinct writing styles. One is rather schizophrenic and tedious, while the other is good solid storytelling. I’m never sure what I’m in for when I sit down to read. I’m wondering if some of the story/stories will come together in the end, e.g. the medical attache bizarreness. We shall see.

  3. BradH Says:

    I agree with JES about the different styles. Though I think there’s a few more than two – or maybe they are just sub-styles. Wallace’s storytelling style seems to have an obsessive cataloging flavor as well as a more traditional narrative flavor – compare the ETA drug culture description (or Incandenza’s filmography) with Gately’s break-ins.

    While it keeps the reading interesting, it does get a bit confusing. Combine that with the uncertain timeframe and the little slivers of fragmented story, and it’s not a little disorienting.

  4. Computilo Says:

    The first section is *making* me schizophrenic, and I am feeling very pynchonish about the story so far. I expect to recover soon and actually make a meaningful comment about what I’ve read.

  5. Debra Says:

    I’m liking Katherine Gompert more than Hal, I hope she doesn’t decide to go into a coma for a while.

  6. TheChaz Says:

    I have no idea where this book is going. Absolutely none. It’s such a detached reading experience. The writing is so good that I want to read more, but that’s the only engrossing part; I feel pushed-away by the direction-less-ness.

  7. Other Dan Says:

    1. from page 49 > i’m finding myself holding the book strangely indelicate. right palm up, wedged within, at the footnotes anticipating that i may need to push the guts aside at any moment, while my left hand is for pointing, page turning and to quell the constant fear of losing my place.

    this is making accomplishing anything else while reading, such as enjoying my siggi’s isclandic style skyr strained non-fat yogurt, almost impossible. even a sip of my coffee becomes difficult. i feel like the book is requiring my full attention on how it’s being fondled lest it snubs me for being insensitive and causes me confusion.

    perhaps it’s time to buy a kindel however i’ll imagine that it would become a much different experience.

    i’m glad however that there has been some consideration re: the 95 page goal due to the thirst of the copy.

    2. no mention however about the first stop in a drug addicts burglary, the master bedroom medicine cabinet.

    3. points off for wallace including the toothbrush up the butt photo urban legend.

  8. Jeff Says:

    I loved this section. But, yeah, quite deceptive with that ginormous filmography endnote. I still have 10 pages to go to hit 95.

    The filmography itself I found to be great extended joke. Was totally worth reading the fine print to find nuggets like “Narrator: C.N. Reilly.”

    I have both the iPad and dead tree edition of IJ now, but I found for the endnotes that the iPad version made it MUCH easier. And the built-in dictionary doesn’t hurt either.

    There’s something about his writing style that I’m really loving. I think Bill’s Pynchon/Ellroy comparison is right on the money and is what is engaging me—since straight Pynchon is a tough sell for me. But the propulsive force of the language here keeps me going, as does the humor. And on a more serious level, he really does an amazing job with the section with the depressive/suicidal woman. Obviously we know about his own depression, and his ability to convey that state of mind here is pretty devastating.

  9. Asphodelia Says:

    Going through this section again reminds me of how hard it was at the beginning of the book; I had almost forgotten why the first 2 months of reading went really slowly, then accelerated dramatically.

    The novel, at this point, appears really disjointed. Seeds are planted here and there and I wish I had made notes during my first reading, so that I could cross-reference names and places and themes; but that would have broken the flow even more.

    I am now reading Greg Carlisle’ ‘Elegant Complexity: A Study of DFW’s Infinite Jest’ – it’s absolutely brilliant at dissecting the novel and at making those connections I just didn’t make because of the sheer length of the process; no way I could remember all those names and details from July, when I started it. But if it’s your first read, the experience might be too clinical; I’m not sure.

    Anyway, still here! Just checking in 🙂

  10. Bobdee Says:

    I finished with this weeks read, mainly because of time spent in airports waiting to get on delayed flights. It was slow in spots because It has not grabbed me. It seems we are still in the introductory stage where many seemingly disconnected situations are described. I am curious about what is on that ‘killer video’, however.

  11. the RaptorMage Says:

    For the first time in lo these many Deathmarches, I actively dislike the book–and after only two weeks. I was only 50-50 on even continuing, until I saw Asphodelia’s comment about how the book picks up. Now I’d put the chance of me sticking it out at about 51%. Yike.

  12. Asphodelia Says:

    Raptor, I’m so glad my comment stop you from desisting from continuing with the book 🙂

  13. Matt Says:

    A day late, but better than never. I was cruising along before being ambushed at the end of the section with the lengthy footnote about Struck’s plagiarized paper concerning the AFR and Canadian ‘game’ groups. I’m curious to know whether everyone read this note (304) or not as it was a reference to read it off of footnote 39. This note combined with the very end of the section finally started to tie some of the story together which was nice because I was beginning to think every perspective in this novel would be unrelated. It was also cool to finally begin to understand the naming of the years and a few of the acronyms that have been bandied about, especially O.N.A.N. which has driven me nuts to this point. Also, this is most definitely the future; confirmed.

    I thought the Katherine Gompert section was heartbreaking in light of the knowledge of DFW’s suicide. It almost seemed that this is a direct characterization of himself and that he’s putting forth his own thoughts about depression. Especially this bit: “It’s more like horror. It’s like something horrible is about to happen, the most horrible thing you can imagine…then it’s happening, too, the whole horrible time, it’s about to happen and also it’s happening, all at the same time.” Yikes!

    And finally, the filmography note. I was initially wondering what the hell the point was and was close to skimming or ignoring the rest but I’m a masochist and decided to read every single word. I’m glad I did because there was some valuable information in there that was quite illuminating. I also think the information about JOI’s film career will become significant in the story at some point. Here are the notes I made about the filmography while reading:

    -Soma Richardson-Levy was married and then remarried, first to someone by the name of O’Byrne and then later to Ibn-Said Chawaf (presumably since he is also listed in various films). No clue whether Soma Richardson-Levy-O’Byrne-Chawaf or her husbands will actually be important in the future of the book.

    -a timeline for the post-Subsidization years can be established somewhat; I’ve been trying to figure out the order of the years and the significance of their names (this was written prior to reading note 304) and the use of the circular symbol that begins some sections but not others. The order of the years according to the filmography:
    Year of the Whopper
    Year of the Tucks Medicated Pad
    Year of the Trial-Sized Dove Bar

    Unknown place in timeline:
    Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment
    Year of Glad

    -at least one of James O. Incandenza’s films has already been depicted in the novel, ‘It Was a Great Marvel That He Was in the Father Without Knowing Him’ is the scene where Hal meets with his dad as the ‘conversationalist’; this possibly implies that more (or all?) of the book could be re-enactments of these films or that the films are pulled from his ‘real’ life

    -He attempted to make at least five films with the title Infinite Jest which vaguely provides an explanation to the title of the book. I think the most telling of all information about IJ (I)-(V?) is this quote about IJ(V?) that I feel will come into play at some point, or possibly represents the core idea of the entire novel: “West Coast archivists list the film’s gauge as ’16…78…n mm.,’ basing the gauge on critical allusions to ‘radical experiments’ in viewers’ optical perspective and context’ as IJ(V?)’s distinctive feature.”

  14. Del Says:

    quickly: 1)still very interesting; 2)move convoluted & so this section was a bit less exuberantly read (or at least it took longer); 3)loving all the humor, the words, the wordplay, the brazen potpourri of characters, the drugs, the death, the intrigue, the farce

    so i’m still mostly just putting in blobs and blobs of direct quotes just to let things sink in & appreciate. so here goes….

    ‘this obsession with the secrecy of it’ ‘Total utilization of available resources = lack of publicly detectable waste.’ ‘would make a lesser man quail’ ‘so the alarm’d sound’ ‘various apocopes’ ‘And but also…’ ‘whose wife needed valium even just to floss’ ‘…a dipsomaniacal tragedian progressively crippled by obsessions with death by spider-bite and by stage fright…’ ‘silent w/deafening Wagner/Sousa soundtrack’ ‘…helping incite the M.I.T. language riots of B.S. 1997…’ ‘as if someone had contracted her circumorals with a thigmotactic electrode’ Schtitt has mellowed to where ‘he’s mostly a dispenser of abstractions rather than discipline’ ‘So but when…’ ‘And then also, again, still…’ ‘And then but so what’s the difference between tennis and suicide…?’ ‘…as well as with certain adolescents with strong secret incentive to crawl on all fours.’

    ‘maternal fantods’ ‘spherocubular’ ‘comme-il-faut’ ‘pertussives’ ‘megaspansules’ ‘opioid’ ‘bolections’ ‘reglets’ ‘technically feck’ ‘convolved as a sculpture of string’ ‘uremic’ ‘leptosomatic’ ‘calliopsis’ ‘quincunx’ ‘mucky-mucks [my word!]’ ‘teratogenic’

    the Acronyms! ATHSCME, 2M’s, P.R. (Pump Room), P.S. (Pulmonary Sloth), MDMA, DMSO, MMDA, DMA, DMMM, 2CB, para-DOT, I-VI (etc), STP, DOM, CNS-rattlers, LSD-25, DMZ/M.P., Y.T.M.P. (Year of the Tucks Medicated Pad), P.D., D.A., A.D.A., HBT, A.T.F. (the use of ‘American Dental Association’ in close proximity to ‘A.D.A.’ – the latter purportedly ‘Assistant District Attorney’), 330 v AC 90 Hz, P.M.-patrol, E.W.D.-issue, anti-O.N.A.N., V.I.P., P.I.T., M.O., R.I.S.C. power-TPs, D.S.S., OTC, O.N.R., S.A.C., Year of D.P. from the A.H., L. of C. registration, B.S. (before subsidization – under President Gentle), EC-35, F.L.Q.-incited, NNY (obviously New New York), D.T.-cycle lithiumized annular fusion, MA, Y.W.-Q.M.D., P.Y.E.U., R.C.M.P.’s, CNS-rendingly, F.C., U.S.D.D’s O.N.R. and O.N.A.N.’s post-annular A.E.C., ARPA-NET, ASAP, ex-QB, w/w/o, CO-episode, MAOI, SRI, ECT, w/r/t, F.R.G.-era, BMW, E.L.D., A.F.R., B.S.S.

    end-notes 5-9, blam! and then END NOTES. did love the elder Incandenza’s movie repertoire. from which: C.N. Reilly (the Charles Nelson Reilly?) is the narrator of more than one of James Incandenza’s films! ‘conceptual, conceptually unfilmable. UNRELEASED’ ‘Hugh G. Rection’

    tongue-twister of a name: Trent “Quo Vadis” Kite (Gately’s occasional associate).

    the funny end-note on ‘NyQuil’

    Troeltsch & the face in the floor! Fantastic!
    ‘…the lumpy jumbles of sleeping boys’ shadows on the snuff-white walls…’ ‘the cracks in the venetian blinds that ooze the violet nonlight of a night with snow and just a hook of moon’

    ok, so when Kate Gompert starts telling her pot story I’m starting to think that either this is some author’s cry for help (or just an infinite jest)…? (note the ‘not sincere’-ness-ness her face keeps taking on). plus seems like one of the best descriptions of ‘addiction’ ever.

    the impact of the suspense of the guy who’s died watching a ‘video’, his wife finally coming home & finding him.

    the paragraph on Schtitt that begins & ends with the word ‘still’.

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