So a few years back my web sibling Cecil Vortex started hosting group reads of difficult tomes that we dubbed the Deathmarches. Working as a group, 50 pages or so at a time, we conquered such intimidating doorstops as Gravity’s Rainbow, Don Quixote, Against the Day, and most recently The Brothers Karamazov.
Well, Cecil is a busy man with lots of responsibilties. Not so yours truly. So for awhile we have been bandying about the idea of my guest-hosting the next Deathmarch, and the first thought that occurred to me was David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, precisely the sort of brain-taxing opus for which the Deathmarch was designed. I actually bought a copy in a moment of crazed optimism about a year ago, and it has been sitting atop my bookshelf ever since, quietly mocking me.
The only way it will ever get read, I think, is with the support and companionship of a brave band of fellow (and lady) readers. So after much discussion with various parties, we have tentatively scheduled the beginning of the Infinite Jest Deathmarch for Friday, October 1. Basically the way this deal works is:
1. We set a target every week of ~50 pages.
2. You read.
3. At the end of the week you post a comment to let us know how you’re doing and share whatever pithy insights you may have.
4. Eventually we finish the book and you get some sort of prize. Cecil, a generous soul, usually springs for mugs or magnets; you can expect no such generosity here. Your prize is the satisfaction of having mastered a Major work of modern Literature, and the respect, acclaim, and increased sex appeal that accompanies same. This could change if things go well between now and then; we’ll see.
If you are interested in joining, please leave a comment below to that effect. This is not a legally binding commitment in any state except maybe Arizona. I look forward to your company on the road ahead.
But of course: I’m in! Hoping to pick up my copy today and then look at it with fear and/or loathing for the next 2 weeks…
Now I just need to decide if I want to buy and lug that monster around, or just get it for my iPad. 🙂
This is probably an ideal book for the electronic reading, on account of the copious endnotes. Not that I would ever do such a thing myself. (Besides, I already shelled out for the brick.)
Omigod! YES! Thank you thank you.
Deciding to be “in”: easy. Deciding whether to read dead-tree or iPhone: hard.
O.K. I’m IN. But will I understand it? I’m going to get a jump on it so I won’t be left behind. Thanks for keeping me in the loop.
What a perfect choice for a deathmarch. Seems like a book that requires a support group. Count me in.
I just started it a few days ago, and was thinking a reading group would be helpful. Yay for synchronicity.
I have to admit I didn’t finish the last deathmarch, but I’ll give this one a try.
This sounds perfect! Count me in!
I read it about 10 years ago, but it’s high time I did so again. I’m in.
I’m reading it now, I’m halfway through but I’d like to join anyway, I can re-read, no problem!
Excellent! Thanks for picking up the whip and setting a destination. I’m excited to lace up my deathmarch boots again. We’ll see how I’m feeling by Thanksgiving…
ooh.. one of my favorite books ever… i haven’t read it since 2001, so maybe I should join.
Also, I want help with gravity’s rainbow.. . or an encouraging thought… something.
Kristen — here’s an encouraging thought….
I tried to read GR about 5 times before we finally tackled it with the first DM. What made it a little easier for me, about 100 pages in, was when I finally got used to the idea that Pynchon was starting almost every chapter with the lights turned off.
You didn’t know where you were, who you were with, what was happening. Then he’d start to reveal things, and just when you kinda knew what was going on, the lights went off again and another chapter started. That was disorienting until I started to expect it — then things became much more tackle-able….
Hope that helps! Great book, even if I still don’t know what the hell was happening on the last 40 pages or so….
This one scares me–a lot. I think my son left a dog-eared copy somewhere in the house when he moved out. But I’m in.
I plan to participate. Thanks very much for the note.
As much as I feel I should support this effort by joining, I looked at some of the reader comments on Amazon and decided I just don’t have the time and interest, especially with the fall TV season getting underway. I’m just gonna’ wallow in my Philistinism.
However, I will find time to follow the marchers here to learn how they are reacting to the book and to see how many survive the entire expedition.
Good luck as you set out!
I will try it. Worst case scenario: the book, which I just ordered, will cover up the copy of Swann’s Way I bought a couple weeks ago and have been using as a reverse alarm clock.
A deathmarth is too intriguing to pass up. I’m in.
Ooh. I think I’m going to regret this, looking at the six-inch-thick spine, but I’m… In…
I’m in. Tried, briefly, last year with that Infinite Summer hoo-ha but didn’t get past page 10.
All right, if Jeff can do it, I can do it.
OK. This is what I need to tackle this beast! I got it on kindle a few months ago and am still on the opening scene.
Yes Sir, if Mr Green is up for it, so am I. I bought it today for my Kindle and will have to figure out when I reach 50 pages (locations anyone?). I took a peek at the first chapter and it reads great, nice opening.
I’m in. I hope I succeed this time, not like the Karamazov Fiasco!
I’m in. Bought it yesterday and read the opener and first few pages. Looking forward to this!
I’ll give this one a go. I made a sincere attempt to finish the book several years ago and failed, of course. But this time will be different!
Count me in.
Neat! May, I?
I’ve had IJ on my bookshelf for awhile now and it was coincidentally the book I intended to read next.
Count me in! I definitely wanna give this a try.
I’m in like Flynn! Sounds fantastic!
in if it’s not too late