The response to the Infinite Jest Deathmarch so far has been heartening, with lots of folks coming out of the woodwork to say, yes, I would like to commit the next ~20 weeks of my life to a cage match with one of the more notorious Big Books of our day. History tells us that not all of you will be there at the finish line, but I prefer to practice Positive Visualization and say that – to quote Funkadelic – everybody’s going to make it this time.
As a little warm-up before the official start next Friday, I’d like to invite you to read and comment on the introduction by Dave Eggers that appears in the edition most of us will be reading (you can also read it here). I admit to complicated feelings every time I see the name “Dave Eggers.” I used to know him, briefly, and have been somewhat nonplussed to watch him become the one writer of my generation who the average person could name. Not displeased exactly – I can’t say he doesn’t deserve it, because he is a talented and hard-working guy – but the schadenfreude, it is always lurking….
In any case, he knocked it out of the park with this intro. Reading it got me fired up about reading Infinite Jest and also somewhat comforted my fears that my long-suffering brain would not be up to the challenge.
Note that commenting this week is strictly voluntary, and not doing so will not count against you in terms of the Grand PoobahTM status one attains by commenting every week of a March. Now have at it.
I’m really excited about this as I’m actually halfway through Infinite Jest now, but I had that sad feeling on having missed the boat on the Infinite Summer experience and thought, ‘those guys were very lucky to be have people to share the ride with’. I look forward to ‘meeting’ you all.
Having just been in the city by the bay for Oracle World, I discovered that the “One Book One City” campaign in SF is featuring a Dave Eggers title. Looking forward to spending the first weekend of fall in the midwest watching the leaves tumble from the trees and reading the prologue.
Bought the book the other day with a 30% off coupon. I wonder who is receiving the royalties on that purchase. In any case, they got 30% less they they probably desired.
Count me in! I missed the Infinite Summer too, but now have the Infinite Death March to forward to. At least as much as one can look forward to something with Death March in the title!
Thanks Asphodelia for tweeting about this!
I understand schadenfreude all too well–plus there’s something about Eggers that irks.
I set the book aside for a few days. I was feeling overwhelmed. Jumping back in this weekend.
lovely intro — thanks for getting me to read it. Great, gentle, sweep you into the book with the tide kind of feel to it. Also, the font is very promising. Also, fun to see Pynchon name-checked front and close to center.
You’ve made a grammatical mistake, Bill. Should be: ‘because schadenfreude, it always lurking is.’
Cheers, nice to see you’re alive and kicking.
I’d do this, but if we aren’t even getting refrigerator magnets…Hey Bill, thanks for coming out to the performance at Live Oak the other day!!
I was just joking about the magnet! I just have too much stuff I’m reading to do any reading assignments. But I’ll try to check your blog from time to time!
The intro was good. I liked it even though I keep kinda trying not to like Eggers himself. The problem is, he’s likable. Damn him!
“This book is like a spaceship with no recognizable components, no rivets or bolts, no entry points, no way to take it apart.” My hopes have been raised.
I plowed through the intro and into the meat. I couldn’t help myself. The intro reminded me why I haven’t re-read IJ since I bough the hardcover all those years ago. The cold hard truth is that DFW makes me feel like a baboon. Theoretically, I write to pay the mortgage. With DFW having existed, its hard to imagine I’m a competent tool user.
Maybe I should read the directions. I thought we had already started. But since we haven’t, here’s my favorite part of the intro/foreword/prologue/whatever: Eggers is talking about a “silent legion of readers” who read both literary fiction (whatever that is) and non-literary fiction (everything else, including Harry Potter and Elmore Leonard?). Personally, as one who does read both, I’m heartened to know that I’m not a total freak. And, if we read only Pynchon and Wallace, what would really become of us? I had an English professor once for a Chaucer course who sneered at any works that featured spies (the cold war was a raging at that time). Of course, having wanted to be a spy myself, I was hurt to my early 20-something core. And, of course, one could say that spies are also found in Chaucer, but that’s for another time. Anyway, looking forward to commenting on the real book, starting TODAY!
I am from Mexico and had never heard of Infinite Jest until this DM. No expectations, no prejudices, nothing. I even bought this on a Kindle without ever having seen the actual size of the book, which in electronic form makes the 1,000 page obstacle invisible.
The prologue left me with a split message from Mr. Eggers, split between admiration of Mr. Wallace’s genius accomplishment and an explanation that this is really a down to earth guy whom we could all be going out for beers. Mr. Eggers did a great job of setting up the hard and rewarding road ahead. I did like the spaceship analogy, we’ll see how it holds up.
I had to peek in Wikipedia about the author, Mr. Wallace, whom I thought would be relatively young. Sad to learn that he hanged himself in 2008.
just a word to say that i enjoyed the little eggers intro & it made me eager to read the book. mission accomplished, i guess. so, is our first 50 pages due today (friday october 1) or next friday (october 8). apologies, if i’ve missed something. will start reading pronto. happy to be on board.