In Case you don't already know everything there is to know
February 1, 2016 10:24 AM   Subscribe

 
I want more everything
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:26 AM on February 1, 2016 [2 favorites]


This is as good a time as any to cough politely and drop a link to the playable version of Eschaton I worked up a few years ago.
posted by the phlegmatic king at 10:33 AM on February 1, 2016 [9 favorites]


I love Infinite Jest so much. I remember buying my copy of it in 1996. There was a Barnes & Noble or Borders near my office when I was working in Bethesda, MD, where I would stop by for lunch. They had a single copy that I picked up and paged through nearly every day for what must have been a month. Finally I paid my $29.95 (or whatever it was) and read the book cover to cover. As soon as I was finished I did it again. That first edition hard-bound copy of Infinite Jest is one of my favorite possessions.
posted by slogger at 10:39 AM on February 1, 2016 [7 favorites]


is a 20-year-old novel successful merely because it seems cleverly predictive or contains scenarios that feel “relevant” to later audiences? If that were the mark of enduring fiction, Philip K. Dick would be the greatest novelist of all time.

This is such a weird swerve, as if timeliness and timelessness were in obvious opposition, instead of criteria for different kinds of success. I wish mass-market pieces like this would occasionally be commissioned from writers with literary-historical or intellectual-historical perspectives extending beyond their own youth; the way Bissell takes the twenty-years-later perspective as if it were some unimaginably long posterity really handicaps his claims here.
posted by RogerB at 10:52 AM on February 1, 2016 [6 favorites]


Man oh man I wish I hadn't decided to leave my copy of IJ in the car when I saw DFW speak in 2004. I'm happy to have a signed copy of Oblivion, but it isn't quite the same.
posted by grumpybear69 at 10:55 AM on February 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


Whereas most religions deify only certain words, Wallace exalted all of them.

Most religions deify words?
posted by Greg Nog at 10:58 AM on February 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


is a 20-year-old novel successful merely because it seems cleverly predictive or contains scenarios that feel “relevant” to later audiences? If that were the mark of enduring fiction, Philip K. Dick would be the greatest novelist of all time.

Also, Philip K. Dick probably is the greatest novelist of all time. Or anyway that is not a straightforward reductio ad absurdum.
posted by grobstein at 10:58 AM on February 1, 2016 [8 favorites]


Still a key book for hipsters looking to "convince your potential sexual partners that you're an intellectual." (warning: Millennials of New York video)
posted by crazy with stars at 10:58 AM on February 1, 2016 [6 favorites]


in 1996. There was a Barnes & Noble or Borders near my office when I was working in Bethesda, MD,

But surely you bought your new books at Olsson's back then!
posted by headnsouth at 11:00 AM on February 1, 2016 [2 favorites]


aaron swartz's infinite jest explainer was helpful for me! (as was this one on joyce ;)

and, fwiw, i've been reading more about (a potential breakdown of!) the global tax system :P
posted by kliuless at 11:04 AM on February 1, 2016 [8 favorites]


Or anyway that is not a straightforward reductio ad absurdum.

Exactly: it's a thought experiment about his critical criteria that produces a prima facie reasonable, arguable, interesting conclusion, but he presents it as if it were instead an obvious falsification of those criteria — it's an efficient demonstration that making and arguing for literary-historical judgements isn't Bissell's specialty, while the later parts' simpler and more personal appreciation is.
posted by RogerB at 11:06 AM on February 1, 2016


aaron swartz's infinite jest explainer was helpful for me!

Wow, that's a pretty good, deep read there.
posted by the phlegmatic king at 11:21 AM on February 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


I've been reading it for months. I have about 80 pages left. I'm incredibly eager to find out how he closes this out, but frustrated that the density of the detailed prose keeps my pace even slower than usual.

It's amazing to me how much of TODAY he basically foresaw. The impending death of network TV in favor of downloadable/streaming contnent. The political rise of a power-mad huckster vowing to to make America great again by giving people something new to hate on.
posted by dnash at 11:26 AM on February 1, 2016 [8 favorites]


As a person w a history of depression and substance abuse, I want to say DFW nailed those experiences as if he had somehow recreated how the brain works in a way that felt superhuman
posted by angrycat at 11:27 AM on February 1, 2016 [13 favorites]


watch out for those last 80 pages
posted by angrycat at 11:30 AM on February 1, 2016 [8 favorites]


How serendipitous, I'm actually on my third attempt to get through IJ. I love the craft of it, the characters are wildly interesting, and yet my previous attempts always reached some critical mass where I would eventually think 'ugh more fucking tennis' and just drift away. I know, I know, there's more to it than that etc etc. I will persevere and scale that personal cliff-face of intense sport indifference, this time I swear.
posted by FatherDagon at 11:33 AM on February 1, 2016 [2 favorites]


Just a reminder that Infinite Winter started yesterday, so if like me you're trying one more time to actually finish IJ, maybe the group's reading schedule or whatever will help you out...
posted by palomar at 11:39 AM on February 1, 2016


One of my favourite things about Infinite Jest is that because there are so many endnotes it's impossible to know how far you are from the end until you trip over it and go "Hey, wait, it's over?". It's the only book I can think of where the physical fact of the book is a part of the text. (From Hell has a lot of endnotes, but the effect isn't the same.)
posted by Grangousier at 11:42 AM on February 1, 2016 [3 favorites]


watch out for those last 80 pages

See, I mean, I can tell stuff's about to go down, and part of me wants to just race through it. But I tried that a little yesterday and it was too frustrating. I was too distracted by thoughts like "why are you recounting to me the history of Gately's criminal background again? Didn't we already do this a few hundred pages ago?" So I put it down until I can come back to it with a clearer head. (Hopefully sometime this week.)
posted by dnash at 11:46 AM on February 1, 2016


Well, I guess we know now why he was able to nail the experience of depression so clearly.

.

I still feel profoundly sad about his death. I really hate to think of all the time he spent in agony while he was making me laugh so merrily.
posted by janey47 at 12:20 PM on February 1, 2016 [4 favorites]


This very helpful diagram (PDF) is available with a birthday discount here.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 12:27 PM on February 1, 2016


I feel like I'm in the minority of DFW's readers. I've read Infinite Jest and basically nothing else by him. I liked IJ, but not for the reasons others do.

Whether or not I enjoy a novelist entirely comes down to writing style. And I really, really enjoyed DFW's style. I think I mostly just appreciated the mental gymnastics involved in parsing his oft-byzantine sentences. Each one was like a perfect little puzzle.

I also enjoyed his universe-building. I have a ton of respect for any novel that takes place in a future that is neither more good nor more evil than the one we currently inhabit. Well, I guess you could say the future in IJ is not a happier world than the one we inhabit, but at least it's not yet another goddamn dystopia. Dystopias are an easy way out.

As for the actual plot of the book ... meh. I thought it was pretty goofy. The tennis stuff was pretty dry, but I was able to get where he was going metaphorically. The self-help sections suffered from a malady that plagues most popular works featuring hard drug use : the myth of No Responsible Drug Users. Once, just once (!) I'd like to see a novel feature a hard drug user who may not necessarily have their shit together, but at the same time isn't a total flaming mess hell-bent on self-destruction. Hell, authors write about functional alcoholics all the time. Why not a functional junkie?

Which is to say that I enjoyed IJ thoroughly, not in spite of, but because I enjoy long books written in odd styles. It was an enjoyable experience. I'd like to dip into his nonfiction someday.
posted by panama joe at 12:31 PM on February 1, 2016 [4 favorites]


panama joe - I share your opinions, for sure. I really like the complexity of his writing - I actually love that it took me a month of consistent reading to get through it. But I tend more towards writing style than plot anyways (oulipo, etc) so that made sense to me.

That said, before I read IJ a few years ago, and I had only read (and really enjoyed) his non-fiction. I think you'll like it as well.
posted by hopeless romantique at 12:41 PM on February 1, 2016


Twenty years and I still haven't been able to finish it. Maybe 20 years is long enough to allow myself to let go and just give my copy to the bookstore.
posted by merelyglib at 12:47 PM on February 1, 2016


Post-Modernism had one shot to wow me with one if its best works. After a thousand pages (including notes), I was decidedly unconvinced to turn to another when I had more Early 20th Century writings to explore. I will absolutely agree that it definitely contained elements which were predictive or at least surprisingly cognizant concerning the world twenty years after its publication, but as I read it, I also felt a certain degree of nostalgia. There are elements of the 90s, be it Cheers or a passing reference to Rush Limbaugh, that do manage to anchor the work in a place of time, even if it was flying into the future when written.

I was also surprised by the article's author's admiration of the writing (sentences exampled and what not), as I found the book's writing, more often than not, far more clever than beautiful. That's more of a subjective thing, though.

I don't know if it will continue to be held up as highly as time passes and it's forced to live in a world where it's one more well regarded novel among decades' and centuries' worth of well regarded novels. As the intensity built around it is continually buffered by the difficulty it poses to readers, be its chronological jumps back and forth or the artistic decision to hurl eyebleedingly long pages of text minus common grammar and paragraph breaks, it might fall into that category of "This is a great book, but here are other books which are like it or just as great, but easier to read." In the same vein, so to speak, as someone asking about As I Lay Dying and being offered a copy of Light in August. People will still dedicate themselves to it, assuredly, but it will loose that luster of being a book that must be read or at least claimed to have been read.
posted by Atreides at 1:55 PM on February 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


Thanks for posting this. I'm parsing it still for the bits I agree with, raise an eyebrow over, & want to think more about, but in the meantime, there's this bit that hit like a tuning fork (silly NYT website won't let me copy & paste, so I'll transcribe):

Here is one of the great Wallace innovations: the revelatory power of freakishly thorough noticing, of corralling and controlling detail. Most great prose writers make the real world seem realer -- it's why we read great prose writers. But Wallace does something weirder, something more astounding: Even when you're not reading him, he trains you to study the real world through the lens of his prose. Several writers' names have become adjectivized -- Kafkaesque, Orwellian, Dickensian -- but these are designators of mood, of situation, of civic decay. The Wallaceian is not a description of something external; it describes something that happens ecstatically within, a state of apprehension (in both senses) and understanding.

Flagged as felt, true.
posted by foodbedgospel at 2:04 PM on February 1, 2016 [5 favorites]


I sometimes wonder if DFW wrote IJ as an elaborate literary prank.
posted by humanfont at 2:22 PM on February 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


I guess this means I'm going to have to make another occasional attempt to get through the first hundred pages. I have to finish John Dies At The End and The Peripheral first, so maybe that'll be next. (Heaven knows John Dies At The End is in pretty considerable need of trimming, so I'll take that as practice.)
posted by chimaera at 2:24 PM on February 1, 2016


Post-Modernism had one shot to wow me with one if its best works. After a thousand pages (including notes), I was decidedly unconvinced to turn to another when I had more Early 20th Century writings to explore.

You may want to revisit that someday. Although they're often thrown into the same genre, I would never argue that DFW, DeLillo, Pynchon, Barthelme, and, say, Murakami are similar enough such that if you didn't like one, you wouldn't like the others.

At least give White Noise a shot. It's one of the best books I've ever read, and it's way more ... reader-friendly? ... than IJ.
posted by panama joe at 2:40 PM on February 1, 2016 [3 favorites]


humanfront, my grad school friend had that theory, in the sense that it was modeled after French joke novels that were popular in the 1800s. I don't know about these French novels, aside from the idea that Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story, was in a similar tradition and The Crying of Lot 49 is another example.

I will love IJ forever in part for the character of Don Gately, a man who uses racial epithets but achieves a kind of redemptive arc that I found astounding.

(as an aside, that character who killed animals with a satisfied "there" gives me, as intended I guess, the howling fantods.)
posted by angrycat at 2:48 PM on February 1, 2016 [3 favorites]


I would argue that the plot is not a significant part of what makes IJ an important and meaningful book. You could remove every scene that directly references the samizdat and the book would be no less compelling and only slightly less coherent. Plot was never a strong point for DFW anyway. He tended to write non-linearly, favoring the narrative knot rather than the arc, and rarely managed to pull together a satisfying ending (I recall literally throwing IJ at the wall after finishing it, though that hasn’t stopped me from revisiting it many times).

The heart of IJ is the character study. DFW's brilliance, apart from his linguistic skill, was in his understanding of character. The way people work (or fail to work). Personality as expressed through idiosyncrasies. The flow and recursion of thought.

DFW was very open about his belief that the purpose of fiction is to ease loneliness. Fiction opens the lid to subjective experience. We see parts of ourselves in the characters, we identify with their thoughts and feelings and struggles, and in doing so we know that we are not alone. I suspect that loneliness, in the existential sense, was one of the things that drove him to write.

Ultimately, I think a big part of what made IJ compelling is simply that it was so personal. Much of the material seems to have been lifted straight from his own experiences. The competitive tennis. The young prodigy desperate for the validation of success and approval. The substance abuse and half-way house residency. The black curtain of depression. The grammarian mother whose devotion is manipulative in its purity. The obsession with popular media. The (failed) attempt to achieve transcendent communication via art. If DFW’s other fiction failed to reach the level of IJ, it may simply be because he had never previously put so much of himself into a story, and having done so, did not have enough left over to do so again.

I was also surprised by the article's author's admiration of the writing (sentences exampled and what not), as I found the book's writing, more often than not, far more clever than beautiful.

I don’t disagree. In terms of pure aesthetics, DFW’s writing is not exceptionally beautiful. It’s almost pointless to try and pull quotes from his fiction—his sentences are long and unwieldy and tend to dance around an idea rather than embody it. But verbal acrobatics can have their own sort of beauty, and while he was certainly lacking in concision, his use of words was always carefully considered. Precise in terms of meaning and connotation, and not infrequently evocative.
posted by dephlogisticated at 2:57 PM on February 1, 2016 [13 favorites]


I have always admired IJ for the audacity of it all. I wonder what Wallace's relationship to his editors was? Was the brilliance of his prose so overwhelming even in drafts that the lack of plot, the seemingly endless footnotes, the length, were just indulged, or did Wallace draw a line in the sand and refuse to have it edited further? Certainly someone at the publisher was taking a leap.
It's not a book I love, not like Ulysses, or Pale Fire, it's more one of those pieces that gains in stature just from the accomplishment of finishing and kind of understanding, rather thana work I look forward to exploring again and again.
posted by OHenryPacey at 3:06 PM on February 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


> I'm incredibly eager to find out how he closes this out . . .

cue minor spoilers

Don't hold your breath, because, frustratingly, not all of the plotlines are tied up in a bow. IJ is a novel to be lived with, rather than read, and, like life, the end comes abruptly and somewhat unexpectedly.

Rather than plow through the book mechanically, counting down the pages and trying to reach the finish line, it's probably best to attack its 1000+ pages---actually, if the endnotes and sub-endnotes were printed in normal-sized type and included in the body of the novel, we're talking about more like 2000 pages, rather than 1000--in the fashion of one of its OCD-afflicted characters, obsessing over minor, picayune details. If you hit a convoluted sentence, chew on it until its meaning is clear. An unfamiliar pharmaceutical term, look it up in Wikipedia. A neologism from Randy Lenz--"scam gone rye"--commit it to memory. The OCD approach, time-consuming though it is, will make the novel's characters stand out in relief and come alive.

The NY Times gets it right when it says that IJ may be a book whose greatest strength is that it's a "peerlessly gripping novel of character." Everything else, including plot resolutions, takes a back seat to the players who trod the boards of its stage. I still think about poor Don Gately from time to time, wondering if he's made it out of his predicament, returned to his job, and gotten back on his feet again . . .
posted by Gordion Knott at 3:15 PM on February 1, 2016 [4 favorites]


It's really endearing that DFW not only uses endnotes in his personal letters, but also that he signs them

All Best Wishes,

Dave Wallace

posted by a halcyon day at 6:24 PM on February 1, 2016


Although they're often thrown into the same genre, I would never argue that DFW, DeLillo, Pynchon, Barthelme, and, say, Murakami are similar enough such that if you didn't like one, you wouldn't like the others.

DeLillo would agree:
If I had to classify myself, it would be in the long line of modernists, from James Joyce through William Faulkner and so on. That has always been my model.

I think of postmodernism in terms of literature as part of a self-referring kind of art. People attach a label to writers or filmmakers or painters to be able some years in the future to declare that the movement is dead.
posted by Lorin at 8:17 PM on February 1, 2016 [2 favorites]


At least give White Noise a shot. It's one of the best books I've ever read, and it's way more ... reader-friendly? ... than IJ.

Wow, did I ever have the opposite experience! I mean, acknowledging that White Noise is a little easier to read on the technical end, indulges just a little bit more in the traditional narrative virtues. . . . I hated that book. It just felt really sterile and "clever" to me, while at the same time not that clever. Smug. Wore its metafictional game plan on its sleeve but managed to be totally unconvincing. Like Doug Coupland without the heart.

So. Tastes!
posted by grobstein at 9:26 PM on February 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


Doug coipland without the heart? Harsh, dude.
posted by Keith Talent at 10:42 PM on February 1, 2016


As I age, I read less and less fiction. I still want to read IJ. I discovered his nonfiction a few years ago, and omg it's good. Some of the best writing I've ever read. DFW is close to me in all sorts of ways I only just discovered recently. So I really want to read IJ.
posted by persona au gratin at 12:49 AM on February 2, 2016


As to the ending:
“....there is an ending [to Infinite Jest] as far as I'm concerned. Certain kind of parallel lines are supposed to start converging in such a way that an "end" can be projected by the reader somewhere beyond the right frame. If no such convergence or projection occured to you, then the book's failed for you.” - DFW

I was numb when I got to the end, but for months afterward things would occur to me. Little light-bulbs going off at random. TV Tropes calls these "fridge brilliance". IJ is the best book I've ever read for generating these moments.
posted by domo at 10:18 AM on February 2, 2016


That's the cynic in me. Did DFW actually start the book with the realization of how he would end it, or did he just discover he couldn't end it, and thereafter told everyone that was the intent?
posted by Atreides at 11:24 AM on February 2, 2016


As long as we're including links to delightful DFW-related Net artifacts, it seems cruel to omit The Decemberists' video for "Calamity Song".
posted by uberchet at 12:40 PM on February 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


I wonder what Wallace's relationship to his editors was?

Here's a short piece by his editor. And a letter the editor wrote Wallace after a couple read-throughs.
posted by aught at 1:14 PM on February 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


>That's the cynic in me. Did DFW actually start the book with the realization of how he would end it, or did he just discover he couldn't end it, and thereafter told everyone that was the intent?
posted by Atreides at 11:24 AM on February 2 [+] [!]


Anticonfluentialism is like the key theme of the book. It's a book about things potentially, almost, but not quite coming together, about things getting three-fourths of the way there but that's it. If the storylines actually resolved and converged, the book would be like inherently dishonest about the world in a way that it very much isn't.

I am actively embarrassed by how much I love IJ. I should read it again, it's been too long...
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 3:11 PM on February 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


(minor spoilers ahead)

I thought the whole thing with the "ending" to IJ is that it ends at the beginning? Like, you finish the book, and then you re-read the first chapter or two, wherein much is explained.

Worked for me...?
posted by panama joe at 3:34 PM on February 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


Anticonfluentialism is like the key theme of the book. It's a book about things potentially, almost, but not quite coming together, about things getting three-fourths of the way there but that's it. If the storylines actually resolved and converged, the book would be like inherently dishonest about the world in a way that it very much isn't.

See, that's my problem. I think that argument can be levied post-writing. "Hey, David, you didn't wrap up everything in your book?" "Oh, uh, yeah, see, that's ah, on purpose, see? It's anti-confluential, so it's not supposed to all wrap up!" "Are you sure you just didn't know how to finish it?" "Um, absolutely!"*


* Conversation had between DFW and a close friend prior to publication, the conversation also contained a narrowly tailored discussion concerning the waffles had that morning, the state of affairs in Eastern Europe, and Pete Sampras.
posted by Atreides at 6:51 AM on February 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


See, that's my problem. I think that argument can be levied post-writing.

Well, you either trust a book or you don't. It's no crime or shame if you find it unsatisfying, and it's okay if you do when other people don't. We all have different expectations and tastes for literature. Fortunately for us all, there are lots of other books out there to move along to.
posted by aught at 6:55 AM on February 3, 2016


Panama Joe yeah that's sort of the structure of Tristram Shandy, iirc, only with TS there's no front-loading of the end.

The structure of the book also mirrors the deadly movie in the book in that it loops around on itself, where Hal's scene at the beginning is sort of a bracket with Gately's end scene.

This line from one of The Crocodiles just popped into my head: "Sobriety is like a hard-on; once you get it, you want to fuck with it." I really wonder how much DFW got into AA and hung out with "the crocodiles."

As a person in a wheelchair, I really appreciated that the assassins' van was pristinely cleaned 2/3 of the way up.
posted by angrycat at 8:45 AM on February 3, 2016 [3 favorites]


Well, you either trust a book or you don't. It's no crime or shame if you find it unsatisfying, and it's okay if you do when other people don't. We all have different expectations and tastes for literature. Fortunately for us all, there are lots of other books out there to move along to.

This is a matter of trusting the author, not the book. I enjoyed the book. I would love to see some note or comment prior to its publication where DFW actively discusses his intention of providing only the ingredients for a speculative ending. I can appreciate the ending, even if I found it a bit infuriating. But among the question marks hanging at the end, one went beyond the book. Perhaps it might seem dismissive or even insulting to those who truly value DFW or Infinite Jest, and it's definitely not intended to be. If one loves the ending, that's fantastic and it doesn't bother me a whit. But, I would probably have a more satisfied opinion if I knew that ending was always the intention or it happened for other reasons than stated after the publication.
posted by Atreides at 9:06 AM on February 3, 2016


So, yeah, I just finished. As in I finished reading the pages of the book. Resolving the storylines, though, I must admit completely eluded me until I read the Aaron Swartz explainer piece linked somewhere above. Which, I mean, I think is correct, but WOW I would never have managed to put those pieces together on my own. Some of that may be due to how damn long it took me to read the thing, since it was impossible to keep all those details in mind for seven months.

But I feel like in the bigger picture the "plot" is a McGuffin anyway. The overall themes and ideas of the book I think I got quite loud and clear, in ways that have been lingering in my mind almost every time I turn on the TV or pour an evening cocktail. It's the way he uses words like 'Substance' and 'Spectation,' that put these things at a distance and invite you to examine and think "what is this, why do we do these things? what's behind these desires for escape?"

So yeah, if as a reader you're more concerned with the resolution of the storylines, then this would be frustrating and you may have missed the essence of the book. On the other hand, I think you can grok the essence of it all without ever knowing how the storylines play out. Though, right in this just-finished-reading moment, I will admit that I would have appreciated a happier medium, where I could have managed to put the plots together to infer at least more of the rest. I may feel differently about that with time and rumination.
posted by dnash at 7:40 PM on February 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


I decided to reread it for what is probably the 5th time after seeing this thread. As I started to read, I found myself thinking about DFW's death and his troubles before that. I don't know if I'll continue.
posted by humanfont at 9:18 PM on February 3, 2016


Like Doug Coupland without the heart.

Huh! De gustibus, most certainly.

I kinda feel like White Noise was one of the more definitive statements of the broadcast age. For me, White Noise, McLuhan, Videodrome, Devo, and Network sort of sum up a media environment that existed mostly between the 1950s and mid-1990s.

Ultimately I think Underworld is the better book, but I would recommend White Noise as someone's first DeLillo in the same way I would recommend The Crying of Lot 49 as a first Pynchon.

Oddly, my favorite "postmodernist" is still Barthelme. Not a bad starting point, considering that he's mostly short stories.

Random trivia : Apparently DeLillo's original title for White Noise was Panasonic, but he had to change it because of trademark issues.
posted by panama joe at 1:01 AM on February 4, 2016


Ultimately I think Underworld is the better book, but I would recommend White Noise as someone's first DeLillo in the same way I would recommend The Crying of Lot 49 as a first Pynchon.

I could lean either way on White Noise or The Body Artist, but either way you can't go wrong.
posted by a halcyon day at 11:11 AM on February 4, 2016


Ultimately I think Underworld is the better book, but I would recommend White Noise as someone's first DeLillo in the same way I would recommend The Crying of Lot 49 as a first Pynchon.

I'll keep that in mind. I dove straight into Gravity's Rainbow, and though I can say I read all of it, I didn't understand it much at all. I might try it again sometime, though - If I'd truly hated it I would've stopped but what kept happening was every other page or so there'd be some wonderful phrase or image that made me go "wow," so I kept on in the hope that somehow by the end this great jumble of stuff would somehow coalesce into something I understood. Well, it didn't, at least that time. Another time it might - I had a false start with Proust the first time I tried, where I never finished the first book. Then I kept reading stuff about Proust that sound like "why did I not like this, it sounds like it should be exactly my sort of thing" - so I tried again a couple years later and lo, it was gorgeous and amazing.
posted by dnash at 4:54 PM on February 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


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