Monday, June 22, 2009

a thousand is a lot of pages..

i posted a few days ago about reading in the summer and my friend renee posted a comment about this: the infinite summer challenge.

"the challenge

Join endurance bibliophiles from around the world in reading Infinite Jest over the summer of 2009, June 21st to September 22nd. A thousand pages1 ÷ 92 days = 75 pages a week. No sweat.

1. Plus endnotesa.
a. A lot of them."

i am currently reading a supposedly fun thing i'll never do again, by david foster wallace and i really liked consider the lobster. it's just kind of sad to read david foster wallace after his 2008 suicide
so maybe i'll do this, but also, it's a really long book and i don't really like a challenge. it's also supposed to start june 21st and i'm already a day late.

someone else do it, and then report back.


Renée said...

I'm totally doing it, sadness be damned. I like to think that thousands of lemmings reading his book is somehow an appropriate homage to his work. I will keep you posted (32 pages in = awesome)

Renée said...

Update, page approximately 120.

I should preface this with the caveat that I am loving this book. Wallace has a way with words that I am enjoying - he's forcing me to learn new vocabulary, he made me appreciate a filmography as a universe-building technique, he has managed to strike a chord with everyone I know who is reading it, and this is literally 1/10th of the way into the oeuvre. Infinite Jest is a good read. It's no Joyce (no one's mind has blown trying to figure it out), but he feels like a good primer for Joyce. Ulysees is this particular (localized) book-club's next project, critical apparatus and all.

That said, it is a masculine read. I would put it up there with Vonnegut, Thompson, and Miller as one of the most masculine of books that I have ever read. Through discussion, a friend and I have determined that we like this sort of work - stream-of-conscience, shamelessly intelligent, introspective story-telling. It is good work. It is just that this kind of work tends to be so unabashedly male. It’s a lot like Tolkien, where there is only ever the occasional peripheral woman, because women are just so unnecessary to the story. Thus far, there has been only one woman’s narrative (the Wardine Section), and it is written in such a way that it is obvious that - unlike every single one of Wallace’s male characters, who seem to somehow be a reflection of the author – this narrative is fake. Not that the character is unreal. It’s that Wallace writes in pained, obviously-meant-to-be-fake Ebonics. Oddly, it was this warped reflection of a woman’s1 narrative that made me think that I would make it through all 1200 pages2 of this novel.

So my friend’s question is, where are the women writers?3 I know you’re out there ladies. I know you’re creating intelligent, introspective, interestingly written stories. Woolfe did it. Anaïs Nin did it. What’s been going on since then?

1 incidentally, also one of the few characters that does not inhabit a position of clear privilege – the novel predominantly takes place at a tennis school.

2 Footnotes included

3 I hate writing this, and I know that there is an answer. Provide, O Great Wide Internets!

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