I enjoy a good book. I enjoy a good book before drifting off to sleep at night or when I'm eating my lunch or when I just need a break from the endless task that is trying to make something of myself. And since this period of my life is lacking structure, one might say, I decided I might as well make the most of it by reading something great. I remember the summer I read War and Peace and I remember when I read Anna Karenina and how much I loved the Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. How well I remember reading The Nicomachean Ethics my freshman year of college and being astounded by Aristotle's sense of lasting practical wisdom. Moderation, moderation.
I remember these great works because they were, you know, great. Both in reputation and in content. So recently I decided to try and pick up something modern, instead, and started in on David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest.
I want to love it. I want to get it, I swear, I do. But all I think when I read this highly-regarded novel is, Jesus, what an asshole. In fact, just the above linked desciption of the book gives me a headache. What was Wallace out to accomplish, really, besides giving people a headache? Fame? I guess so. Money? Probably.
But what I actually think he was after, was having stuff like this follow in the wake of his great American novel, a.k.a. his stream-of-conciousness, pain-inducing, very famous headache book. Which is really just a showcase of his vocabulary. Come on! A study guide!? You know he loves that.
Before you go questioning my opinion, which you certainly have the right to do, please remember that I was an English major, and whether or not I should like this novel isn't the point, but instead that I think I have the credentials to criticize, at least, and what is even more the point is that, to be honest, I don't want to read it anymore. I don't want to look at it.
To protect my pride I probably will finish Infinite Jest someday, because I started it and I hate not finishing books I've started (except for One Hundred Years of Solitude, which, I swear to you, I've tried to get through, well, one hundred times. I don't know what it is. Maybe it is just a really boring piece of crap, but I've heard otherwise - from the critics and all). But in the meantime I'd like to try my hand at something else. Something meaningful and important. Maybe philosophy or a memoir or a novel that will teach me history while telling a great story. Maybe Proust or Faulkner or Kant.
Suggestions? I'm excited to get started.