Infinite Jest turns twenty this year and, though the work emerged in the 1990s and though some of the ‘advanced technology’ of the time now seems old-fashioned, the novel remains relevant as well as fascinating, challenging, and ultimately rewarding to those who persevere and read the entire work.
Some folks are doing that right now. Infinitewinter.org just got underway with readers accepting the challenge of absorbing 75 pages a week (does that take into account end notes?) and sharing their thoughts and perceptions of the experience and the book.
There is so much in this book, so much extraordinary writing, so many vivid descriptive phrases that reading it only a single time seems inadequate. I underlined the following sentence in my copy when I read it, but how many sentences like it did I overlook?
“The river at dawn is a strip of foil’s dull side.” (pg 452 of the Little, Brown paperback).
Or this idea:
“The whole cubular building seems to Hal to hold the tensed menace of a living thing that’s chosen to hold itself still.” (pg 798, ibid).
The writing in Infinite Jest is the kind that dazzles, amazes, makes you laugh out loud. It’s the kind of writing that doesn’t need a plot.