My copy of Infinite Jest came with a foreword by Dave Eggers I chose to read afterwards. Eggers said that after reading Infinite Jest “(y)our brain is stronger because it’s been given a month long workout” which I feel is very true. If that thought frightens you, then you should avoid Infinite Jest. If that thought intrigues you, read on. This novel, in one sentence, is about a tennis academy and an addicts’ halfway-house, both in Boston, through which Wallace explores turn of the century (20th to 21st) American culture’s obsession with success, entertainment, drugs and sport. In another sentence, it is about professional football and the art of film through which he explores identity, fame, sex, conformity and deformity. In yet another sentence, it is about two families, one successful in academia/sports/profession, another devastated by poverty and addiction through which he explores the needs for love, solitude, hope and punishment. The sentences could go on. This is a 1,079 page prose poem complete with end notes the sheer audacious artistry of which can grab a sympathetic reader by the eyeballs and the brain and never let go. I had to read it as a self-appointed word artist dealing with the limits of the novel as an art form. If that kind of thing intrigues you, then you already know you have to read it, too.
I wanted to write a classic regular folks would actually read. I wanted to write an adventure academics would find resonant with meaning. You tell me how well I did.