Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
It's 220am, months after I first picked this book up (again, for a third attempt) and I've finally finished the thing. First thing I did was Google "ending explained" 'cause I'm dumb, and I get to an explanation written by Aaron Swartz -- an idealist programmer I used to follow, who killed himself after a dramatic copyright legal battle. So that's weird. And Swartz's concise explanation of the plot, which I make the distinction by mentioning "the plot" so as to contrast against all the themes of and observations made within the book, which are seemingly more significant and yet also frustratingly disconnected from the plot (or the veneer of the plot), Swartz's explanation of the plot is completely foreign to me and yet seems right. Like he saw connections I did not, and thus extracted a sound story out of the thing where I didn't. So maybe I'm dumb. But reflecting back, I don't see how you can understand the plot of this thing without having read it more than once, given how non-linear so much of it is. So I'm meant to read this brick more than once? That seems pretentious on the author's part.
But then again: here I am analyzing how the book worked and what it did for me, which is a category of thought, a style of postmodern analysis talked about in the book. And so I can't help but wonder if this frustration is the very thing DFW tried to evoke. And so now I'm left thinking the thing is brilliant regardless of how much seemed to go over my head.
Similarly, for all the times I've bitched about reality TV being lowest common denominator garbage, or single dimension drama being predictable, here's a book which is sophisticated enough to keep me interested and engaged and confused due to my own lack of ability, i.e. something I've been craving and also the point of The Infinite Jest (the film for which the book is titled) itself. So there's another effect, which at first I thought was too on the nose when I noticed it, but now that I'm sitting here frustrated, feels like it worked. And so again, I'm left thinking thing plot is a brilliant mechanism.
Rambling, 'cause I'm exhausted.
Then there's all the themes and psychological explanations that cut deep.
More to come...