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Posts Tagged ‘Infinite Jest’

Literate Liars and the Lying Lies We Tell

July 18, 2013 | by

The results of Book Riot’s “Books you pretend to have read” survey are in, and they’re explosive. While the usual lengthy suspects—UlyssesMoby-Dick, Infinite Jest—are represented, Pride and Prejudice is a surprise dark horse number-one. (Maybe after investing six hours in the BBC miniseries, people feel they’ve got the idea?) Other surprises include the relatively short To Kill a Mockingbird and Great Expectations—perhaps purely due to their inclusion on hundreds of syllabi?—Harry Potter, and, somewhat mysteriously, Fifty Shades of Grey. And this prompts several follow-up questions: When you listen to a book on tape, does that count? Is there a point at which, via osmosis, adaptations, and self-delusion, one can actually begin to believe he has in fact read a book, and is there a German compound word for this phenomenon? And what of the monstrous Mr. Darcy in the Serpentine?

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Infinite Pagination, and Other News

July 1, 2013 | by

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  • “Today I broke through the chains of oppression. No longer will page numbers tyrannize my life. I … have taken action,” declares one impassioned Infinite Jest reader. Would DFW approve?
  • Meet Flaneur magazine, each issue of which is dedicated to a different street. In the words of the editors, “The magazine is aware of its subjectivity. It wants to say ‘This could be Kantstraße.’” 
  • Yeats, Austen, and Fitzgerald: all bad spellers. (Spellcheck will save contemporary authors from inclusion, presumably.)
  • What do you read when trapped on a spacecraft? Garcia Márquez, of course.
  • With audiobooks booming, actors start reading. Quoth the Times, “The field is so promising that drama schools, including prestigious institutions like Juilliard and Yale, have started offering audio narration workshops.”

 

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1, Love

September 10, 2012 | by

At its best, my slice backhand follows the flamboyant path of a violin virtuoso’s bow striking the climactic note of a concerto—from above my right shoulder plucked diagonally down to my left shoestring. The ball’s tone is a hollow pok on hard courts and a chalky chh-chh on clay that dies on the second bounce. All these dramatics—mere vestiges of a time when I wanted to impress Angela, my middle school crush.

Angela played number one singles on the undefeated coed spring team at our private school in Princeton, New Jersey. Her long Italian American locks springing along with her high jumping-forehand, her second serve ball tucked in the spandex beneath her pristine tennis skirt—she was a vision of beauty to watch. Her movement around the court traced the Etch A Sketch path of someone fully in control of the game’s portrait.

In Lolita, Humbert Humbert describes how Dolores Haze plays singles at least twice a week with a classmate, Linda Hall, employing teasing tactics against her and “toying with [her] (and being beaten by her).” The particular beauty of Dolores's tennis game is, for Humbert, a prerequisite for an amenable afterlife, or so he whimsically hyperbolizes one crisp afternoon as Dolores plays in Colorado:  “No hereafter is acceptable if it does not produce her as she was then, in that Colorado resort between Snow and Elphinstone, with everything right …”

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Writerly Recipes, Great Closers

July 30, 2012 | by

  • Vintage book art.
  • The strange case of the Aleppo Codex.
  • Eat like your favorite writers. (Maybe not Fitzgerald. Or Ginsberg.)
  • The Boston of Infinite Jest.
  • The ten best closing lines in literature.











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    Literary Halloween Costumes; Romantic Gestures

    October 28, 2011 | by

    What are the most successful romantic gestures in literature? I need to win someone back, stat. Failing that, can you recommend reading to mend a broken heart?

    Levin wins back Kitty after behaving like a complete ass, but you may not have time to read Anna Karenina. There’s the moment when Little Miss No Name runs downstairs to say good-bye to Max de Winter, in Rebecca, and it happens early in the book, but maybe that’s not exactly a case of winning somebody back. I’m guessing swordplay and feats of derring-do are not to the point—so I would read Pursuits of Happiness, Stanley Cavell’s 1981 study of what he calls “remarriage comedies,” movies about couples falling apart and getting back together. First you’ll want to cue up the movies in question: The Lady Eve, It Happened One Night, Bringing Up Baby, The Philadelphia Story, His Girl Friday, Adams Rib, and The Awful Truth.

    If that doesn’t give you any ideas, readers of this column will guess my first recommendation: the wacky but wise self-help book Love and Limerence, also Ovid’s Cure for Love—full of useful advice, like: focus on the beloved’s physical imperfections—and George Jones, opera omnia.

    Do you think joining a private social club—a super old-fashioned one in a historic building whose members have all led long, literary lives—sounds (a) retro and totally cool, or (b) stodgy and a little weird, a misplaced desire for a twenty-something who might be the clubs only member under sixty, and only Jew in history?

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    Cycling; Second-person Narration

    October 21, 2011 | by

    I love both reading and cycling. Can you recommend some great titles? —Monica

    To answer this one, I consulted our resident cyclist, Peter Conroy. And did he deliver! Says Peter:

    With respect to the classics, the discussion has to start with Tim Krabbe’s The Rider, a fictionalized account of a one-day amateur race in 1978. Brutish and beautiful, this is required reading for anyone who’s ever wanted to go faster. Daniel Coyle’s Lance Armstrongs War is a fascinating tour through the bizarre world of pro cycling in the aughts and a great portrait of the man who systematically dominated its hardest race from 1999 to 2005. More recently, Timm Kolln’s The Peloton is a stunning collection of photos and remarkably candid interviews with a generation of professional racers.

    I feel I’m the lone standout in my book club of highly educated, highly literary, middle-aged ladies. I never took a literature class in college, and I like a good page-turner with a bit of plot and action. I also believe a good read doesn’t, by definition, leave its reader utterly depressed! So far, judging by the other members’ selections, it seems that I’m the only one who feels this way. It’s my turn to pick a book. Can you suggest something that will please us all?

    The divide between “literary fiction” and “good reads” isn’t as stark as it sometimes seems—recent Booker controversies to the contrary! You have loads of options. After all, who doesn’t love a page-turner now and then? You don’t mention whether your book club is geared more toward new fiction or classics, but if you can take the latter route, you can’t go wrong with Dickens. Have you read Bleak House? A few newer titles that spring to mind: The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, Never Let Me Go, The Magician’s Assistant, and—while it may seem intimidating on the face of it—Infinite Jest. All a pleasure to read with plenty of fodder for discussion.

    In this magazine, Gore Vidal once said, “The second person certainly holds few charms.” What is your opinion of second-person narration?

    Tricky. I think the great second-person book list may begin and end with Absalom, Absalom! That said, I’m willing to hear a case made for Bright Lights, Big City.

    Have a question for the editors of The Paris Review? E-mail us.

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