There are two routes to literary immortality:
- Slave for years—if not decades—over a work of fiction so searingly sui generis, so well and truly fused with an authentic zeitgeist, so deeply attuned to life’s vicissitudes and the mysteries of the soul, that establishment and nonestablishment figures alike have no choice but to revere you and send you soaring toward the firmament, never to be forgotten.
- Hitch your wagon to David Foster Wallace’s star.
For the less ambitious among us, option number two has never been more desirable. To celebrate the twentieth anniversary of Infinite Jest, Little, Brown is hosting a contest: you can design the cover for the new edition, thus earning one thousand dollars and suturing your memory to Wallace’s own.
“We invite the readers whose enthusiasm for and engagement with Infinite Jest has shaped the book’s legacy to share their inspiration with us,” Michael Pietsch, Wallace’s editor and the CEO of Hachette, said in a statement.
Be warned, though, that the competition is stiff. Even before there was the promise of a four-figure cash prize and a large print run, fans have been designing their own covers for Infinite Jest. Poor Yorick Entertainment, a fansite, has a good sampling, including this design in gouache by Jennie Ottinger:
That was enough to make me give up.
For all the rules and regs—and a slew of dry, exacting legalese with capitalized Nouns of exactly the sort that Wallace loved to parody—click here.
Act now. This will be your best opportunity until IJ’s fiftieth anniversary, when Hachette offers a cool fifty grand to anyone who ventures to bring the entire James O. Incandenza filmography to life.