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Infinite Jest at the Halfway Point

The plot is starting to develop.

Yes, I’m 500 pages into this book, and the plot is starting to develop.

I’m trusting that David Foster Wallace knows what he’s doing. To this point, it seems that the first half of the novel is focused on character development—the focal points being Hal Incandenza at the Enfield Tennis Academy, Don Gately at a Boston Drug Rehab Center, a guy named Marathe who is part of a group of wheelchair terrorists, and a “quadruple agent” (pretending to pretend to be a double agent) named Steeply who is dressed in drag.

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The Blah Story is Full of Blah

You can’t make this stuff up.

I stumbled across this last month while we were discussing the longest novels in literature. An “author” named Nigel Tomm “wrote” a “book” that consists of 23 volumes, 11,338,105 words, 61,745,771 characters (with spaces), and 17,868 pages.

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Who is the King (or Queen) of the Long Sentence?

I haven’t hidden the fact that I wasn’t a fan of Mrs. Dallowaywhich is currently last in my rankings of the books I’ve read to this pointInterestingly, though, I’ve noticed some similarities between Mrs. Dalloway and Infinite Jest.

Both David Foster Wallace and Virginia Woolf didn’t mind writing a sentence with hundreds of words. I believe a couple of sentences in Infinite Jest last more than a full page.

But the difference being, in my opinion, that David Foster Wallace’s long sentences actually make sense to my small brain.

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What Is One Book You’ll Never Read?

We talk a lot on this blog about books we love. I could write all day about To Kill A Mockingbird or I, Claudius or any of the books currently in my top 5.

But here’s a topic of discussion for the weekend. What are some books that you know you’ll never read?

Maybe a book intimidates you, maybe it’s too vulgar or graphic, maybe it’s too “girly” or brutish, or maybe you just flat out don’t want to read it. You’ve got bias. I’ve got bias. There’s got to be one book out there that makes you throw up in your mouth a little bit.

I’ll start. I know, for a fact, that I’ll never read any book from the Twilight series. Sorry if I offend anyone. Stephanie Meyer has made a pretty penny off that series, and good for her. But I just have no interest in teenage vampire romances. Who knew that could even become a genre?

Now, your turn. What is one book you’ll never read, and why?

Dear Pretentious Reader: This One’s For You

You know the person. He or she professes to have read everything you ever mention. Everything. Even the obscure out-of-print German romance novel from the 1960s–you know, the one with the protagonist named Bjorn.

Here’s a great little skit from the hilarious show, Portlandia, that mocks said pretentious reader.

Is there a pretentious reader in your life?


How David Foster Wallace Brought Me To Tears

This guy could like write. (Photo via Steve Rhodes/Flickr)

Since I started 101 Books, I recall tearing up only once while reading–that was during one dreadfully depressing passage in Rabbit, Run.

It really takes a lot for a book to make my tear glands kick into gear. Although, I’ll admit that, after having a kid, I’m more prone to drop a happy tear every now and then for whatever reason.

There’s one passage in Infinite Jest that achieved that feat. At this point, I don’t even know how essential this passage was to the plot as a whole, but I only know it moved me.

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Margaret Mitchell Manuscript Avoids Tara-Like Fate

Way back in November, before most of you knew this blog existed, I reviewed an obscure little novel called Gone With The Wind. Heard of it?

Margaret Mitchell’s southern classic was book #5 for me–and, until I finish Infinite Jest, the longest novel I’ve read.  Anyway, the book has been in the news recently because the last four chapters of the original manuscript–once thought to be burned–have been discovered at a small library in Connecticut.

The story goes that Margaret Mitchell thought all of her work should be judged in final, not draft, form and she directed her husband to burn all of her early manuscripts after she died. Well he did that, almost.

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