It’s been awhile since we talked David Foster Wallace on the blog, and I kind of miss it.
So, even though I’ve long since finished with Infinite Jest, I thought I’d revisit Mr. DFW today and take a look at an entertaining letter he wrote to an editor at Harper’s Magazine. His letter is in reference to an essay he wrote for Harper’s about Franz Kafka.
Remember the grammar quiz that DFW gave to his college students? He’s a grammar nazi if I’ve ever seen one, but DFW also proves that you have to know the rules to break the rules. And you also need to be able to explain your reasoning to your more-than-likely Grammar Nazi editor.
Have you ever heard of this thing called music videos?
I heard that they were a popular thing back in the 80s and 90s on a channel called MTV. Anyway, some bands still make these “music videos,” The Decemberists being one.
The band was so inspired by Infinite Jest that they made a video depicting one of the most memorable scenes in the book–the kids at the tennis academy playing Eschaton.
So maybe you’ve heard that a little film about Harry Potter comes out today? Perhaps?
The interesting thing about J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series is that, at least in my view, it’s hard to say whether the books or the movies have been more successful. That’s rare. Usually, it’s easy to pick one or the other–and, often, it’s the book.
“The movie or the book?” is one of those classic questions, like Coke or Pepsi (Coke), the Yankees or the Red Sox (the Red Sox), and hamburgers or hot dogs (definitely burgers).
I guess it’s not surprising that a majority of the books I’ve read on the Time list have been made into movies–some extremely successful, even moreso than their novel counterparts (e.g. Gone With The Wind and One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest).
I mentioned this on Wednesday, but for every great novel turned into a movie, there’s still many that are waiting for some creative screenwriter and director to put them on the big screen
Three books from the first 21 that I would love to see get the “Harry Potter treatment”:
Time to justify my rankings.
I update them after each book, but after every five novels I feel the need to explain myself—otherwise, I’d be like a college football coach voting in the coach’s poll (If you get that joke, raise your hand.) As always, you can see how I’ve ranked all 20 on My Rankings page.
So here goes my nonsensical explanations for books 16-20:
The last 10 of the first 20.
Well, I’m back live today. Thanks for hanging around during the week of “reruns.”
I thought I’d start off this week by looking back on the first 20 books of this project, something I’ll do after each ten reads. If you need a reminder, here’s my look back on the first ten.
Now, for a few of my mostly subjective thoughts:
Gravity's Rainbow: Still to come in the 101 Books.
Have you ever heard of The Stockholm Syndrome?
It’s the idea that some hostages become blindly devoted to their captors. They could be in the middle of awful circumstances, but the hostages think any sign of “kindness”—providing food or water, etc.—shows good on behalf of the captor. It’s a weird thing that the mind does under extreme stress.
Anyway, Mark O’ Connell wrote an interesting, and pretty funny, article about The Stockholm Syndrome as it relates to long novels (e.g. Infinite Jest). Earlier in life, O’ Connell despised long novels, choosing to read, say five 250 word novels, over a 1,000 page beast.
But things changed when he picked up Gravity’s Rainbow.
Before I start today’s post, I’ll openly admit I’m totally copying this idea from The Good Greatsby. And I like it so much, I think I’ll make a reocurring series of posts from it. I’m sure my version won’t be near as funny and insightful, but I’ll give it a try.
Here’s the deal. The cool thing about having a blog on WordPress is that you see all of the search terms that people plug into Google, Yahoo, etc to find your blog. About one-third of my daily blog traffic comes from search engines, so I always see some wacky and random questions and weird search terms pop up.
So I’ll attempt to answer these questions–in all of their unedited glory–to the best of my ability. These are actual search terms that found my blog. Let’s begin.