howling fantods, pt. 1 of many

Right on schedule, I started Infinite Jest on Sunday morning. Concerned about the raucous beating that being schlepped around by bike in my bag doles out to absolutely everything I own, I cut up a brown paper bag and swaddled my book in it. The bag-cover has turned out to be very convenient for noting down memorable pages and scenes and the page numbers of like the chronology of subsidized time and the J.O. Incandenza filmography and other things I want to revisit. The pages of my copy are pleasantly yellowed and otherwise unmarked.

So far my casual hypothesis that I’d get more out of this book as an older young lady with more life experience and a marginally improved vocabulary has been borne out. I don’t think I could have predicted the surge of affection I felt towards Mario when he made his first appearance, though; I’d forgotten how fond I am of that guy. Also reading Infinite Jest in the age of Wikipedia has some advantages: I was able to confirm that the Bolex camera Mario uses looks basically exactly like I’d already imagined. Also also it’s nice to have been to Boston, if only for a few days last year, because now things like Allston and the green line are sort of more meaningful, placed in their geography. A whole ‘nother rumination is how investigating the geography of a novel alters one’s reading of it: last week as I finished Proust, nickd pulled up the Champs-Élysées on Google Maps and we wandered around where the narrator and Gilberte had their games. While it was exciting to see images of this place as it is now, I think I prefer just to imagine it as it was described a century ago, just as it sometimes makes more sense to imagine a wholly different dystopian near-future Boston than it does to graft the events of Infinite Jest onto a real place from my memory.

Also on the beloved-works-of-fiction theme although otherwise unrelated to basically everything, the short story in last week’s New Yorker is a sequel of sorts to my favorite Flannery O’Connor story (which basically I am saying “my favorite short story,” because Flannery O’Connor is pretty much the defending world champion of the form, in my mind), which story is called Parker’s Back, and if you have not already read it a couple times over, get away from the computer right now and get to a library or your local independent book retailer or whatnot. That is all.


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