Monday, June 15, 2009

100 Essential New England Books

Yesterday's Boston Globe published an interesting link titled 100 Essential New England Books (page takes forever to load because of numerous graphics, but if interested in New England literature, it's worth the time.)

While there, you can click on those you have read and rank them on a 1-5 star system.

I was surprised to go there a moment ago and discover David Foster Wallace's execrable and masturbatory "Infinite Jest" is now number one on the list (the default number one yesterday was "Moby Dick.") Apparently, the page is now sorting on reader favorites.

Don't mean to diss "Infinite Jest" too bad, but I couldn't get through it and suspect that's part of its snob appeal. There are those who can get through it (and laugh and laugh at the upper class, tennis lesson, sleepaway school humor) and us peons who can't.

Only got through the first hundred pages or so myself, and have since actually and literally and without irony used the thing as a doorstop.

Did I mention it has footnotes? Hundreds and hundreds (and hundreds) of fictional footnotes. Not my idea of reading pleasure.

But one anecdote within will stick with me forever. The way I remember it, there's a character who is somewhat schizophrenic and believes that aliens wish to put him into a machine and suck out his soul or something. When he does eventually find himself in the hands of the medical establishment, what's the first thing they do?

Stick him into an MRI.

Now THAT's funny.


WWB said...

Actually, I'm of those who believe the lower-class halfway house humor is much funnier.

Anonymous said...

I think you and your opinion of IJ like, sucks.

Brendan P. Myers said...

Hilarious, and welcome. I wondered if fans of IJ might show up.

WWB: The lower-class halfway house stuff must have occurred later on in the book. I remember lots of tennis early on, though. Lots and lots of tennis.

Anonymous: That's why they make chocolate and vanilla.

I respect your opinion and recognize (obviously) that I'm in the minority on this one.

Anonymous said...

The Ennet House stuff starts relatively early in the novel, and you’d know this if you made it past the first several chapters. And since you clearly did not, make it that far, I’m not quite why you feel qualified to write a review, or like, judge it.

Brendan P. Myers said...

Anonymous: "Relatively early" in a 1,200 page (or whatever it is) novel, WITH VOLUMINOUS FOOTNOTES, is, well, relative.

I've confessed to not making it much beyond the first hundred or so pages (and believe me, I did make an effort to read it. I actually paid for my copy.)

Now, maybe it was just my mood at the time, or maybe it was the small print footnotes that evoked memories of required reading in college, or maybe it was just the alignment of the stars or my own lower-middle class upbringing just being unable to connect with his tales of upper-middle class, sleepaway school, tennis lesson lifestyle. But I just didn't like it.

I recognize that some believe it to be a comic tour de force, and though I read voraciously, I am certainly no critic.

But I just didn't like it. I'm glad you did.