September 06, 2011



Maybe it says something about how little I read but I found Infinite Jest hypnotically fascinating.
Mind you I did digest it in two large chunks - a pause of a few months when I was about halfway through.
But I knew that I would come back and finish it when I got up the nerve.

ward jones

On page 919 of "Infinite Jest" which at times has seems more like "Infinite Book," especially with all those not read yet footnotes. But, I have to say I've never read an author with as much long distance energy and creativity and scientifically weird but seemingly accurate stuff. At times he's repulsive, especially when, as he often does, refer to bodily functions, and as frequently the addictions of his characters, knowing exactly which of the myriad drugs he describes, their dosages, effects, and how they're injected or otherwise bloodstreamed, this very sentence running on like so many of his do, which shows the influence a writer like that can have.



I like it.


It took me a while to be able to read Thomas Pynchon. But once I found "V", one of his earliest novels, I somehow "got it", and enjoyed reading his other major works.

I've never even tried reading DFW, but perhaps it's the same kind of experience.


I've tried to read and enjoy David Foster Wallace many times. He's a hack, but he has a complicated process and some pretty bold moves. He's much better than the simpering Jonathan Safran-Foer.

Sushma Joshi

Painful to read, impossible to dismiss. Someone who took himself and his writing so seriously you thought: god, one day this thing is going to kill him. That's what I felt about his "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again."

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  • The Elegant Variation is "Fowler’s (1926, 1965) term for the inept writer’s overstrained efforts at freshness or vividness of expression. Prose guilty of elegant variation calls attention to itself and doesn’t permit its ideas to seem naturally clear. It typically seeks fancy new words for familiar things, and it scrambles for synonyms in order to avoid at all costs repeating a word, even though repetition might be the natural, normal thing to do: The audience had a certain bovine placidity, instead of The audience was as placid as cows. Elegant variation is often the rock, and a stereotype, a cliché, or a tired metaphor the hard place between which inexperienced or foolish writers come to grief. The familiar middle ground in treating these homely topics is almost always the safest. In untrained or unrestrained hands, a thesaurus can be dangerous."


  • The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald


    Penelope Fitzgerald's second novel is the tale of Florence Green, a widow who seeks, in the late 1950s, to bring a bookstore to an isolated British town, encountering all manner of obstacles, including incompetent builders, vindictive gentry, small minded bankers, an irritable poltergeist, but, above all, a town that might not, in fact, want a bookshop. Fitzgerald's prose is spare but evocative – there's no wasted effort and her work reminds one of Hemingway's dictum that every word should fight for its right to be on the page. Florence is an engaging creation, stubbornly committed to her plan even as uncertainty regarding the wisdom of the enterprise gnaws at her. But The Bookshop concerns itself, finally, with the astonishing vindictiveness of which provincials are capable, and, as so much English fiction must, it grapples with the inevitabilities of class. It's a dense marvel at 123 pages, a book you won't want to – or be able to – rush through.
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    Tim Krabbé's superb 1978 memoir-cum-novel is the single best book we've read about cycling, a book that will come closer to bringing you inside a grueling road race than anything else out there. A kilometer-by-kilometer look at just what is required to endure some of the most grueling terrain in the world, Krabbé explains the tactics, the choices and – above all – the grinding, endless, excruciating pain that every cyclist faces and makes it heart-pounding rather than expository or tedious. No writer has better captured both the agony and the determination to ride through the agony. He's an elegant stylist (ably served by Sam Garrett's fine translation) and The Rider manages to be that rarest hybrid – an authentic, accurate book about cycling that's a pleasure to read. "Non-racers," he writes. "The emptiness of those lives shocks me."