Monday, July 4, 2016

Holy Shit I Finished "Infinite Jest"

Kaboom, baby - flipped the past page over in mute astonishment this morning.

Literally in mute astonishment. I was near the end of the book and was determined to wrap it up today, but the last page snuck up on me and suddenly I was into the footnotes. Surprised the hell out of me because I was so into it.

I began reading this book on June 3 - the first day of my retirement. It was my treat to myself. A book I longed to read for years after becoming aware of it, but could not because of deadlines and commitments.

Perhaps a touch of apathy.

The forward to the book was written by Dave Eggers, an accomplished writer himself. For one thing he is a founder of the magazine McSweeney's which is an excellent and quite humorous publication. It's kind of like a literary Onion - which is a very loose comparison on my part. Just check it out on line and thank me for it later.

Eggers mentions in the foreward that he committed one month to reading this book. I snickered inwardly when I read that; it was not going to take me a month to read the book - I am lightening fast at consuming the written word, a veritable virtuoso of reading talent.

Started reading on June 3 - finished on July 4. And I am retired; unlimited availability of time. I only missed maybe three or four days in that whole stretch.

Technically the paperback version of the book is 981 pages long. Truthfully it is like reading a 2,700 page book. It is densely written. So much so that it drove me mad at times.

One sentence can run on for one or two pages - non stop. I drink coffee or tea as I read in the morning and I like to time my sips at the end of sentences or paragraphs or chapters. Neat and orderly.

I was continuously forced to snag a sip in mid sentence. That drives me crazy but I adjusted.

It takes commitment to read a book like this. There were many times I wondered where the hell the story was going, but every time that happened something would make me laugh or surprise me or even repulse me.

That fueled me and kept me reading and I am glad I did.

I am into the commitment thing. Give William S. Burroughs a shot, or Fred Exley or even Jack Kerouac - these writers will challenge your perception of what writing is. As you read you will wonder what the hell you are reading and why.

It's good to challenge yourself - boredom leads to stupidity. Routine leads to numbness. If you read the same type of story, the same style of writing, over and over again, eventually you slip into a reading coma. That's when reading stops being a delicious escape and becomes just like any other activity in your life - a mindless exercise in time and life wasting - a heinous crime if ever there was one.

Don't get me wrong - I read lots of light fiction and enjoy it tremendously. Sometimes I just gotta have it. My brain is not powerful enough to digest a steady stream of alternative and/or intellectually challenging material. It gets all droopy and limp and pretty soon I am wearing my right shoe on the left foot.

But when I do challenge myself I feel good about myself. I like feeling good about myself.

The toughest book I ever read is "The Denial of Death" by Ernest Becker. Bar none. Holy shit did that book knock me out. I am certain I did not get everything out of it he intended and I promised myself I would re-read it but............... I haven't summoned up the guts yet.

Anyway, "Infinite Jest" is done - I have read it and I loved it. I don't know if I will ever re-read it - maybe when I get Alzheimers.

I have a stack of books awaiting my attention. I am in one of those periods where I amassed a bunch in waiting - at least five. This is when I am most comfortable, when I have a stack of books in different genres from which I can pick to match my mood.

I have no idea which I will pick in the morning. I will be quite disoriented - Carol starts her summer schedule tomorrow and the alarm will explode at 5:30. Any alarm that rocks you before 6:00 a.m. is uncivilized in my opinion.

However I will rally and be up by 6:30 because I am severely focused right now. Don't have to be in to work until 12:00 - that will leave me eons of time to read, exercise and................

I am excited. I am always excited to begin a new book.

For now I am going to enjoy the rest of this day. I am going to live in the now like it's nobody's business.

This weekend has been spectacular both weather-wise and activity-wise for Carol and me. Today is chill day. Sit around and do nothing day.

There is a Chinese proverb that says "When you spend a perfectly useless day in a perfectly useless way, you have learned how to live."

That is where I am at today.

Dig it, baby.

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