Back when I was out hustling, trying to get Old and Dirty into as many bookstores as I could, I had an interesting conversation with a clerk in a store in Sacramento. We were talking books and asking each other if we had read this or that like a couple of pseudo intellectuals, and when the topic of David Foster Wallace came up, I remember the clerk raving about him and Infinite Jest and how it was so brilliant.
“Did you read the whole book?” I asked.
“No,” he replied.
Immediately, I started laughing inside my head and did my best to hide what I was thinking. You gotta be kidding me, I thought. All these people. All these books. They love David Foster Wallace, but yet, I’ve never met anyone who’s actually read Infinite Jest from cover to cover.
Don’t get me wrong. David Foster Wallace is a genius, and I’ll be the first to admit I’m nowhere near his talent, but I gotta be honest. The only people I’ve ever met who’ve read him are white guys in their late twenties to early thirties, who wear thick framed glasses and tight jeans and soccer shoes.
I don’t know what that means, but for some reason it just rubs me the wrong way, you know? Like how all these girls love Twilight, or something.
I mean, I’ve tried to get into David Foster Wallace’s writing a few times, but I’m a such a prisoner to plot and climax that the moment the book gets too complicated, I lose interest. Like Blood Meridian for example. Time magazine called it one of the three best novels ever and I remember reading it waiting for the picture to clear in my head but it never did, and I ended up reading it for reading sake, which I’ve sworn to myself that I will never do again, but whatever, I’ll probably do it again because I’m stubborn.
That all said, while I can’t see myself diving into Infinite Jest, I have found myself fascinated with the man himself. Like I’ll spend an entire night listening to his interviews on YouTube because I like listening to him talk.
So when I saw that David Lipsky had written a non-fiction book about their road trip together, I couldn’t help it and decided to buy the book, and for the first time in a long time, I was geeked out about a book and couldn’t wait to read it.
I’ve read the first few pages and so far so good. Hopefully I read the whole thing.
Bret Easton Ellis called Wallace, “the most tedious, overrated, tortured, pretentious writer of [his] generation.”
Maybe one day, someone will say that about me.