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The Sunday Salon: Infinite Jest is DONE!

The Sunday Salon.comI finished Infinite Jest this morning, all 981 pages plus all 98 pages of footnotes.

I’m not sure how I feel. Excited. Tired. Accomplished. Confused.

As soon as I got to the last page, I turned to the beginning and read the entire first section (17 pages) over again because those scenes are actually set after the end of the book. I’m still not sure how the plot gets from the end of the book (page 981) to the end of the story (the first 17 pages), but I’ll figure it out.

But I’m not going to figure it out today. I’ll save reading forums and essays and critical analysis of Infinite Jest for another today. For now, I’m taking a break from giant, hard-to-read books and settling into something a little less draining. Her Fearful Symmetry or The Geography of Bliss or In Defense of Food, perhaps.

Oh yeah, and I’m going to order my victory t-shirt. Yay!

How do you feel after you finish an especially challenging book? What sort of book do you go for next, or do you take a break from reading altogether?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • charley August 30, 2009, 7:16 pm

    981 pages?? Plus footnotes?? Bravo! I would have given up long ago. Then you RE-READ the first 17 pages? Yikes.

    I feel good when I’ve finished a challenging book. I usually think it will make me want to read something lighter, but often times it makes me feel like I can conquer the world, and I go for yet another challenge.

  • Frances August 30, 2009, 8:29 pm

    Yay for you! I am floundering through at about the halfway mark, and wondering if I have the rest in me right now. Love many aspects of it but can’t help feeling certain sections are, well, bloated. And an infinite summer was perhaps no the best choice for me as all I desired in hot weather is easy escapism. Happy reading!

  • Teresa August 30, 2009, 8:49 pm

    Congrats for finishing! I’m close to page 700, a little behind schedule. Unlike a lot of people, I loved the beginning and the process of discovering DFW’s world, but my interest faded at around the halfway point, when the plot threads started to really come together. Like Frances, I’m finding it rather bloated at times. But then some parts are wonderful. I’m far enough along that I might as well finish, but I’ve lost some of the initial enthusiasm.

  • Suey August 30, 2009, 11:05 pm

    Way to go! Congrats!

    Now if I could just finish War and Peace, I’d know how to answer your question. It would help if I’d just pick it up and actually read it!

  • Eva August 31, 2009, 12:09 am


    I felt numb once I finished War and Peace. And that anything else I read would be anti-climactic. But reading an Ishiguro (one of my fave authors) did the trick.

  • bermudaonion August 31, 2009, 7:29 am

    I think you should feel accomplished!

  • Steph August 31, 2009, 8:08 am

    I committed myself to reading another hulking behemoth this summer (Roberto Bolaño’s 2666), so I didn’t participate in this read-along, but congrats on making it through! I’m not sure this is a book that I will ever be able to read (I always seem to stall on long books), so I’m duly impressed with anyone who has!

  • rebeccareid August 31, 2009, 9:06 am

    I was going to say go read something fluffly, but like Eva says in her comment, maybe that would be a bit anti-climactic and thus disappointing.

  • bibliomom August 31, 2009, 12:07 pm

    WOW! I’m so impressed. I’ve been following the progression of you reading this all summer and I’m so inspired.

  • Jeanne August 31, 2009, 12:39 pm

    I don’t know what’s wrong with reading something “fluffy” after reading something that gives your brain a lot to work on. That’s what I do. A tidy little mystery where everything gets wrapped up can be particularly satisfying.

  • Kim L August 31, 2009, 9:04 pm

    When I finally finished “The Lucifer Effect” (a good read, just REALLY REALLY REALLY LONG), I read nothing but graphic novels for a long time. I like the idea of a victory tshirt! Nice idea.

  • justicejenniferreads September 1, 2009, 6:30 pm

    I usually don’t read anything too challenging unless it’s for school. When I finish something challenging for school I take a break from reading and turn to some feel good tv (usually). When I’m ready for reading again, I turn to something fun and easy.

    Congrats on finishing your 981 page book – that’s quite an accomplishment and good luck figuring out what you just read.

  • Kim August 31, 2009, 2:07 pm

    Yeah, I know the feeling. You get something major done and then you want to jump right back into another book that’s going to be difficult. I wouldn’t mind another challenging book, but I want it to be challenging in a different way… some nonfiction, maybe.

  • Kim August 31, 2009, 2:08 pm

    Agreed. I think some parts of the book were too long and could have be trimmed without losing much. That frustrated me as I read. The length is going to turn off people that otherwise might really get into the book.

    Summer worked ok for me — I needed something to keep my brain busy, a task that I could keep in the back of my head, so IJ was good for that. During school I have so many other things to read, this wouldn’t have worked well.

  • Kim August 31, 2009, 2:09 pm

    I was the opposite of you — the beginning frustrated me, the middle got better, and I sort of flew through the end. I think you’re far enough in that you almost have to finish it — it would be a shame to give up now!

  • Kim August 31, 2009, 2:10 pm

    Yeah, the picking it up and reading it was always the hard part. I’d have to set aside big chunks of time to read so I felt like I was making progress.

  • Kim August 31, 2009, 2:10 pm

    That’s sort of how I felt — how do you follow this book up? Her Fearful Symmetry was a nice change, but now I’m not sure what to get into.

  • Kim August 31, 2009, 2:10 pm

    Thanks, I definitely do!

  • Kim August 31, 2009, 2:11 pm

    I’m not a big long book person myself; I used to love them, but lately I haven’t been trying any except for this one. It was a nice change though, to take on something massive like that. I’m not sure of 2666 is a book I’d be able to read, so I’m also impressed :)

  • Kim August 31, 2009, 2:12 pm

    I think something really fluffy would be disappointing. Even if it was good, I wouldn’t appreciate what was good about it. I’m leaning towards nonfiction at the moment, something completely different.

  • Kim August 31, 2009, 2:12 pm

    Thank you! I’m pretty proud of myself, actually. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to do it or not :)

  • Kim August 31, 2009, 2:14 pm

    Hmmm… you make a good point. Something that’s tidy would be nice. IJ had a TON Of loose ends and unanswered questions. I’d like to read something that sort of wraps itself up or at least tries to close the story.

    I actually started Random Family by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc this morning, so we’ll see how that goes.

  • Teresa August 31, 2009, 8:06 pm

    I think my experience has been the opposite of most readers’. We’ve been discussing difficult books over at my blog, and that just goes to show that difficulty is highly subjective. I will almost certainly finish–I’m so close to the end. I may make a big push over Labor Day weekend, because classes are starting and I’ll have less mental energy once they really get underway.