INFINITE JEST readalong pp. 620-665


Welcome back and apologies for being a little late with the post. I accidentally spilled coffee on my laptop, but she has graciously continued to live, so here we are again.

I don’t know about you, but I’m finding the 40-ish pages a week (plus the killer 6-page tiny-type endnote this week) much more manageable than the 70 page hauls. I hope you’re finding it better, too, and that we can all keep pace together (ahem) for these last several weeks together, during which we’ll read the last two of the 28 sections of the book.

So after last week’s rip-roaring segment o’action, we are back to lots of inaction, as well as some sneaky back and forthing in time. It’s easy to lose track of time in IJ, and one of the features of the guide I’m reading, Elegant Complexity, is a set of chronologies of the subchapters of IJ. I often have to remind myself that Marathe and Steeply are meeting in May of YDAU, while most of the action at ETA and Ennet House is taking place later that year in November, all of which takes place before the very first chapter, which featured Hal at his interview.

pp 620-626 12 November YDAU There’s a repeat of some of the stats on the Interlace teleputer, then the draining of the duck pond, then the WHYY engineer gets kidnapped by the wheelchair assassins.

pp 627-638 11 November YDAU Suppertime, Stice has earlier almost defeated Hal but not, arguments about powdered milk, we are reminded again that Hal keeps secrets. He knows about the milk. Hal sees Clenette going down the hill to Ennet House with a full backpack (of what?) where she will later take place in stomping the Canadians, because this section happens a few hours before what we read last week. Stuff is moving around at ETA. Hal is sober and not happy about it.

pp 628-648 1 May YDAU Back to Marathe and Steeply on the ledge. Steeply tells a long story about his father and his unhealthy attachment to the TV show M*A*S*H.

Nerdish aside: didn’t M*A*S*H run on Monday nights, originally? I remember Monday night was TV night in our house when I was a girl. We’d start with the Muppet Show at 7:30pm EST, then Little House on the Prairie from 8-9, and M*A*S*H till 9:30, which was bedtime. I could look up and confirm, but it’s a very strong memory.

Isn’t Steeply’s tale a little too on the nose about his dad and how it reflects the entertainment? Is he lying?

Coincidence that the theme song to the show is “Suicide is Painless”?

pp 648-651 13 November YDAU 0245h. This is almost exactly 24 hours after shit went down in front of Ennet House. Kate and Geoffrey Day have a weird interaction that is actually like lines not meeting yet they still kind of do, talk about depression.

pp 651-662 We rewind a bit on 11 November YDAU to the match between Stice and Hal, commanded by Schtitt, and watched by “Helen” Steeply. Discussion about how ETA tries to prepare kids for the Show without getting chewed up by it. There is a segment in here that shows Don snoring and wearing a sleeping mask, but this is BEFORE the shit went down so we still have no idea what happened to Don the night before.

pp 663-665 Letters between Marlon Bain and “Helen” Steeply with a killer 6-page endnote. We learn Orin is a terrible liar, and the Moms is perhaps not as giving as she would like to be perceived as.

Given that David and his mother Sally were estranged after the publication of IJ, I suspect there’s more than a little of Sally in the character of Avril, and not just the grammarian.

Saprogenic, which I always thought meant ’soapy’ actually means growing out of decay, which is rather an odd choice for a greeting card company. Then again, Bain is obviously an odd duck. He was the one who was the constant sweater while he was at ETA, similar to DFW in real life.

I’m writing from Barnes & Noble, so don’t have my copy of IJ. I’d assumed they’d have one here I could reference–they don’t. Why? But I can’t list any of my favorite sentences, but one belonged to Marathe, something like, “The cuteness, it had fled.”

What did everyone else think? Did anyone else have to restrain themselves from racing ahead, trying to figure out what happened to Don? I think I’m getting to a point at which I’ll just need to flat out finish this cusser.

Let’s meet here in a week on 9/29 to discuss the next part of section 27. Reminder of the rest of the schedule:

9/29 pp 665-711
10/6 pp 711-755
10/13 pp 755-808
10/20 pp 809-854
10/27 pp 854-902
11/3 pp 902-941
11/10 941-981 THE END

6 Responses to “INFINITE JEST readalong pp. 620-665”

  1. V Says:

    Yes, for most of its run, “MASH” was a Monday night show, especially the finale. Also, Maj. Frank (Ferret Face) Burns was played by Larry Linville, not Maury. As I tweeted, it’s a great example of DFW’s tweaking of the fact in this fiction.

  2. David Says:

    Ooh, I didn’t realize the part with Don was before fight. Shoot I thought he was ok.
    It was an interesting section of waiting for things to happen and DFW was certainly holding back some answers. What about Don? What happened with the urine screenings? Did Hal and The Darkness face off just to show Steeply a match?

  3. V Says:

    Also agree on the praise for the shorter reading schedule. While I was trying to do 10 pages (plus footnotes) a day, that required a strict adherence to stay on schedule. Especially appreciated with double reading assignments.

  4. Beth Says:

    This week’s reading was a bit of a drudge for me after finishing the action-packed Don Gately drama.

    As I read Hal’s sections, I keep thinking, can we go back to Ennet House yet? To Don and Joelle and the interesting people. :P

    Though I was much entertained by Steeply’s father’s M*A*S*H obsession! So maybe my favorite characters go: Don, Joelle, Steeply…

  5. Heidi Says:

    You know, the description of the homeless on pp. 623-624 is some pretty moving, and empathetic writing. So there’s definitely that to say for this section.

  6. girldetective Says:

    DFW can be pretty merciless on large females, gay and trans folks, so thanks for pointing the empathy out.