Gearing up for “the big (re)read”

Now that we’re done with The Brothers Karamazov and back on a recording schedule for the podcast, Canelli and I plan to tackle Infinite Jest as our next big read.  Since finishing BK (back on Aug 12 despite what the blog posts may lead you to believe), I’ve read Purple Hibiscus by JHU writing program graduate Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois.  The former was a suggestion from Amanda, and the latter is a book I’ve had for a long time but only got around to reading once Canelli covered it while on the Indian subcontinent.

Anyway, between The Brothers Karamazov, seeing End of the Tour, and Amanda ripping through D.T. Max’s Every Love Story is a Ghost Story, I’m really, really excited for our next big read: a rereading of Infinite Jest.  Yes, rereading.

I started reading IJ sometime in late 2012/early 2013 and finished it…I don’t quite remember when.  It was spring 2013 or summer 2013.  I remember it took me 5 months of intense reading sessions mixed with general apathy about and avoidance of the book.  I remember being vastly confused about the ending (beginning?).  And vastly confused about how I felt about the book.  It was incredible in some spots, baffling in others, and just the worst in yet more spots.  I came out of my reading IJ incredibly ambivalent about it.  And I felt guilty for foisting it on Amanda, making her read it, too.  It took her a year (same reading pattern as my own), and when she finished, I found it hard convincing myself to convince her that she’d just read something important or even good.

So what’s changed since then?  Why should I suddenly become so excited to reread a book I wasn’t sure I liked to begin with?  I’ve been professing a DFW exhaustion for the past two years.  I told one of my writing professors that I felt like DFW was someone one read while “in a phase” and that it and Gravity’s Rainbow (after my first attempt to read it in 2013) had turned me off to post-modern writing.  I shuddered (with disappointed exhaustion) every time Canelli mentioned DFW to me.  What changed?

Well, shit, man, I’m not sure.  Canelli kept the idea of a reread alive for so long.  And then there was my discovering Aaron Schwartz’s IJ plot buster.  And then there were things like this and this talking about the original manuscript.  I got into the writing program at JHU and started fantasizing about all the money I’m going to make when I sell out.  I finally got through Gravity’s Rainbow and discovered I like it a lot.  Then there was The Brothers Karamazov and End of the Tour.  In short, two years of life and reflection and (maybe) maturation happened.

Christ, when I first started writing this post, I meant for it to just be an announcement that Canelli and I were going to start slapping our squishy brain matters together in prep for IJ.  I totally did not mean for it to turn sappy like that.  Okay, forget all that stuff.  Just forget it all.

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