There’s a troll inhabiting r/books on reddit with a singular DFW agenda. Well, the article makes it seem like it’s a troll, and it’s not until we get to the comments on European prehistory and physics book recommendations that we can safely say, “Yes, this is a troll.”
Why does reading about this reddit troll make me sweat hard about my own reactions to DFW? I’m a huge, huge fan of DFW’s nonfiction, and I’m always pushing this stuff off onto others–that is very much true. But I’m always deeply offended when Amanda accuses me of being a DFW fanboy (which she does often) since I really don’t like his fiction all that much. Yes, I read Infinite Jest, and I’m going to do it again starting next week. But when I originally finished it a few years ago, I was deeply confused and ambivalent about it. Had I just read the most life-changing book (as advertised) I’ll ever read? Or had I just wasted 5 months reading a bunch of bullshit? Then I read Broom of the System and absolutely hated it. Jesus Christ, I hate that book. I swore off reading any more of his fiction (even when one short story was assigned for reading this semester). And I can’t even–I CAN’T EVEN–deal with this Decembrists video.
I pick up my copy of IJ this weekend to begin the Big Read. (I think Canelli has already picked up his.) Whatever happens now, whatever we write, this troll will be in the back of my mind, making it easier for me–in a weird sort of way–to be critical of what we’re reading.