I am attempting to read David Foster Wallace’s very large novel and write about the experience as I go. That is all.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Seven: Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment (B)

First – and this will be old news to those among you who read my other blog – I’ve run a few samples from this blog through the rather nifty I Write Like only to discover that I Write Like David Foster Wallace. But mostly when I’m writing about David Foster Wallace; otherwise I write like HP Lovecraft, or occasionally William Gibson. Except when I’m writing about Haruki Murakami, in which instance I write like Cory Doctorow, or occasionally David Foster Wallace. David Foster Wallace, you’ll be pleased to hear, writes like David Foster Wallace; although Bret Easton Ellis writes like HP Lovecraft.

Glad that’s all sorted. OK, a new year – Dairy Products from the American Heartland – and a new person, one Don Gately. But not a new chapter as such. I do wonder whether the difficulty that people have with Infinite Jest is not so much a matter of its length as of basic planning and presentation. Even the greatest writers need a decent editor; DFW, it seems, wanted a secretary.

Anyway, Don Gately. He seems like a bit of a rotter, all things considered. He takes a lot of drugs but then so do several of the characters we’ve encountered so far. Don’s a gifted burglar and, like Mario Incandenza, he has an enormous head, which one might have thought to be something of a professional drawback, especially when attempting to negotiate narrow entrances and/or exits, but apparently not.

The story about the rectally-inserted toothbrushes sounds too much like one of those tiresome urban myths that that was prevalent around the time that e-mail became a standard accoutrement of your average office slave’s working life; around the time that Infinite Jest was published, in fact. You can see it coming, even if the ADA doesn’t. Interesting, though, that the ADA (Assistant District Attorney) receives a brochure created by the ADA (American Dental Association). Deliberate? Meaningful? Not sure.

Gately’s next escapade, though, makes the brushes-up-arses thing look like positively benign. The house he breaks into isn’t empty as he imagines; the owner is in bed with a stinking cold. (Maybe all those dairy products from the heartland have brought him a nasty case of catarrh.) And once again, we have a failure to communicate; first, Guillaume DuPlessis speaks Québec French, then Gately does his best Hollywood gangster voice, until finally
...the honking adenoidal inflection the guy’s grippe gives his speech doesn’t even sound like human speech to Gately... 
which sounds remarkably similar to the deans’ reaction to Hal’s “animal” speech in the first chapter. And pretty soon, DuPlessis chokes on his own snot and the dentally violated A(ssistant) D(istrict) A(ttorney) waits to take his revenge on Gately. Although whether any of this has any bearing on the rest of the plot, we do not know. And yet again, the whole thing may simply be another narrative played out...

...the InterLace Telentertainment thingybob. (So you then man what’s your story?) Hmm, DFW’s geeky enumeration of all the gadget’s features rather remind me of Bret Easton Ellis (him again!) fetishising Bateman’s home entertainment hardwear in American Psycho. Starting to see where the bad blood came from.

But no, keep up, ladies and gentlemen, do try to keep up. We’re back (forwards, maybe?) in Depend Year and we’re back in Enfield Tennis Academy. But this time we’re in the company of Hal’s classmate Jim Troeltsch, who is watching a cartridge – possibly on the machine just described. Now Jim’s not a well boy, and his ailments sounds pretty similar to those suffered by poor old Guillaume DuPlessis; “and the stuff he sneezed out was thick and doughy”. Nice. Where he does touch base with Hal is in the fact that takes lots of drugs, which may be intended to quell his feverish snotting, but don’t appear to do much good in that respect. I get what DFW means by “literally ‘daydreaming’ sick” but does that equate to the next, untitled section, which flips into second-person narrative (which I was pretty much expecting to happen at some point) and it’s all some nameless, unmentionable dread, which is probably like something out of HP Lovecraft, even though – as I think I mentioned – I’ve never read any Lovecraft.

So who is it who’s left lying there, “all ribs and elbows and dilated eyes”? I’m guessing it’s Jim himself. But until someone confirms otherwise, it’s you, just you, only you.

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