Finally finished Infinite Jest, thousand-page cult novel from David Foster Wallace, published 1997. Loosely themed around the subject of addiction, it has multiple points of view, partly set in a dingy Boston halfway house for addicts, partly set in an elite tennis academy at the top of the hill. There are links between them, but not much overarching plot, and the loose ends remain resolutely untied by the end. Large parts of it are written in a stream of consciousness style: found that a bit tiresome at first, but got more into it after the first three hundred pages.
The weakest element is some vaguely science-fictional satire: in the near future the years are commercially sponsored, so it's mostly set in the Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment and the Year of the Trial-Size Dove Bar. Like most late Nineties satire it's weakened by the fact that in retrospect those jammy bastards didn't have much to whine about. It's hard to sympathize with the whole Adbusters/Commercialization thing these days: "Oh dearie me, did your thriving, peaceful global economy deluge you with too much non-tracking non-spying advertising for all the products you could afford to buy? What a fucking pity."
The stronger elements are the grippingly detailed depictions of character and place: reminded me of John Updike in the depth of knowledge and research.
Overall, fairly rewarding book despite the length. Don't start it unless you have time to spare though.
Went home for the holidays as usual. Girl B is also visiting her mother in Germany, won't be back for a while. My Dad's health problems seem fairly stable at the moment, though the biggest problem is a progressive one which will only get worse in the long term, he seems to be recovering OK from the knee replacement.
Got an embarrassingly large set of presents this year, mostly books and DVDs from my Amazon wishlist. In retrospect, don't think I gave away enough to match. The problem is my wishlist gives me a tactical disadvantage against the people who won't say what kind of thing they want: it's not the money, it's the time and effort trying to think of something.
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