Examples of DFW’s writing talent

He’s funny:

‘I am going to propose that I tell you a joke, Boo, on the condition that afterwards you shush and let me sleep.’

‘Is it a good one?’

‘Mario, what do you get when you cross and insomniac, an unwilling agnostic, and a dyslexic.”

‘I give.’

‘You get somebody who stays up all night torturing himself mentally of the question of whether or not there’s a dog.’

— Infinite Jest (p. 41)

I laughed out loud at that.

And I don’t know where James Wood get that Wallace’s characters don’t feel:

Home with the team, no matter how high the AC or how thin the sheet, Orin wakes with his own impression sweated darkly into the bed beneath him, slowly drying all day to a white salty outline just slightly off from the week’s other faint dried outlines, so his fetal-shaped fossilized image is fanned out across his side of the bed like a deck of cards, just overlapping, like an acid trail or time exposure. (p. 43)

The dude is suffering his body into a fossil.

And some ho his ideas, his images, are just unique, it almost makes me want to cry with envy, but I just love them so much. Like this one:

The yellow tile floor of the bathroom is sometimes a little obstacle course of glasses with huge roaches dying inside, stoically, just sitting there, the glasses gradually steaming up with roach-dioxide. The whole thing makes Orin sick. Now he figures the hotter the shower’s water, the less chance any small armored vehicle is going to feel like coming out of the drain while he’s in there. (p. 45)

Of course, his description are particularly apt, and with good reason obviously:

Even when alone, able to uncurl alone and sit slowly up and wring out the sheet and go to the bathroom, these darkest morning start days that Orin can’t even bring himself for hours to think about how he’ll get through the day. These worst morning with cold floors and hot windows and merciless light — the soul’s certainty that the day will have to be not traversed but sort of climbed, vertically, and then that going to sleep again at the end of it will be like falling, again, off something tall and sheer. (p. 46)


And he’s just interesting, just seems to know about a lot of different stuff, like, say, one-hitter pipes and smoking pot:

Plus one-hitteres are small, which is good, because let’s face it, anything you use to smoke high-resin dope with is going to stink. A bong is big, and its stink is going to be like commensurately big, plus you have the foul bong-water to deal with. Pipes are smaller and at least portable, but they always come with only a multi-hit party bowl that disperses nonutilzed smoke over a wide area. A one-hitter can be wastelessly employed, then allowed to cool, wrapped in two baggies and then further wrapped and sealed in a Ziploc and then enclosed in two sport-socks in a gear bag along with the lighter and eyedrops and mint-pellets and the little film-case of dope itself, and it’s highly portable and odor-free and basically totally covert. (p. 49)

That’s just fun to read. It’s cool information.

And he makes these wonderful statements that have the force of truth without coming off as platitudes or cliches or whatever:

American experience seems to suggest that people are virtually unlimited in their need to give themselves away, on various levels. Some just prefer to do it in secret. (p. 53)

My progress reading Infinite Jest has me on page 55, the chapter entitled: AUTUMN — YEAR OF DAIRY PRODUCTS FROM THE AMERICAN HEARTLAND


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