Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Infinite reluctance

I am grading my students' papers on whether or not The Great Gatsby should be considered a great American novel.

In the course of copying and pasting long sections of every website that mentions Gatsby, several of my more derelict students have turned me on to some interesting (though completely irrelevant to the paper assignment) essays, including this endorsement of Infinite Jest. The last time I was in Georgia, a friend was reading it, and halfway through he could not decide if he regretted ever beginning it.

1079 pages is a deterrent, but my girlfriend Kate just finished Vikram Seth's 1349-page A Suitable Boy (statistically improbable phrases: lipstick girl, bathing day, great pipal tree, brainfever bird), the longest novel written in English since Samuel Richardson's 1748 million-word book Clarissa.

What's this all mean? It's a chance to play my favorite game: try to find books Alice hasn't read!

Alice, have you read Infinite Jest? Should I read it? And have you read Clarissa? Are you still stopped at 2/3 of the way through Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle?


Blogger Jeff'y on Wed Dec 28, 06:10:00 PM:
See my comment in Alice's response.