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658215 Posts in 9262 Topics by 3396 Members Latest Member: - vlozan86 Most online today: 55 - most online ever: 494 (Jul 01, 2007, 02:59:53 PM)
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Author Topic: Das Book: the very new reading thread  (Read 71941 times)
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elpollodiablo
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« Reply #350 on: Jan 15, 2008, 08:20:47 AM »

I'm actually reading IJ again for a class this quarter, which is pretty much the best possible scenario. This time through I'm taking painstaking notes, drawing many more connections, and generally just having a fucking blast.
re: the fractals thing, yeah certain set pieces are repeated over and over again in miniature in other set pieces later in the novel, though there's not always a one-to-one correlation. Often a character's decisions will be represented in some oblique way through unrelated materials (cf. Poor Tony's theft of the jarvik external heart by purse snatching, which gets strafed in Steepley's article for Moment, etc). I've also heard the book described as 'crystalline' in reference to its causality, as characters' choices build upon one another to disastrous and stunning effect and at an exponential rate as the novel progresses.
This time through, I'm catching some things that went completely over my head in the first reading. For example, a more 'acute' reader might have realized that Don Gately was initially responsible for unleashing Infinite Jest on the world (sort of). As Avril Incandenza's infidelities extended beyond the marriage bed and into the world of politics, particularly the rather violent and unsavory world of Quebec separatism, we can assume that she at some point passed a copy of the IJ cartridge to the AFR. It's alluded to very early on in the novel, during Gately's robbery and accidental murder of M. DuPlessis, that the cartridge was in DuPlessis' possession just prior to the time of his death. An endnote describing the wall safe's contents lists 'certain unmarked but potentially extremely valuable arty looking unlabeled cartridges' as being among them (that's from memory, so I doubt it's spot on). Gately and his friend make off with IJ unwittingly, the friend (Kite) fences the cartridge, and it begins its long cyclic trip back to the AFR.
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C of heartbreak
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« Reply #351 on: Jan 15, 2008, 09:18:22 AM »

Yeah but pollo, the copy in the Antitois' shop, which isn't a master, is that one that DuPlessis previously owned, which got there via Kite and Sixties Bob. Check out p 721 and 725.

That's fucking awesome that you're reading IJ for class, though I imagine it'd be absolute torture for someone who didn't enjoy it.
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elpollodiablo
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« Reply #352 on: Jan 15, 2008, 09:24:31 AM »

C did you pull that shit out from memory? Cuz if so I am scared of you.

Also I don't see how that quite invalidates anything I said, except perhaps for the fact that maybe Avril didn't pass off a master, but perhaps a copy she made...?

And yeah: reading it for class is fucking awesome. It's junior composition course led by a PhD student with the best of intentions, foolhardy though they may be. I mean, this is technically an English course, but it's one of those English courses they force on everyone, not just majors. Thus, the class is comprised of about 80% students from non-English fields, some from decidedly non-literary ones such as sports medicine, physical education, business, etc. Most of these kids probably haven't read a novel since high school and he's expecting them to read one of the most intimidating and academically divisive novels of the past two decades. Of course, better IJ than say Gravity's Rainbow or Ulysses or something, which would undoubtedly lead, by the second week, to the class being comprised of exactly two people--the instructor and I. I sought this section out because I've wanted an excuse to reread IJ for some time, but also because I'm damn curious to see how he goes about teaching this beast.
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think 'on the road.'
C of heartbreak
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« Reply #353 on: Jan 15, 2008, 09:32:39 AM »

Well my point was that if it's not a master it wasn't too important, because they'd gotten other read-only copies previously. I mean it's definitely an important connection but I don't think it's so important to the overall plot.

I pulled the details out of memory, though I had to flip through the book to find the page numbers. I have a pretty amazing memory, but also keep in mind I just finished the book last week.

It's funny--I kept imagining what it'd be like to read IJ in class. I mean, I didn't have too much trouble with the book--I read 300-page books for classes that gave me a lot more trouble. But it seems there are some people out there who absolutely can't stand it, and I can see them having issues with having to read it for a class. But also I am laughing at all the non-lit-majors in your class, and their faces upon seeing the tome and then reading words like acciaccatura.
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elpollodiablo
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« Reply #354 on: Jan 15, 2008, 09:44:22 AM »

Oh man when he held that thing up on the first day and said "This is the only book we'll be reading this quarter" I could like feel the inaudible groans around the room.
I agree with you, though; assigning say like Moby-Dick or Islands In the Stream would be a lot more brutal IMO, because at least with IJ you get the benefit of colloquial syntax (even if it's laden with those terribly pretentious esoteric polysyllabic ten dollar words), a bunch of incredibly entertaining vignettes, and at least two or three characters/situations that every single young person can relate to.
One of the things that's really striking me on this read-through is just how badly Wallace's imagination vis-a-vis near future technology turned out to be. Perhaps it's intentional, perhaps there's some textual reason for all the laughably low-tech analog devices every is using (cartridges? seriously? and 'teleputers'?). I mean, it doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things, but an author like William Gibson was making predictions about consumer technology nearly thirty years ago that are closer to the mark than Wallace's are today.
Also I forgot that you'd just finished the novel last week; I am less afraid of you now.

And thanks for shitting all over what I felt was my pretty interesting plot connection there MR. HEARTBREAK
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think 'on the road.'
C of heartbreak
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« Reply #355 on: Jan 15, 2008, 09:48:50 AM »

I mean to his credit, computer and entertainment technology are worlds away from where they were in 1996, and also he pretty accurately predicted the TiVo/DVR revolution, in principle if not down to the details. But yeah, I'd say that's probably one of the book's main flaws because it totally dates it.

Also shut up, you know you'd have done the same to me  Cool
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andronicus
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« Reply #356 on: Jan 15, 2008, 09:55:21 AM »

Speaking of which I finished Gibson's new book a couple of days ago.

Honestly after reading Pattern Recognition I was totally fine with this new thing he was doing, because it really wasn't that different from the direction he was heading in with Idoru and All Tomorrow's Parties.  Now I'm not so sure this isn't a literary dead end for him.
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alistarr*
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« Reply #357 on: Jan 15, 2008, 10:26:29 AM »

One of the things that's really striking me on this read-through is just how badly Wallace's imagination vis-a-vis near future technology turned out to be. Perhaps it's intentional, perhaps there's some textual reason for all the laughably low-tech analog devices every is using (cartridges? seriously? and 'teleputers'?). I mean, it doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things, but an author like William Gibson was making predictions about consumer technology nearly thirty years ago that are closer to the mark than Wallace's are today.

i kinda like that stuff, though it did give me pause for thought - i decided that maybe it was a vision of the way that certain companies have tried to push consumer entertainment, from tivo as mentioned above down to things like mail order dvd rental with a monthly subscription and on-demand tv services on one hand, and the endless line of technophobe-friendly internet devices (from things like the one amstrad - i think - tried a few years ago, to the wii, which has a better but still minimal shot at removing entertainment and information acquisition from the clutches of the PC) on the other.

the cartridge thing, however, i was unable to justify in any way other than that it was necessary as part of the "search for a MASTER copy" plot. though, as has been made abundantly clear to me by recent posts, i wasn't anything like as close a reader as i should have been while going through this novel, and should really give it another shot.
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elpollodiablo
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« Reply #358 on: Jan 15, 2008, 11:42:50 AM »

Yeah but it's not like he's restricted by the imagined properties of his own imagined media. He could have easily gone the (what I imagine to be, even in 1994-96, while he was writing the novel, the more logical progression for consumer tech) video disc route, and just dropped a paragraph or two (or ten pages) on how the integrity of these discs is such that truly (a/e)ffective copies that capture the true fidelity (or in IJ's case the lethal quality) of the film must needs be made from master copies, etc.
Like I said, this is pure nitpicking, and if you're going to accept things like giant waste-slinging catapults and O.N.A.N. and subsidized time (by far the least unrealistic of the lot), why the fuck not cartridges and teleputers and INTERLACE?

Also richard I'm sorry to hear that about the new Gibson. God knows when I'll get around to reading it to see if I agree with you, though. I thought PR was pretty weak, all things being equal.
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think 'on the road.'
martin_van_buren
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« Reply #359 on: Jan 15, 2008, 12:36:42 PM »

So recently I read Snow Crash, which was not quite as good as I was hoping, but which was still plenty good enough to make me want to become a cyberpunk, followed by George Alec Effinger's When Gravity Fails, which I thought was better but which made me not want to be a cyberpunk quite so much. That this all ties in somewhat with William Gibson is purely coincedence.
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elpollodiablo
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« Reply #360 on: Jan 15, 2008, 12:37:59 PM »

I will never understand, after having read Snow Crash, how anyone is gonna rep for that novel over Neuromancer or pretty much any other Gibson up until five years ago
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DCDave
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« Reply #361 on: Jan 15, 2008, 12:40:08 PM »

Snow Crash is funner than Neuromancer
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elpollodiablo
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« Reply #362 on: Jan 15, 2008, 12:40:41 PM »

If by funner you mean 'not as substantial' I would agree
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think 'on the road.'
DCDave
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« Reply #363 on: Jan 15, 2008, 12:41:28 PM »

I mean more pew pew laser beams
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elpollodiablo
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« Reply #364 on: Jan 15, 2008, 12:44:17 PM »

pew pew pew ZING
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Aglaya
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« Reply #365 on: Jan 15, 2008, 02:18:51 PM »

I just read Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman.  I really enjoyed it.  A friend who hasn't read American Gods is reading it now, and I'm kind of interested to see how it goes without that story already in your head.  It's a pretty cool follow-up though, I love that idea of the lives of the gods.
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coldforge
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« Reply #366 on: Jan 15, 2008, 03:49:45 PM »

Boy, did I hate that book.
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l'era del terzo mondo.
das kranke Tier
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« Reply #367 on: Jan 15, 2008, 03:58:02 PM »

I'm still working on American Gods, and still really like it, but now that the semester's begun, I don't have quite as much time to devote to reading for fun.  I will finish it, though!

I ended up grabbing Anansi Boys for my ladyfriend because the hardcover was on sale for dirt-cheap when I was picking up American Gods.  I don't think she's started on it yet, though...
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Andrew_TSKS
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« Reply #368 on: Jan 15, 2008, 05:12:17 PM »

I will never understand, after having read Snow Crash, how anyone is gonna rep for that novel over Neuromancer or pretty much any other Gibson up until five years ago

i like them both a whole lot, and generally rep for them in tandem.
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slow west vultures
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« Reply #369 on: Jan 15, 2008, 10:09:39 PM »

so I just finished The Brothers Karmazov, setting a new personal record for longest time to read a book.  5 months I think?  which is no reflection on the book or my enjoyment of it, just how crazy my life has been and how little reading I've been doing.  also, it's a big heavy book so I don't carry it around much.

so, now I thought I'd switch to a little light reading.  so today I bought this:



I've often read excerpts of it, but never the whole thing.  whole thing, here I come.  unfortunately,  the font sux.  I may expire from graphic design shock before I finish...



i've had my eye on that ever since i ran across it in the B&N philosophy section.  i couldn't quite justify using my gift card to buy it though.  i read the intro, but then i saw the rest of it is mostly epigrams, and held off.  i'm kinda jealous of you now though.  give us an update on how it goes. 
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slow west vultures
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« Reply #370 on: Jan 19, 2008, 05:58:15 PM »

oh man, i haven't read the onion in awhile, but the onion . . . the onion get's us

http://www.theonion.com/content/news/area_eccentric_reads_entire_book
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guanajuato
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Posts: 1787


« Reply #371 on: Jan 19, 2008, 07:40:36 PM »

spaceman blues by brian francis slattery and nova swing by m john harrison. spaceman blues is supposedly pretty pynchonish, and i dig harrison more and more each time i read 'im, though he's still a bit too icy and reflective for me.



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Andrew_TSKS
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« Reply #372 on: Jan 19, 2008, 08:06:52 PM »

dude, i've been looking at both of those books at my store for a while. are they recommended?
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guanajuato
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« Reply #373 on: Jan 19, 2008, 08:15:36 PM »

they are! but don't get nova swing unless you've read 'light' by harrison first!
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Andrew_TSKS
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« Reply #374 on: Jan 19, 2008, 08:16:19 PM »

word. i was probably gonna start with that one anyway, since it's available in a cheaper edition than "viriconium" and "nova swing" are.
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