Recently, in a fit of madness, I agreed to join an Infinite Jest readalong organised by my new friend and colleague Rose. You may recall that I first tried (and failed) to read IJ as part of Infinite Summer six years ago. (Six?!) I was actually so annoyed by the book at that point that I ended up giving my printed copy to the local Op Shop. So for this readalong, I’m going with the Kindle version. Our first goal is 75 pages, which is apparently around 7.5% of the way through. Right now I’m at 6%, and I believe this is about the point where I stopped last time. Hm.

I was talking about the book with Rose a few weeks ago and mentioned that my problem is I’ve turned into a terrible skimmer. I love plot and I’m impatient, so I have a tendency to just skip right over paragraphs that look boring or have too much description in them. (Lord of the Rings, I’m looking at you.) She said that one of the things she likes about IJ is that it’s literally like a workout for your brain. The way it’s written, you have to pay attention. And that gave me an idea – why not take notes as I go? So I got out a notebook and started jotting things down. It’s actually been really helpful. It forces me to slow down and pay attention. So then I thought I might as well blog them for some added accountability. (Of course, I have since discovered that lots of people do this.)

Here are my notes so far:

Year of Glad

  • University of Arizona
  • Hal Incandenza – 18yo
  • Uncle Charles – CT? Headmaster at ETA
  • Mr. deLint – Academy prorector


  • Orin – eldest brother
  • eating the mold

One year prior – reference to emergency room and being on a psychiatric stretcher

Things highlighted on Kindle:

  • “My chest bumps like a dryer with shoes in it.”
  • “…the defactory posture of all athletes at rest,”

Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment

  • Erdedy – waiting for pot delivery
  • watching insect on girder
  • at the end, the phone and buzzer ring at the same time

Things highlighted on Kindle:

  • “Also he considered himself creepy when it came to dope, and he was afraid that others would see he was creepy about it as well.”
  • “The clicks of his portable clock were really composed of three smaller clicks, signifying he supposed preparation, movement, and readjustment.”

The first paragraph runs 19 pages on my Kindle!

1 April – Year of Tucks Medicated Pad

  • Hal at 10 – “here to converse”
  • “low salivary output” – sounds?
  • Hal has photographic memory
  • The Moms – Avril – prescriptive grammar academic
  • Himself – avant garde film and tennis

May 9 – YDAU

  • Hal is at school – Enfield Tennis Academy
  • Brother Mario – older, middle brother
  • Orin calls – “O”

April 1 – YDAU

  • Medical attaché – ENT consultant to Prince Q___ – Saudi Minister of Home Entertainment
  • Turns 37 tomorrow
  • Interlace Hubs – Phoenix and Boston
  • Mailer from Phoenix – Happy anniversary! 🙂
  • Display: 1927h

Year of the Trial Size Dove Bar

  • Wardine – beaten with hanger, < 16yo
  • Reginald – loves Wardine
  • Clenette – speaker
  • Roy Tony – on parole, Wardine’s uncle
  • “And I am gone have a child.” ??

  • 8th grade – Bruce Green loved Mildred Bonk
  • 10th grade – Mildred becomes bad girl
  • 12th grade – live with baby Harriet and Tommy Doocey, pot dealer


  • Mario talking at midnight to Hal
  • Himself is dead
  • The Moms got happier
  • Flag pole metaphor…
  • 2010hr – attaché still watching video

Things highlighted on Kindle:

  • “So listen – one way to lower the flag to half-mast is just to lower the flag. There’s another way though. You can also just raise the pole. You can raise the pole to like twice it’s original height.”

October – YDAU

  • Orin Incandenza – #71 punter for Arizona Cardinals
  • Used to play for New Orleans
  • Afraid of roaches
  • Has really bad dreams
  • “Hallie” – Hal?
  • “Pandora’s box of worms”

Things highlighted on Kindle:

  • “howling fantods”
  • “abruptly dissolves to the blank dark rose color of eyes closed against bright light” – similar to Hal in first chapter


  • Hal at age 17 – getting high in the Pump Room
  • description of drug use at ETA

  • medical attaché’s wife coming home @ 0015hr
  • He’s still watching over and over – wet his pants

  • Mario is 18 – he films practice

Things highlighted on Kindle:

  • “…a howling case of the maternal fantods.”
  • “American experience seems to suggest that people are virtually unlimited in their need to give themselves away, on various levels.”

Autumn – Year of Dairy Products from the American Heartland

  • Don Gately – 27 – addict and burglar
  • toothbrush revenge stunt
  • What does O.N.A.N. stand for??
  • Guillame DuPlessis – DIED – Canadian terrorism coordinator

3 November – YDAU

  • Jim Troeltsch – 17 – sick
  • steals drugs from Pemulis
  • Footnote 21 – “under Pemulis’s poster of the paranoid king” – “Q.V. Note 211 sub. – what does this mean?

  • FACE IN THE FLOOR nightmare
  • “I am… – who is speaking? Troeltsch?
  • “Your first…” – who?
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