The challenge: Join endurance bibliophiles from around the world in reading “Infinite Jest” by David Foster Wallace over the summer of 2009, June 21st to September 22nd. A thousand pages1 ÷ 92 days = 75 pages a week. No sweat.
I was standing in line at the Dave Eggers signing of “Zeitoun” when I noticed a woman carrying a copy of “Infinite Jest.” I admired her not only because I knew how heavy the tome was (I had vowed early on only to read it at home, in bed, where I’d have the least amount of weight lifting to do), but also because her bookmark seemed further than mine. The book was also in much better shape than my second hand copy that had broken apart after 300 pages.
I asked her if she was partaking in Infinite Summer, and indeed she was. We started talking, and the two boys behind us joined in. They had read the book twice already but thought the book club sounded fun. Before we knew it, we were comparing notes on all the books over 800 pages we had read, not in a boasting way, but the kind of conversation that just naturally flows on a higher intellectual level.
We went from complete strangers at a book signing to friends on Facebook, all because of some epic novel. While still on my Eggers’ high I thought about how there must be more of us out there. In my typical fashion I thought what better way to meet these people than to put them in a room with some free alcohol and lots of books?
I contacted the good folks at Booksmith, who immediately jumped on board, validating my idea while bringing it to a whole new level. Now it wasn’t just an idea, but an actual event I needed to plan and deliver. And I was falling behind on my reading.
But since my social life must commence again, I’m multi-tasking like a pro. While wine sponsors and special guests of sorts have fallen through (though Stephen Elliott agreed to attend, and I’m still holding out for Eggers!), I believe the basic idea – collecting folks in a room around a shared interest in a novel – will hold up. Especially when friends in New York call me to ask about this party they heard about, and they didn’t hear it from me!
Join other IJ readers – face-to-face, this time — to discuss the intricate complexities of a novel that has changed your perception of light reading.
Monday, September 28 at 7:30 p.m.
1644 Haight Street
Bring your beaten and battered copy of “Infinite Jest” to enter a contest to see whose copy has been most abused.
Suggested $5 donation covers wine and food.