People have done this before me. In fact, I live with a DFW head, the kind of person who would understand the significance of a Enfield Tennis Academy T-shirt with the name Incandenza ironed in block print, sandwiched by shoulder blades. Among those who have taken the roughly three-month time out from life to read this epic Gen X trophy, there is a sort of survivor mentality. No one seems to regret reading it, and everyone seems to have advice for how to tackle something that resembles in girth the hip younger sister of the Norton Anthology of British Literature. They changed, the grew. They are, admittedly, a bit insufferable. They say:
Use two bookmarks, one for the story, one for the end notes.
Trust David Foster Wallace. This is all worth it. And he was a genius. You'll love it. LOVE IT!
Use the available online references, including chronology aids, character bios and section summaries.
Set page goals: Something like 30 pages a day to finish at pace more like training for a marathon than the suggested gestation period for building a human being.
My attention span for books weighs in at about 250 pages. There are exceptions -- especially if the font is gigantic. But the font in "Infinite Jest" is mostly standard, with pages and pages of end notes, which are decidedly below regulation. It takes me approximately 8 hours to read a contemporary novel. I average two-ish books a week. This means, best case scenario, I could finish "Infinite Jest" in just less than 3 weeks if I devote all of my optic powers on this one book and hide the TV in the garage. Unfortunately, I've never heard of anyone finishing this book in less than two months, so I'm probably deceiving myself.
I've considered a few game plans:
1. Read "Infinite Jest," and supplement it with just graphic novels for when I need a boost of something different.
2. Read a set number of pages a week, and once I hit that goal read something else.
3. Read it only on weekends, when I really have time to plant my happy ass deep into the upholstery and get really weird with myself.
4. Maybe think about not reading it at all, and just going about my life secure in that decision.
But really, the only option for me is to bust through the fucker. I've got to read it and read it hard. Totally commit myself to this one book. Coax my body into cooking up something akin to Adderall. It's my only chance for success.
So far, so good, though. I carried it with me to get my oil change, but the oil changers were so speedy that I barely made a dent in a section that I was enjoying. I had an errand at the mall afterward, and instead of shopping, I first spent 15 minutes on a bench near Santa's lap reading about Orin Incandenza, an NFL punter with a cockroach phobia.
I am, as of 1:43 a.m. Saturday morning, nearly 1/10th of the way through the book. See you this spring.