What Katy Did

roylichtenstein02I read an article on Electric Literature by Deirdre Coyle, a young self-described Goth woman whose handle on Twitter is @DeirdreKoala

It was about David Foster Wallace, mainly known for writing the shelf-bender known to the semi-literate world as Infinite Jest. The tweet that links to this article is still pinned to the top of her Twitter Profile, though she wrote it in April, the cruelest month according to T.S. Eliot, for “breeding lilacs out of the dead land, mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain.” This is from Eliot’s poem, The Waste Land. On a side note, the other day another T.S. quote came up: “This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang but a whimper.” I was thinking it was also from The Waste Land, but then thought it was from The Hollow Men instead. And so it was. But that reminds me of Paul Desmond, saxophonist for the Dave Brubeck group, whose alto saxophone tone was likened to a dry martini, and whose wit was just as dry. He once said, when he espied a young woman he was acquainted with in the company of a banker, “So this is how the world ends. Not with a whim, but a banker?”

Getting back to Deirdre Coyle, and her article on David Foster Wallace, I read it but was nonplussed to discover that she hadn’t actually read the book, but it had been recommended to her by plenty of dudes, but even though she hadn’t read it, she could somehow sense that it was not very good. She had read a collection of David Foster Wallace’s essays, and this is what she based her assessment on. I tried to reply to her but I didn’t get any response. What I was trying to tell her was that Infinite Jest was a really good book, and she was really missing out by not reading it. Also, her opinion of David Foster Wallace was worthless since she hadn’t taken the time to read Infinite Jest. Can’t imagine why she never responded — why she didn’t engage me in dialogue.

I read another article with a list of books and first item on the list was David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest as a book that “dudes” and “bros” like to have on their bookshelves to show off, but that they haven’t actually read. The article was by Nicole Cliffe, an editor of a website called Toast:

Books That Literally All White Men Own

Her handle on Twitter is @Nicole_Cliffe

I have read Infinite Jest, but am not trying to show off — I’m just saying that I enjoyed it and thought all who aspire to write could benefit from it.

Actually, I think her article was probably interesting as far as it went: about how guys can be real jerks. Even when recommending Literature, doing it in a way that makes you suspect that you wouldn’t like it because if they liked it then it was somehow tainted by misogyny, or words to that effect. But really, Infinite Jest is a really good book. A great book. It has some faults, I guess you could say, but it is really such a tour de force of language that you can’t help but admire it. I can also see why, since it is so long, and kind of difficult to follow, you might want to skip it altogether. Like, what is up with all the footnotes? Did Nowhere Man write them with his feet? (Yellow Submarine, an animated film about The Beatles, had this joke in it). But just use two bookmarks, so you can easily navigate back and forth — and don’t skip the footnotes because in some cases the story shifts to the footnotes. And vice versa.

It also seems to be a paradigm for the way David Foster Wallace’s mind works: Going off on tangents, but still keeping track of the other narrative threads, and returning just in the nick of time before the story gets hopelessly unraveled, and he picks up all the loose threads and threads all the needles with them. Even the needles hidden in the proverbial haystack.

Well, anywho, I think that Deirdre should write about books that she has read, and while we’re on the subject, why doesn’t she write about the books she really loves, really feels passionate about? Sure it’s fun to be snarky, and you can even get a modicum of attention for a take down of some Icon of Literature like David Foster Wallace, but who really wants to spend your time on stuff you don’t like? Especially when if you had bothered to read it, you would discover, much to your chagrin, that you liked it. A lot. So, I suppose it’s time to “shuffle off this mortal Coyle . . . . ”

OK, anyway, what I really wanted to say was that I just saw another article by Katy Koop, also on Electric Literature, and she wrote about Infinite Jest and Bojack Horseman, saying they are essentially the same story. I haven’t read the article yet, nor have I watched more than a smidgen of Bojack Hoseman, (though I did read Infinite Jest, as I never tire of announcing to the world) but even though she says that there is a lot of sadness in both, and she spent her free time wallowing in the infinite sadness, much as I did listening to The Smiths in bygone eras, I would probably find her article a lot more interesting because at least she has read the book it’s about!

Bojack Horseman & Infinite Jest

Katy’s handle on Twitter is @KatyKooped

Do what Katy did, not what Deirdre didn’t.

Christopher R. Craddock (c) 2017


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