Pages

Friday, November 12, 2010

Toes

I was going to write a piece about Thai bar girls' ugly knees (a Bruce story) and the strange looking toes I noticed on one of my colleagues (on her feet to be exact) - they were long and thin and splay-toed, with buttons of yellow callus on the little toes, gecko-like, Gollum-like, and they really freaked me out - until* I read the opening lines of David Foster Wallace's Broom Of The System...

Most pretty girls have pretty ugly feet, and so does Mindy Metelman, Lenore notices, all of a sudden. They're long and thin and splay-toed, with buttons of yellow callus on the little toes... etc...(No mention of Gollum)


Sigh.

More about The Broom of the System

(Wrong picture - I have the new Penguin Ink edition, cover art by tattooist Duke Reilly)

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Finally, yes, I've started to dispel the fog of guilt in which I have been literarily (new word?) lost, never having read Infinite Jest. [And now I've purchased BotS! What an fracken idiot!]

When Wallace ended the universe of himself - rope, neck, kitchen ceiling (I believe) [I wonder if he wore shoes when he went, or were his toes exposed? Were they pretty toes or ugly ones?]- a few years back, I thought, heck I'd better read it, in memoriam you know? But immediately he went, all his books evaporated into the libraries of similarly motivated but more prompt aesthetes, and I failed in my epicish (new word?) endeavour to obtain an edition of IJ, indeed any of DFW's books, in Singapore. Consider the Lobster I eventually found in Bangkok, but still it sits unread on my unread-over-weighted shelves. Then, slippery cerebral circuitry, Infinite Jest escaped from my mind for a while.

I was reading about infinity a while back and trying (failing) to come to terms with the Aleph of infinities proposed by George Cantor in the late 19th century, when I saw in the science/mathematics section Wallace's book on infinity - Everything And More - grabbed it, read it, but it didn't really help, only frustrated me more. My fault of course - glazed eyes? you have no idea.

Izzy's friend Tom (hey dude) is a maths prodigy (compared to me, compared to anyone), and he helped; but he was amazed that I hadn't read Infinite Jest. So, by now it was far enough away from his funeral for the new editions to have returned to the Kinokuniya shelves, at his insistence I took one home. Unread. Guilt. Fog. Book become invisible.

Then on Tuesday (this Tuesday, last Tuesday I mean, a few days ago, remember?) at a pub quiz - beers, pizza, imminent victory, jaws, defeat - the conversation inexplicably turned to DFW. Did I start it**? Maybe I did. Two of the guys, one Welsh (another mathemetician) the other American, went quasi-orgasmic over Infinite Jest. They seemed to have read everything of his, but they didn't know which week Thanksgiving falls in! So again me, with guilt/inadequacy. Fog. Shuts up. (But I read today - I should be working, not blogging or reading interviews, I know - in an interview with Arundhati Roy that she hadn't read any William Faulkener, so hey... [oops, neither have I])

So now, two days later E@L is about fifteen pages into IJ; autistic/savant tennis players, dope fiends... and skipping around about too, to sample what's ahead.

EVERY SENTENCE IS AMAZING and requires you to think and puzzle, find the joke and the wit and the genius, but somehow it is enjoyably readable (once you let it flow, as you have to do with Proust). At one point while browsing ahead, I hiccuped into spontaneous laughter - fat woman's buttocks inextricably wedged out the window of a bus toilet! One minute hyper-intense, 60 seconds later slapstick.

And I only have 1000 pages of this stuff to go!

More about Infinite Jest

It took the below footnoted David Eggers a month to read it he confesses in the intro to my edition. Ha! That's what my McSweeney subscriber said as well. As I struggled and wanked my way for fifteen years to eventually get over Gravity's Rainbow, (somewhere, oh that's right, in Phuket) I doubt I will be that rapid in my reading...

E@L

* the "I was going write", not the freaked out bit

** Oh that's right, I had mentioned McSweeney's in a facile attempt to make me sound smart (iron, Eiffel tower, who woulda thunk?) a propos who the frack knows what, but one of the guys had been a fracking subscriber to McSweeneys (embarrassment, curl up, ball), and then the question (not from the pub quiz) as to who was the editor of McSweeneys (I thought Rick Moody, but fortunately kept my mouth shut) and then up (on my Google phone) came David Eggers and he subsequently led us through the garden of fracking allusional (new word?) paths of semi-drunken one-up-manship to the topic of the works of one David Foster Wallace (deceased).

2 comments:

knobby said...

ah, but you were going to write that the *toes* were long and thing and splay-toed (??) while wallace wrote that the *feet* were such. entirely different. i think you should feel free to write the passage anyway. not plagiarism. no, no. not at all.

Princess said...

hahaha, it's Thanksgiving today honey.
No more pub quiz for a while. I'm scared of being defeated once again (I know I didn't helped much)

Free Podcast

Related Posts with Thumbnails