I read Infinite Jest so you don’t have to

Did you ever get past the first 50 pages?

Everyone said you should read it, so you bought it, and it weighed 20 pounds, and you scratched your head through pages 1-3, daydreamed through the next 47, went to a book club and made up an observation for the free wine, and then you put it back on your shelf and forgot about it for ten years. When someone asked “Have you read this book Infinite Jest?” you sometimes said no and sometimes yes and then became very busy with something else that excused you from the conversation. 

People said things like: 

“Read David Foster Wallace, he’s a genius.”

“This Magnus Opus is the literary version of David Lynch.”

“It’s like watching a reality sitcom over a surveillance camera.”

“It’s sad and American.”

Okay so you hear all these great things and you want to stay in the room after you’ve said “I read that” but you don’t want to burden two years of your life with cryptic prose. Here’s essentially what you’ve got to know:

1. It’s sad and American. 

2. Most takes place at Enfield Tennis Academy

3. It’s a commentary on drug addiction

4. If you don’t like it you’re an idiot

5. Hamlet

6. Postmodernism blah blah blah 

7. Existentialism 

If you know anything about any of these things then you’re almost an expert. Now study one quote and one subject in the book. For example: “don’t leave five minutes before the miracle happens” and feral hamsters.

Recap: sad, American, Hamlet, hamsters. 
Good job. Until you’re ready to scale Mount Jest, you’ll be ready to fake it.