IJ quote of the day 47

Wallace’s scene shifts often represent ripping the reader out of one state of mind and cramming her into another, and as such require masterful transitions.
Two such transitions rock my world:
“Poor Tony Krause had a seizure on the T” (299) is possibly the best transition in the whole novel, because it sets the stage for the whole scene, effectively rips us out of the HmH at E.T.A., and yet doesn’t really give anything away.
The second best, I feel, is:
“the Man o’ War Grille on Prospect: Matty sat in the hot clatter of the Portuguese restaurant with his hands in his lap, looking at nothing. A waiter brought his soup. The waiter had bits of either bloodstain or soup on his apron, and for no discernible reason wore a fez. Matty ate his soup without once slurping. He’d been the neat eater in the family. Matty Pemulis was a prostitute and today he was twenty-three” (682).
Yes, it helps that these two transitions, PT Krause and Matty Pemulis set up what are, for me, two of the most visciously and viscerally disturbing scenes of the book. Randy Lenz stayed with me over 12 years, but in this reading both Poor Tony and Matty lept from their pages, slapped me in the face, ripped out my entrails and threw them on the floor before retreating to anonymity in Boston’s dark streets.

Another of the most moving sections has the single worst transition of the novel, thus far. We go from Krause’s release from Cambridge City Hospital to the genesis of his garb to walking by Matty in pursuit of Gompert to Lenz “brandishing the Hog” to “And re Ennet House resident Kate Gompert and this depression issue:”
Appropos of nothing. Out of the blue. And not artful. In the way I suppose the whole anhedonia versus psychotic depression topic is often awkward and forced and uncomfortable.

But Gompert’s depression section is a whole ‘nother quote of the day. Talk, if you’d like, about how Wallace transitions from channel to channel in IJ, how the characters and scenes and triparite narrative objectives work in the jump cuts he offers.

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5 thoughts on “IJ quote of the day 47

  1. Ummm, hi. I have no thoughtful comment here, but I thought of you today because hubs is reading a book called “Stuff White People Like”–

    IJ made the list…the author suggests saying the following about it: Did you know that thing is over 1,000 pages long?

    I think that’s about the level of intelligent commentary I’m capable of.

    • You’re so full of it, KW. you’re capable of intellectual comments that blow me away. you just haven’t read the book. But I was *just* thinking, geez, would it kill one of my buds to just comment something, anything so that I feel like I’m not talking to myself here.
      And look what you did! You sweet dude, you. You’re the awesomest. Really. And not just because you risked losing a digit in the pursuit of helping to raise a really awesome kid.
      And the good news is tonight I thought of an AWESOME and publishable topic about the book that will get me article number two for this year and might push me toward reapplying for PhD programs once things…ahem…settle down around here.

  2. Fascinating. I wonder if I’ll ever be bright enough to read it and get it.
    Hope your doing well. I suspect you’re holding on for dear life becuase of one or the other character, since you haven’t blogged about life for a few days.

  3. Ah, faemom. Of course you are bright enough. And regarding the blogging about life: I just don’t have enough for all of it. And i was behind on the Infinite Jest stuff during a really meaty part, so I give up on whining about nausea and independence-seeking missiles.

  4. Okay, now I am excited about the AWESOME and publishable topic related to IJ! I will read the piece with enthusiasm, although Elle Woods here may not know half of what you’re sayin’! That’s great news, really. xoxo

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