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The Book

Posted by on November 22, 2002

So I spent last night communing with The Book.

The Book is cumbersome to haul about, but I do it. I read it standing up on the subway, even, flipping back and forth between the bookmark in the story and the bookmark at the back where the footnotes are. So far I am at the 203rd footnote, and there are so many ahead of me. Some stretch for pages; some reference sub-notes; some require that you read footnotes which are a hundred footnotes past the footnote you’re reading now, forcing you to tear off yet a third bookmark.

Then there is the writer. The writer has read all of Finnegan´┐Żs Wake, more than once, and is pretty sure he understood it. (He thinks, though, that girls will like him for this.) He has wet dreams about being Thomas Pynchon, and I mean being in the “Being John Malkovich” sense of going around ordering his tea towels and brushing his own Pynchon-esque teeth.

Either that or he’s married and humble and has small, unattractively uncool dogs whose hairs he uncomplainingly vacuums from the carpet, and he goes to small dinner parties with old friends and has a comfortable sex life.

This is the brilliance of The Book. It could go either way. I picked it up from the Millers, but only in the sense that one picks up a disease. No, no, I started saying as soon as I saw the sheer cussed size of the blasted awful apocalyptic thing, get it away from me, backing away with my hand over my mouth to prevent the book germs from flying down my windpipe and taking root there and slowly growing page-like fungi in my larynx until I choked myself on my own newly-acquired vocabulary. But Ian just kept on coming, grinning like a maniac, Take it, take the book, and I was crouched down on the corner of the sofa in the well-appointed Miller living room, sort of crying in a bewildered child way and making a palsied cross with my index fingers as all two hundred pounds of all eleven hundred pages of The Book came crashing down into my lap, word after word after word after word after word just leering at me, silently, under the deceptively peaceful cover. By which, we all know, you really can’t judge.

But so anyway I took The Book home and ignored it for a week. It grumped around the living room and left wet towels on the floor and ate all the chips. Finally I opened it in sheer desperation, hoping that once I started taking it places I might have the luck to accidentally leave it on a bus somewhere.

But The Book is the golden goose, if that’s the fable I’m looking for, and I’m stuck with no help for it but to encourage the rest of you to touch it yourselves and be stuck along with me. Because misery, well, you know.

9 Responses to The Book

  1. ian

    ahhh, the book. it’s like a diseased albatross hanging around one’s neck, no? yes, i think it is.

    but the best is still ahead of you, o seeker of knowledge….

  2. didofoot

    interlace conspiracy! related to pot smoking, related to obviously the late incandenza’s films, related to I bet the tennis board somehow but how? and I gotta say, the moms and john wayne thing just hit me out of nowhere, and RIGHT when I had to get off the subway. SUCKS!

  3. sean

    Dood, I loved the book, but I hated it once I was done. Maybe I require more resolution from my mega-novels, but at least Mr. Foster Wallace isn’t as obsessed with Jesus and penises as Mr. Pynchon.

    I also feel that Mr. Wood would be a superior Eschaton player. And the section about the evolution of the futuristic videophone technology was amazing. I used to lug the book everywhere, even walking around West Berkeley, developing strained forearms from the sheer weight fo the tome, dodging cars and potholes at the last second because I was too engrossed in Don Gately’s struggles with pain bills and/or Quebecoise.

  4. didofoot

    i know, i was thinking about lad-as-pemulis all through that section, except I think he would be more heart-breakingly exasperated than furious.

  5. didofoot

    p.s. it’s comforting to know someone else got through it. probably you dashed it off while waiting for your sat papers to cool off after you completed every question perfectly?

    now how long has it been since someone gave you a thumbs up on your sats? just too darn long.

  6. tracy

    well, i guess i WILL have to read it when you finish it. IF you finish it. and i guess i’m looking forward to it? not sure yet. keep me posted.

    oh, and what kind of chips did the book eat. since it’s our book, and it’s been an awful house guest, we will replace the chips and whatever else it breaks or eats.

  7. sean

    Gene is too calm to be Pemulis, but I did see some parallels between the kid who starts the Eschaton rioting (Ingersoll?) and our own Aaron Vinson, who has attempted similar apocalyptic gambits in role playing games in the past.

  8. holohan

    i think i’ll avoid reading this book by imposing a unilateral ban on all works that use shakespeare quotes as titles. that’s also why i never saw “the quick and the dead.”

    note that the ban applies only to direct quotes. “the sound and the fury” is still fair game.

    i also won’t see any more movies that start with the word “american.” you know, in case you were wondering.

  9. doug

    Hey the book contradicts its self so much it is not even funny. This book is corrupted so bad i think they need to through it away and start over and tell um to try again

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