The Infinite Jest Summer Challenge

When I develop the curriculum for Stanford’s Continuing Studies program, I often like to create courses around big, hard books that students have long intended to read, but have never quite pulled off: James Joyce’s Ulysess, Plato’s Republic, Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, you get the picture. For many students, it takes a course, or something equivalent, to provide the structure and encouragement to get through a truly major work.  A more modern example is Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace’s 1100 page sprawling novel, which TIME Magazine included on its list of all-time 100 novels. To help you work through the novel, a web site called Infinite Summer has invited readers to tackle the novel with other readers starting on June 21. Here’s the basic invitation:

You’ve been meaning to do it for over a decade. Now join endurance bibliophiles from around the web as we tackle and comment upon David Foster Wallace’s masterwork, June 21st to September 22nd. A thousand pages1 ÷ 93 days = 75 pages a week. No sweat. 

Return to this site on June 1st for full details. In the meanwhile, buy or borrow a copy of the novel, follow us on Twitter (#infsum), join the Facebook group, and clear your literary schedule for the foreseeable future.

If I can wrap up Brothers Karamazov (my current read) by then, I’ll give it a go. In the meantime, you should definitely give this some thought. Also, as a quick aside, you may know that David Foster Wallace tragically committed suicide last year. To learn more about DFW, his writing career, and spiral into depression, give this piece in The New Yorker a read.

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