It's been called both a “terrible, bloated, boring, gratuitous” product of the “Great American Hype Machine” and a “genius” and “virtuosic” masterpiece. One reviewer initially slammed it as “extravagantly self-indulgent,” only to laud it ten years later as “genius,” “drum-tight,” and “holy shit” (yes, as an adjective). And the book itself, along with its late author, David Foster Wallace, have become symbols of “lit-bro-ism.”
Yep, it’s Infinite Jest — a book so daunting that it’s famous for not being read.
And but… So what happens when two cranky, well-read feminists force themselves to read the (1,067 page, 388-page footnote, ~2.5 pound) thing?
We’ll talk empathy, drugs, religion, tennis and, as Wallace himself put it, “what it means to be a fucking human being.” Listen (and read along) next year.
Colleen Leahy is a Midwestern radio producer and lifelong bookworm. She has worked for WBUR's Here & Now, NPR and KCRW's Here Be Monsters. For the first 25 years of her life, she harbored absolutely no desire to read "Infinite Jest" and never seriously entertained the thought of doing so. Her favorite authors are Anne Carson, Virginia Woolf, Vladimir Nabokov and Elena Ferrante.
Makini Allwood is a Midwestern creative who proselytizes feminism on public transportation sometimes. She's worked as a freelance photographer, blogger, and illustrator and now works in marketing. Before this project, she was like, "Oh David Foster Wallace...He's the one with the bandana, right?" Her favorite "texts" to quote in public are The God of Small Things, Between the World and Me, Beyoncé's Lemonade, and that one article she skimmed through when she should've been working.
Sabine Jansen is a Dutch raised, Brooklyn based, world traveling, curious type with a constant itch for good stories. She used to work in publishing and now produces and edits podcasts. She loves deep fried food. Her favorite texts are Grief Is the Thing With Feathers (Max Porter), White Teeth (Zadie Smith), the TV & Showbiz section (The Daily Mail) and The Evenings (Gerard Reve, yes, she's still flying the flag for Holland). Since working on And But So she totally understands why DFW's Infinite Jest was never translated into Dutch.