Let’s be honest, many summer to-do lists are often chock-full of unchecked boxes by the end of August, normally with items like “rewatch GoT,” or “go on a hike,” but on some people’s list is to to finish “Infinite Jest.” That’s right, that billion and a half page novel by David Foster Wallace (OK, it’s really 1,079 pages but close enough!) is able to be completed within one season AND many people have done it.
“Infinite Jest” is the quintessential novel for the pretentious and proud. Set in a North American dystopian land, this novel covers the tropes of addiction, family, and suicide.
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You can use the page Infinite Summer to make a guided timeline, and even read reviews and content from other readers, like Colin Meloy from the band “The Decemberists.”
Along with the commentary on the book by celebrities, they offer tips for reading the massive novel. One that is stressed over and over again is not to skip the footnotes. Each footnote is imperative to the story. Since flipping between pages can be a hassle, just shove a bookmark in the back to swap from text to encyclopedia.
Though reading is supposed to begin in June, it is never too late to cross off those summer-bucket-list items. Block off your calendars, set a goal, and in the words of Tim Gunn, “make it work!”
Thomas Edison was inspired by Thomas Jefferson. Einstein was inspired by Isaac Newton. Everyone in this world has an influence, including the greatest scientist. It is the same for the greatest writers. They have influenced you, but who influenced them? Here are authors and some of their favorite books and authors.
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Vladimir Nabokov, the affluent Russian-American novelist, is famous for the dark and controversial story ‘Lolita.’ In an interview with The Paris Review, he says his childhood was full of Wells’s work. “‘H. G. Wells, a great artist, was my favorite writer when I was a boy… His sociological cogitations can be safely ignored, of course, but his romances and fantasies are superb.”
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Jonathan Franzen, Pulitzer prize winning author and selected as part of Oprah Winfrey’s book club, is famous for the book ‘The Corrections.’ This was a novel about social criticism in the late 1990s about the economic boom caused by technology.
When asked by Entertainment Weekly what book made him a writer, Franzen mentions ‘The Trial’ by Kafka (And ‘Harriet the Spy’). Franzen says ‘What the two have in common is main characters who are at once sympathetic and morally dubious.’
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Stephen King, notorious for pumping out novels quicker than most people can read them, is not able to do so without inspiration.
In an interview with The New York Times, King states his favorite author is Don Robertson, who wrote Paradise Falls, The Ideal, Genuine Man and Miss Margaret Ridpath and the Dismantling of the Universe. “What I appreciate most in novels and novelists,” he says “is generosity, a complete baring of the heart and mind, and Robertson always did that. He also wrote the best single line I’ve ever read in a novel: Of a funeral he wrote, ‘There were that day, o Lord, squadrons of birds.’”
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With late author David Foster Wallace’s suicide, friend D.T. Max wrote a large (as is the style of DFW) memoir called ‘Every Love Story is a Ghost Story.’ In an article by Flavor Wire, he shares the books DFW read, including ‘The Crying Lot of 49’ by Thomas Pynchon.
Max says “Lot 49 was an agile and ironic meta-commentary, and the effect on Wallace cannot be overstated (so much so that in a later letter to one of his editors Wallace, ever nervous of his debt to the other writer, would lie and say he had not read the book). Wallace reading Pynchon was, remembers Costello, ‘like Bob Dylan finding Woody Guthrie.’”
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The Bard was one who inspired the works of many many people. William Shakespeare, however, wasn’t the beginning of literature, he was merely a contributor. One of his favorite authors to borrow plots from was Geoffrey Chaucer. Chaucer is a middle-English writer, famous for the ‘Canterbury Tales.’
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Ray Bradbury’s novels are written like poetry: full of imagery and gorgeous. He is most famous for his sci-fi novel ‘Fahrenheit 451,’ a book about the banning of books. In the novel, the main character is responsible for destroying all books that he finds. It sounds more like a horror story to us.
In an interview with The Paris Review he cites his famous authors in sci-fi. The one he relates to most is Jules Verne, author of ‘Journey to the Center of the Earth.’ Bradbury says “I’ve found that I’m a lot like Verne—a writer of moral fables, an instructor in the humanities. He believes the human being is in a strange situation in a very strange world, and he believes that we can triumph by behaving morally.”
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David Sedaris is witty, hilarious, and one of the most relatable authors to date. Many of his memoirs are self-defacing, but contain truths that are relevant to any reader.
In an interview with The New York times, he says ‘What We Talk About When We Talk About Love’ by Raymond Carver left a huge impact on him. Sedaris says “His short, simple sentences and -familiar-seeming characters made writing look, if not exactly easy, then at least possible. That book got me to work harder, but more important it opened the door to other contemporary short story writers like Tobias Wolff and Alice Munro.”
So now you can read what they read and make your own conclusions. Would you have guessed any of these?
Little, Brown and Company is planning to release a new edition of the author’s famous and groundbreaking novel for the work’s 20th anniversary next year. The book was originally published in February of 1996.
To design the cover of the anniversary edition, the publisher is turning to the public. They’re hosting a design contest with a top prize of $1,000 in the form of an American Express gift card. More importantly, the winning design could be featured on the cover of the new printing of Infinite Jest.
Hopeful designers will have to get started right away: the contest deadline is September 15, which is just a little more than two weeks off. If you are planning to make a submission, make sure that you read all of the contest’s rules. The publisher will announce the winner of the contest this coming October.
It’s been a big year for David Foster Wallace fans. The legendary author is also the subject of a popular film starring Jason Segel and Jesse Eisenberg.