Wednesday, February 20, 2013


I read ‘Infinite Jest’ -the magnum opus of David Foster Wallace. This book was fascinating on many levels. I read the book knowing that Wallace suffered from depression and committed suicide but this did not deter appreciation in any way for his incredible descriptions of drug use, addiction, and recovery. The book was very funny at times and it had to be given that most of the time the subject matter was abuse and addiction with sides of tennis, Canadian conspiracy hit men in wheelchairs, and avant garde film. You may know that the book is filled (about 15% of the total book) with endnotes with some being insightful and some confusing, and some where Wallace indicates “no idea.” Truly a wonderful mind he had. The book does not offer closure and it doesn’t matter. The ride is enough in and of itself and the ride never really ends. I find myself thinking about the book weeks after and figure that most will. I also did this with his ‘Broom Of The System’ –where there was no closure but the ride more than made up for the open end. Infinite Jest does however tease that it will come together. The end is in sight for the beforehand parallel lines but they never converge leaving you wanting more. The truly sad part is not that there will be no closure but that there will be no more.
I also saw ‘The Perks Of Being A Wallflower’ and think this was a great movie. Connection: my wife went to the same high school as the author Stephen Chbosky and parts of the movie were filmed in the neighborhood where she grew up. You know how that is when you have some small connection to someone famous and you take some silly little pride in what they’ve done – like someday you’ll meet them and talk about your connection and hit it off. It is hard for me to believe that Chbosky was a first time director for this film. The directing is just so good that it is hard to believe this was his first time. Where some directors mishandle things like scenes of actors being stoned or tripping on acid, Chbosky nails these with both sensitivity and humor. Maybe some of this is because the plot is close to my own high school years but the box office receipts sort of confirm his directorial ability. The performances are an important part of the success of the film. Where other teen movie performances lack gravitas, these performances (coupled with complementary editing) deliver if you are patient. The film culminates around topics of mental illness, implied sexual abuse, and therapy, ergo the necessary need for gravitas, and the film finishes in a big way without wrapping things up in a bow that suggests there is not work to be done but we believe in Charlie in a not too saccharine way – in a realistic way, warts and all. Conclusion: the ‘Breakfast Club’ of the oughts.

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