The Ilonka Reader

Notes on the Books I Have Read

Month: September, 2016

Infinite Jest

By David Foster Wallace

This is my second time reading Infinite Jest. The first time after I finished I immediately searched ‘What’s the ending of Infinite Jest’ on the internet out of mad frustration that it ended in what seemed to be the middle of an otherwise unimportant scene and a deadly important plot. But this second time around I basked in the ending which felt just right, just as Wallace said he wanted it to be: a perfect pitch. … And then I searched ‘What’s the ending of Infinite Jest’ again and read some people’s ideas and realized that I didn’t care too much about the plot ending, the various parallel lines that are meant to converge just past the frame. What I really cared about was the plot that did exist, the parts inside the frame, which themselves are so tightly wound and intricate that I had plenty to chew on without bothering about the speculation.

The book is amazing, much better the second time around though both times I got to a point in which it engulfed me. I struggle to be engulfed in long books in the same way a normal-sized novel can really pull me in, the length is so daunting that the writing has to really show up to make me get over the fact that I realistically cannot rush-read the whole thing. Wallace does this, with only a few sections that tired me out and a single section that I’ll admit I skipped. Despite this the book still requires work, which Wallace wanted, and the work elevates the return. It’s worth it. Read it.


On the Genealogy of Morals

By Friedrich Nietzsche

I read this because a practical philosophy-inclined friend of mine kept mentioning Nietzsche ideas in a way that made me convinced I would be a Nietzsche fan. The book is short, three essays that tie together some of his ideas on the evolution of morals. Nietzsche writes them almost poetically, with stark, arrogant style that’s all his own. Unlike some books in which the writer disappears behind their clean prose, Nietzsche is definitely present.

I loved the beginning, but as I worked through the essays I tired of his style and started to disagree with some of his ideas; at the last essay I became confused with what his subject matter even was. Short as it is, I’m not sure I’d read it again even though I know it deserves several reads to fully understand it.