Infinite Failure

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I hate quitting. I really do. It’s admitting failure and defeat. Inability to carry on and get through the hard stuff.

I will struggle and struggle with something, determined to get through it, making myself miserable in the process; until I finally snap to and think “What the fuck for?” Life’s too short. While I agree that anything worth doing probably isn’t going to come easy, there are some things that just aren’t worth suffering for.

Which is why, at just over 400 pages in and well behind schedule, I am officially throwing in the towel on the Infinite Summer reading of Infinite Jest. Oh good Lord this book. Oh good Lord this massive, footnotes with footnotes, what in the hell is exactly going on here book. I’ve read government policy books that were easier to follow along with. Those I finished!

I have a long list of books on the To-Read shelf, and quite a few of them actually reside on my dresser top, stacked two by two because when I tried to stack them all in one big pile there was an incident that may have scarred the cat for life. Next to those two stacks there’s a smaller stack – the finished stack. I love that stack. Which books are special enough to stick around, and who goes back to Half Price books? There’s the sense of accomplishment that comes from moving a book from one of the big stacks to the other. I love reading. I love variety – at any given time reading at least two different books, one work related and the other just for me. Devouring each one and moving on to the next.

Infinite Jest though… it kicked my ass. I’m not ashamed to admit it. I’m told that it is a wonderful book if you can just stick with it. That despite it taking over half of the 1000+ pages for the multitude of stories to meld together and make sense; never fear, it all comes together in the end. The schedule of roughly 75 pages a week seemed completely do-able once the event was announced, and despite the warnings of the difficulty of the material I dove in headfirst. [Literally – I started reading it poolside.] But now, over a month later, I cringe when the helpful little calendar reminder beeps on my iPhone – flashing just what page I should be on at that date, with me so far behind. Whereas a week’s worth of reading would normally earn me an addition to the “finished” pile; a week’s worth of IJ reading only saw the little shark attached to my bookmark move slowly through the sea of pages.

This is not a book for a busy professional who also enjoys a social life now and then. No, this book would be perfectly suited for a cold winter when you never go anywhere unless you absolutely MUST. Or for shut-ins. It is a good book, I very much believe that. And I remain very much interested in how it all plays out. But there’s no way in the world I will be able to catch up and keep the pace to finish on schedule. And realized the other night that I was making myself miserable trying. I love to read. When it becomes a chore and the last thing I’d pick to do, something’s wrong.

So, I’m out. Decided this Sunday night, selecting a book that’s been on my To-Read list for some time now instead. Finished it the very next night. Skipped over to the dresser and happily slapped it down on top of the finished pile. Progress. Progress I could see. Back to the fun again.

And on to the next one.