You know when you meet a friend of a friend at a party? And you've heard loads about this person, about how wonderful he is?
And then you meet him and, actually, he's a bit of an idiot?
Maybe pretentious? Perhaps a bit arrogant? Hard to relate to and, worst of all, perhaps a smidge disinterested in you? You have a bit of a chat but then wander off to find some whiskey, baffled as to what everyone else sees in him.
But, you know, your paths cross a few more times. And you have to chat to him because he's friends with your friends and you're a nice person. And every now and then you manage to have an interesting conversation, and maybe you start to feel you don't dislike him quite as much?
And then you don't see him for a while and for some reason he keeps popping into your head? So you manage to find out, completely by accident, where he hangs out and you happen to be there one night and you get chatting and, you know, one things leads to another?
So then you're totally in love and it's the best thing that's ever happened and he might still be a bit pretentious and arrogant and whatever, but it totally doesn't matter because he's also witty and smart and sensitive and everything.
And you get married and have lots of only-mildly pretentious children and are mostly and realistically happy for ever more, and end up in the same retirement home eating aniseed balls together. *
You know? Well, that's how I feel about Infinite Jest. As I've said before, it's a beast and it's taken me longer to read than anything else, ever. But I finally finished it and I love it. With a deep, abiding, aniseed ball sort of love.
The sort of book-love that, when you get to the end (and despite the fact that it's taken months to read) you just want to go and start at the beginning again.
I'm not going to write a review. I don't think I could do it justice in a few words and there are plenty out there on the interwebs already. I'm not even going to recommend it, because I can completely see there are a lot of people out there who wouldn't love it.
But if you think you might want to read it... please do. That's all.
Here it is, finally snugged in with the other books. (I only allow books on to the book cases once they've been read. IJ had to live on the kitchen table, where it glowered at me if I hadn't picked it up recently.)
* This is not based on a true story. Well, not mine anyway. I met my love at a dance class and he thinks aniseed is the flavour of the devil. But still... you know?