I’m an English teacher by profession, and as such I make it my New Year’s Resolution to read one massive work of literature every calendar year. This year’s work was Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace, which in print comes out to well over 1,000 pages. And it’s…something. I had co-workers ask me what it was about. I wasn’t sure what to tell them. My department head asked me twice, the second time to say it in a sentence or two. That is impossible. The book doesn’t actually have much in the way of a plot, you see, and it more of a free-roaming satire. What plot strands it does have are slow to blossom and most are never even really resolved. Plus, there’s a lot of body humor of the lowest sort, and I’m not really a fan of that.
But now, you too can find out what the book is about in a way that may make more sense than asking me. Capital University English professor Kevin Griffith and his 11, possibly 12 as of this writing, year-old stepson Sebastian have been recreating the entire book using Legos over at their site Brickjest. From what I’ve seen, they’ve done an excellent job, and while Infinite Jest isn’t exactly the height of casual reading, I’d say doing that much with Legos must count as something.
We’ll start at the beginning, when he was writing straight parody humor of writers like JRR Tolkien and still finding his eventual voice for the series. The first book is The Color of Magic, one I actually have not read before, so this will be a new experience for me as well.
On a side note, while many of these novels are short, and most of them are a good, quick, fun read, I’m also an English teacher currently working my way through Infinite Jest, Shakespeare’s Othello and King John, A Canticle for Leibowitz, and the first of the Harry Bosch mystery novels, so I have no idea how often this column will appear, but for now, let’s see if we can get through the first one and go from there.