You tried to read Infinite Jest, but thought 40 or so pages in: ‘What is this? What am I even reading? This is good writing, but I don’t get it. Fuck this’. It’s OK, Michiko Kikutani thought the same thing, and said so in the New York Times. She can’t write, but David Foster Wallace could really write, even if you could only enjoy it in small, chewable-vitamin form. You certainly thought that much, even if you couldn’t get through Jest. ‘The simplicity,’ you thought, ‘where’s the simplicity? Where’s the elegance of saying as much as possible without wasting a single word? Maybe I just don’t get it.’ You don’t get it, and that’s OK. Maybe there’s not a wasted word to be found in that 1000+ page book. That would be amazing, but it’s probably not true.
People are judging you on that, and you can’t do anything about your preferences, and you shouldn’t. You read Vonnegut, devour his ability to push your wig back with pith and prose that seems lean and whimsical, wonder how in the hell he could write God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater without bursting into flame because dude was so on that he had to have just burst from the internal pressure consistently great writing creates. That how you would have felt, at least. You don’t know, and maybe you never will, but you’re cool with that.
You like slipping unnoticed and then punctuating life with grand surprises, springing traps that catch people stark naked, scratching genitalia early in the morning before post-coitus breakfast — that shit that makes them wryly smile and say ‘Ha! You got me.’ You have a style, it’s your style, you like your style. It is genitive; it is of you, it is a style that you possess, that reminds everyone of your existence and makes everyone stand up and look for you. But you aren’t there, because you’re already making plans to slip back under the comfortable cover of anonymity, of being just some dude/tte.
You look at the Faulkner books sitting on your shelf. There’s one old stolen library book containing As I Lay Dying and The Sound and The Fury, printed in the early 70s, that reminds you that you prefer Absalom Absalom! because Thomas Sutpen was such a maniac, such a force of malevolence and mindless accumulation that his downfall was satisfying, though you wouldn’t wish it upon anyone else. You smile at the knowledge you’ve accumulated, you smug tweed-wearer, you. You call yourself an asshole and chuckle quietly at your conceit, try to remind yourself that you couldn’t read Jest, you weren’t smart enough to get it, you couldn’t focus enough to put in the work you lazy bombaclot eediot and now you don’t care. You look to your left to see if there is any coffee remaining in your mug…it is cold and nasty because you couldn’t drink it fast enough. You cannot be blamed; it was Cafe Caribe, which you bought because you have no money and were desperate for a caffeine fix. Cafe Caribe is an abomination, and you know it, and you bought it anyway because that’s how a junkie works. Is that how a junkie works? You wonder.