I FINISHED IT! YAYY!
The story (?) is really confusing to explain, but I'll try... it mainly follows a tennis school, a recovery centre for drug addicts, and a film (I guess?) which is so entertaining that the people watching it completely lose interest in doing anything else (and I mean ANYTHING else).
It is really not an easy book to read, for the following reasons:
The book has about 6 million* pages of endnotes, including a section which is a completely filmography of one of the characters, and goes on for several pages. Some of the endnotes are interesting, and some of them are just frustrating. I ended up thinking "You made me turn to the end of the book for THAT?!" quite a few times.
There are a lot of acronyms used in the book. It gets confusing, especially as they're not flagged up the first time you encounter them. It's possible that the first time you encounter names of things, they are unabbreviated, but there isn't anything which indicates that they will be from that point on, if you know what I mean. I ended up keeping a list of them, once I worked out what they actually stood for.
There are very few convenient places to stop reading.. which would be okay if I had a decent block of time every day to read in, but I end up spreading most of my reading over 10-15 minute slots, and I find it annoying to stop in the middle of sections. Plus, there's always the chance that a section that seems manageable in that amount of time will be full of endnotes.
It has a LOT of different characters, who are all a bit hard to keep track of. Especially at the beginning when you're not sure who is actually important and who isn't.
It needs to be read carefully, otherwise you'll end up even more confused by all of the above!
My feelings towards the book changed quite a bit as I was reading...
First 100 pages or so - Why is this book seen as so challenging? The writing style is really interesting and absorbing, and although everythings a bit disjointed at times, it's fine! <3
100 to 500 pages (ish) - Why so many characters? What? Huh? Whats going on?! Ooooh yes, I imagine that is exactly how it feels to be addicted to something... interesting!
500 pages to the last 100 pages or so - Interesting.. but can I be finished already? I have other books to read, and this one takes too much of my concentration!
Last 100 pages to last 50 pages - Hmm, I feel like things should be coming together a bit more by this point...
Last 50 to 25 pages - Really... isn't everything going to make sense at some point?
Last page - *Throws book across the room* AHHHH!**
Yeah. I had heard that the ending was very abrupt, and didn't really explain anything, but I didn't realise that that meant that it didn't explain or tie off ANYTHING. I don't mind ambiguous endings (in fact, I prefer them in most cases... yay for imagination!), but to make any sense of the ending I think I would have to go back and reread the whole thing, which is in NO WAY happening. I don't want to finish a book, and then have to go and search online for somebody to explain it to me. It makes me wonder if the people who say that this is their favourite book are just much more intelligent than I am, or if they're just pretentious (probably the first one).
In conclusion.. I'm glad that I read it, because I feel like that's some kind of achievement! And I would love to read some shorter David Foster Wallace stuff, because it was interesting, and I really enjoyed his writing style, although it's not the kind of thing I normally go for. But that ending. Urgh. I wish I was the kind of person who could like stuff, even if I'm not convinced by the ending, but I'm just not. Sigh!
*This is an exaggeration, but not much of one!
** Not literally. I could never do that to a book! (Um, but I can put them down next to the sink and get water spots all over them).