Mapping “Infinite Jest”

by Jess

Biblioklept has an interview with artist William Beutler, who mapped the more than 600 locations (real and imaginary) mentioned in David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest and compiled them all in a project called Infinite Atlas. He went page by page through the book (which he’d already read twice) and noted every mention of a geographical location to build his database. Assuming he re-read all the footnotes as well, that amounts to a grand total of 3237 pages. He says:

I think a project like this can serve as a kind of promise to the uninitiated that there really is something here that people feel very strongly about, that it rewards the effort one must put into it. There’s much more to it than just being a hipster status symbol.

I’m glad Beutler added that bit about the hipster status symbol. I hesitate to tell people how much I loved Infinite Jest because it just seems so bandwagony. But this book really is magical. It’s like nothing else in existence. Not only is it a fantastic, extraordinarily crafted story, but it expands the very idea of what a novel is or can be. I love that Beutler’s favorite character in the novel is Don Gately, and that he calls Gately “maybe DFW’s single greatest creation.” Word.

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