Back in the ’90s, when I was the captain of my own cubicle in the depths of corporate America, it was mandatory that my away message on the telephone answering system announced my status and direction so as to avoid any confusion my business comrades might encounter. If memory serves, my standard message was a delaying tactic that assured many fun hours of telephone tag to flatten the productivity curve. It went something like:
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You have reached the office of [me]. I’ve just stepped out on a special assignment but can be expected to return momentarily. Please leave a clear message stating your full name, date, time, call-back number, and the detailed purpose of this contact. I will immediately respond when I return. Your call is very important to me.
Dave Eggers wrote the Forward to the most recent publication of David Foster Wallace’s best known tome, Infinite Jest. My copy of this book is late enough that the critical acclaim showered on the novel is acknowledged, but too early for such a forward as Eggers was commissioned to write.
And it is a good Forward: not too long but long enough to engage the reader with Egger’s personal experience reading Infinite Jest and also to suggest some of the strengths of the novel and its author. The Forward works well as a boost to anyone who has not read the novel: I recommend you read it in its entirety but, to the whet the appetite, I’ll include the beginning of the Forward. Those readers who have the older edition are invited to read the remainder of the piece while leaning against the shelves at your local Barnes and Noble.
Continue reading “Infinite Jest”