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Reading Groups

Infinite Jest with William Mottolese

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10 Sessions Thursdays, 6:30 pm EST - 8:00 pm EST December 15, 2022 to June 22, 2023

The Center for Fiction
& Online via Zoom

This reading group has reached its capacity. To join the waitlist, please email Sam Lim-Kimberg at sam@centerforfiction.org.


Meeting Dates:
12/15, 1/5, 1/26, 2/16, 3/9, 3/30, 4/20, 5/11, 6/1, 6/22
Participants may attend in person at The Center for Fiction or participate remotely via Zoom.

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace has become one of those imposing books, like Ulysses or Gravity’s Rainbow, that is a so-called “must read” that few have actually read from start to finish. Over 1,000 pages (including extensive self-penned endnotes) and set in a nebulous near-future North America, Infinite Jest is at once a satirically pointed examination of the millennial America of instant gratification, self-medication, and family dysfunction and an indefinable narrative adventure of shifting voices and time frames, compelling allusions, multiple plotlines, and encyclopedic knowledge.

While Infinite Jest has some of the dizzying playfulness of Barth, the dark themes of Gaddis, and the conspiratorial paranoia of Pynchon, it shares the microscopic lens and density of Proust and the extensive experimentation, love of language, and humor of Joyce. However, Infinite Jest is an entirely singular and anomalous kind of novel. Often called an exemplar of “new sincerity” in fiction, Infinite Jest is a profoundly human work, defined not as postmodernism but something that pushes beyond postmodernism.

In advance of the first meeting, participants should read to page 95 at the break “YEAR OF THE DEPEND ADULT UNDERGARMENT,” along with the endnotes. The “Notes and Errata” should not be neglected.

Recommended Reading:
Elegant Complexity 
by Greg Carlisle

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Led by

  • mottolesew

    William Mottolese

    William Mottolese

    William Mottolese has taught at Fordham University and Saint Joseph’s College in Indiana and is presently Chair of the English Department at Sacred Heart Greenwich. He has published on such subjects as Olaudah Equiano, Laurence Sterne, and James Joyce and is presently at work on projects on Joyce, teaching critical thinking, and the relation of literary modernism to twentieth-century popular music. He has taught for a decade on the faculty of The Center for Fiction where he has led classes on James Joyce, David Foster Wallace, Salman Rushdie, Irish literature, and postcolonial literature. William is an award-winning teacher, published poet, and proud father of three children.