Ha! I love the internet. A bunch of my favorite political bloggers (Matt Yglesias, Ezra Klein, and Julian Sanchez, among others [I love that they’re all friends, by the way]) are partaking in Infinite Summer and group-bogging about it.
The title of the blog, of course, comes from a collection of Wallace’s essays, A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again.
The endnotes are clever, but in the aggregate, they’re hedges. They’re the product of a writer who’s never sure if he’s said enough.
Now here’s a tall claim that falls flat. There’s loads of really, really important stuff in the endnotes that just wouldn’t fit in the main text. J.O.I.’s filmography and drug clarifications are the two big examples that come to mind. More than likely, you’ll get through the book wishing he’d said more, but only because you didn’t know what he was talking about the first time around. This is significant.
Or is Québecois? As in, something of or relating to Québec? Wikipedia shows Québecois as the secondary option, but it makes more sense to me. I forgot how he spelled it in the book.
Presumably the point here is to get across not only the text of the notes, but something about the tactile experience of flipping back and forth and constantly losing your place. Except I’m reading the book on a Kindle, so the experience is actually different—you click on a little thingy and jump to the note, then click again and you jump right back. This is, I think, less convenient than a footnote in a conventional book, but more convenient than an endnote. So, internet, am I actually missing something important by having this greater convenience?
I don’t think Wallace was that shallow. It might have amused him to have readers flipping around through time and space and pages. But the endnotes are still there because they matter, so their primary function is to assist in telling the story, and maybe the secondary function is to illustrate how silly a process this is, storytelling. The footnotes to the endnotes are a different matter. They’re are mostly jokes, if I remember correctly. He liked the idea of fitting print in unconventional ways on a page, so I think he’d be fine with the way the kindle renders his book (that’s how the Atlantic piece was written, after all), and more importantly, Mr. Yglesias won’t be missing out on much, besides the obvious signaling of lugging that sucker around on the DC metro.
So while I finished the book a few weeks ago, I’m really happy that so many people are going to be going through it this summer for the first time. I have some thoughts on the themes in the book that are less-than-half-baked that might be ready by September.