Thursday, July 02, 2009

July already

Odd to think that I will be somewhere in North American airspace at this time in a week. Booked several flights, about two years' worth of flying by my usual measures.

The itinerary is unnecessarily complicated, due to North America's inability to offer sensible and convenient train travel. Case in point: Milwaukee (destination two) and Regina (destination three) both have train stations, but one is Amtrack and the other is VIArail. Their networks connect at precisely three points, none of which is in the Midwest. So I will fly from one city which has a train station to Toronto and there take a connecting flight to another city which has a train station. Absurd. This hub & spoke arrangement might make economic sense for the airlines but it is hell on us passengers.

In case you are curious, the list of places I will voluntarily visit is: Chicago, Milwaukee, Regina, Durham NC, and New Jersey. I will pass with gritted teeth and not-only-subvocal expressions of dismay through: Toronto, either Calgary or Edmonton or Denver, and possibly Raleigh NC.

I have started reading Infinite Jest by the late DFW, responding to the challenge/invitation issued by the crew at Infinite summer: to read the whole damned thing, all 981 pages (in this edition) and 388 endnotes, some of which have footnotes of their own. I'm up to page 212 and endnote 74* and am loving it.

I can't for the life of me think how IJ stayed below my radar for these thirteen years***, because it is very much the kind of book that I love: Excursive, discursive, voluble, laconic, fond of words as things in their own right, curious about and amused by the whole world. Probably I was put off it (or DFW, as I hadn't read anything longer than a magazine article by him) by the enormous hype. In this case, surprisingly enough, it was justified. IJ is quite marvellous, it's sure to be one that I keep and re-read.

Other than that life has been going on much as it usually does. Lots of panic this week, with an average of 10.5 hours a day on the first four days. Tomorrow will be easier, Fridays are always only half-days for me (because Susan hosts a meditation session in the mornings) — but architects' half-days are often six hours long anyway.

* I think I've had that one already. It's hard to be sure because I tend to keep reading beyond the end of the note that I flipped** back to read.

** Well, I say "flipped" but in fact I have a second bookmark set in the notes.

*** Actually this should be no surprise at all that I didn't read IJ when it was new and highly praised, as that is my usual response. I assume that the reviewers are in fact praising the item's fashionability and up-to-date-ness, and further assume that it will be seen as nearly worthless once the fashion changes and the calendar has shed a few leaves. This spares me having to read a buttload of dross, but means that I occasionally miss out on significant delights. Ah well, better late than never.

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Blogger Bruce Oksol said...

Welcome back; enjoy your trip. I doubt if you will see much change; life continues about the same. In case you missed it being overseas, Michael Jackson, the dancer, passed away this past week. There was some news coverage about that, which you might find in old newspapers when you get here.

July 3, 2009 at 2:03:00 a.m. GMT+2  
Blogger Zhoen said...

No sin in waiting for a book to age properly. Same book a decade or so on.

I agree about the abysmal rail service, and I love trains. sigh.

word verification: obookey. Struck me funny.

July 3, 2009 at 3:46:00 a.m. GMT+2  
Anonymous Seraphine said...

i try never to travel with gritted teeth. a smile works better, in my opinion.
but of course, you know that.

July 3, 2009 at 5:40:00 a.m. GMT+2  
Blogger JoeinVegas said...

We don't believe in passenger trains any more. Surprised those things are still around.

July 7, 2009 at 1:28:00 a.m. GMT+2  

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