Gingrich did so when goaded by Romney regarding his, Gingrich’s, self-described service as a “historian” for Freddie Mac…
That sentence by George F. Will reminded me of a big reason why I just recently decided to stop reading Infinite Jest after about 200 e-pages. So many superfluous pronouns! David Foster Wallace seemed to love putting lots of superfluous wordage in his fiction- pointless footnotes, unnecessary scientific and technical jargon, time-wasting serial numbers of imaginary movies- but the superfluous pronouns irk me the most. ¹
Like in George Will’s quote above, if you’re going to specify that the word “his” refers to Gingrich and not Romney anyway, why put said “his” in the sentence to begin with? “Gingrich did so when goaded by Romney regarding Gingrich’s self-described service as a “historian” for Freddie Mac…” See? Works just fine. And now I can read that sentence without feeling like I hit a speed bump halfway through.
¹ Of course I had a lot of big picture problems with the first 200 e-pages of Infinite Jest, not merely lots of little nitpicks, or else I would have stuck with it much longer. The biggest of my big picture problems was what seemed to be the primary theme, how pretty much everyone’s on one drug or another, even if it’s not a chemical drug, and one of those drugs is entertainment. Perhaps this wasn’t such an obvious idea to build a novel around in 1996, but to me, in the here and now, it feels a-DOY obvious. The obviousness would’ve been tolerable if I laughed more, but the funniest thing I had read in that book was a re-telling of an urban legend about burglars sticking toothbrushes up their butts, which I had already heard multiple times when I was a kid, long before Infinite Jest was published. And while many of the characters felt real and well-developed, I still didn’t care about them much. I didn’t mind the footnotes on principle, but a lot of them were so pointless they made me angry I disrupted the flow of the book to find out the scientific name of some drug and that’s it. I mean, House Of Leaves was full of this Post-Modern crap, but I let it slide because as a whole, that book is like a haunted fun house. Infinite Jest, on the other hand, felt a lot like a chemistry textbook. All that being said, I still think David Foster Wallace could really write powerful sentences, and had a superior eye for the kind of mundane details that can bring a scene to life. That might be why I like his non-fiction way better.