I’ll have a longer post about the first 63 pages later — I’m working this afternoon — but my snap observation is that the opening reminds me a lot of the opening of Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Magnolia” (1999).
I first noticed it in the section about the burglary victim with the head cold; that whole bit had the tragi-comic efficiency and off-kilter feel of the opening scene of “Magnolia,” in which the narrator tells a series of stories with neat, ironic outcomes — the first of which was a robbery-cum-murder by three vagrants. And then it occurred to me that the beginnings of both “Magnolia” and Infinite Jest set up a series of narratives that do not obviously interlock but that you expect will over time, and both introduce an exceptional, troubled boy.
Anderson’s film followed Infinite Jest by two years, so I wonder if he had read the book.
Huge fan of “magnolia.” the episode you’re referring to in the film is actually lifted wholesale from a tidbit in Charles fort’s “wild talents.” I think both pt and Wes (tenenbaums) were at the very least familiar w/ the addiction/genius/dysfunction tropes and terrain that “ij” was mining…
I was actually reminded of Magnolia during the scene with Kate Gompert starting on page 68. The way her character is described lines up with the addict character John C. dates in the movie, and it was then I made the same connection you did.
And I’ll bet he did read it.
I’m glad someone else made the same connection I did. I think after the Wardine section and the transvestite hookers section (and its connection with the purse heart) made me think of Magnolia. And what is Magnolia but a series of Americans trying to understand life?