By Julian Sanchez
As one of those who’s actually reading the book for the first time, I’m not sure what to make of the endnotes yet. My instinct is to find them obnoxious—and doubly so for the endnotes within endnotes, an affectation so twee it makes Shonen Knife look like Black Sabbath. And yet, one of my all-time favorite novels, Pale Fire, is told almost entirely through endnotes—the conceit being that they’re the deranged narrator’s extended, tangent-riddled commentary on a colleague’s poem. I also thought Doug Rushkoff’s Exit Strategy used them to clever effect, providing bemused—and often hilariously confused—commentary from anthropologists far in the future on a manuscript purporting to date from the 20th century’s dot.com boom. So apparently I don’t find them obnoxious when the content is, in some sense, justifying the form because the novel is presenting itself as something other than a novel. It doesn’t look like that’s what’s going on here, and since DFW is a promiscuous footnoter in his essays, I’m assuming it’s just a personal tic. Skimming, it looks like there are a couple massive ones that could have been appendices, and a lot of filler that’s not there because any particular note really adds anything, but because having notes at all announces “behold, I am a quirky, convoluted pomo novel .” But I’m only too happy to be disabused of this initial impression.