June 16, 2017
How I ate certain of my books
by Ian Dreiblatt
Over at the AV Club this week, Clayton Purdom tells the tale of Jamie Loftus, who’s eating Infinite Jest.
Let me be more specific: he tells the tale of comedian and self-described “freak bitch [with] absolutely no intention of dying” Jamie Loftus, who has written for many publications, grievously offended Congressman Stephen Lynch, and, for a while now, regularly posted videos of herself eating pages from Infinite Jest, the well-known coffee table book by pomo sweetheart David Foster Wallace, darling of ’llectuals and imaginary moviegoers everywhere.
I offer the following three propositions:
- This rules.
- Probably don’t try it at home. Also probably don’t get all weird about the fact that Infinite Jest is great literature, because eating things does not mean they are not great literature.
- There are so, so many books to eat.
Therefore, without further ado, I’m pleased to share the following fine recipes, perfect for eating your way through the canon:
Don Quixote: Should be stewed overnight in a zippy paella. When Don Quixote is fork-tender, pour some wine. Add ice cubes and fruit. Spend the afternoon napping. Wake up. Serve chivalrously.
In Search of Lost Time: For a long time, I dined on this early. Sometimes it was ready so fast that I didn’t even have time to say, “Come, let us eat the masterworks of modernism.” And so I would, but alas, I’d be hungry five minutes later, reaching for the ketchup I imagined was still in my hands, squeezing at nothing. And then I would mistake the waft of these yellowing pages on my breath for the flavor of eating the book anew, until I actually thought I was back in that little kitchen, its floor strewn with garic skins, preparing a fresh herb dressing, thrilling to the thought of all the sturdy hands that had brought these herbs from the earth, the stalwart tarragon farmer, bespectacled representatives of the seed bank, the laborers stoking furnaces for the fashioning of tractors and the breeders raising up generation after generation of horses to pull them. Then, as I grew hungry again, this would all begin to seem unintelligible, as the thoughts of a fine remoulade must be to a crab that knows not yet of its becakedly gourmet future; the flavors of the book would separate themselves from me, leaving me free to choose a distinctive palate of spices. It is crucial, in the case of this book, not to undercook. Dunking, of course, is encouraged.
Middlemarch: Carefully, remove crust from book. Carefully, remove peels from some cucumbers. Carefully, cut the edges from some cheese. Make sandwiches. Eat slowly, one bite per day, over the course of a year. Your neighbors will be watching.
Crime and Punishment: For what do you want food? What can mere material sustenance offer to the human spirit, the faculties of reason and morality? Will you boil this novel with onions in your garret, mad with hunger, merely to fortify yourself to the point of waking again tomorrow and repeating the same, listless charade? Forgive me, I seem to be drunk.
Finnegan’s Wake: Leave the book alone. Have some alphabet soup. Basically the same thing.
My Brilliant Friend: Order some pizza. Wow, this pizza is good. This is some of the best pizza you’ve ever had. Tell everyone. When friends ask you where you ordered the pizza, wink knowingly and say nothing. Wait for some asshole to check your phone and tell everyone where the pizza came from. Well, the pizza’s still good. Tricolor ice cream for dessert.
The Catcher in the Rye: Serve on rye. Duh. Mustard optional.
Frankenstein: Works well in a meal cobbled together from leftovers.
The Art of the Deal: Honestly, I wouldn’t eat this if I were you.
(The author wishes to apologize for the entirety of the preceding.)
Ian Dreiblatt is the director of digital media at Melville House.