August 8th, 2012 / 10:57 am

Interview: Reader Who Yesterday Finished The Recognitions

HTMLGiant: So how long did it take you to read the book? 

David Fishkind: Three weeks I think. It took me about three minutes per page, so… forty-eight hours. I spent two days reading the book.

HG: Did you ever read the book in public places or leave the book out purposefully when visitors were over?  

DF: It was a library copy, so really, it didn’t matter. But yes, I read it on the subway and kept it on my bedroom desk and in my backpack.

HG: How did you deal with it? Do you think you’re a big man or something? 

DF: I don’t know. I thought I’d feel proud of myself. I ate seven or eight handfuls of blueberries when I finished. I didn’t cry or anything. Sometimes I looked words up in the dictionary.

HG: Have you read other Gaddis? How did this book compare?

DF: No. I guess maybe I’ll read JR in a year or a few months or so. I guess I’ll read them all if I don’t first die.

HG: Did you ever read the book while on drugs or alcohol? 

DF: Once or twice I’d had a some alcohol to drink, but it didn’t really do anything. I didn’t feel drunk, though I was… I didn’t tell anyone I was drunk… so…

I didn’t read it on drugs, but don’t quote my name because I don’t want anyone to know I don’t do drugs.

HG: What other “large books” have you undertaken? 

DF: This… you… A few.

HG: What type of training did you do to read The Recognitions

DF: First I read Wittgenstein’s Mistress with the intention to read The Recognitions after. It’s the summer… I can do… That protagonist in Markson’s book mentioned The Recognitions and Gaddis a few times, which was an interesting coincidence. I guess it made me think “When is the part with the clock going to happen?” which was… it was a kind of trigger. I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into until I read the first page… It was… Then I just kept reading.

HG: What type of pacing did you use? Did you read the same amount daily or read it in spurts or what? 

DF: I read when I could. Sometimes at work, other times not at work.

HG: Did you ever think about quitting?

DF: About fifteen pages in I considered quitting.

HG: Do you think everyone should read The Recognitions?

DF: I don’t think everyone should do anything…

HG: What’s your problem anyway? You seem really down or something?

DF: I… No… Reading the book didn’t make everything bleak feeling… I…

HG: Yeah, well put, David. I heard you used the word “diatribe” on Gmail chat and then some words like “gamut” and “druthers” in something else. What’s that about?

DF: That…? Sometimes I have… you know? When you really…

HG: I know a lot of people require approval today. Did you feel a need to talk about “reading The Recognitions” to others while reading the book?

DF: Nobody I know had even read that book. I tried to email some people I don’t know about it… I used the word “diatribe” on Gmail chat once.

HG: Where is the book now?

DF: On the chair in my bedroom. I was going to return it to the library, but then I thought… You know… When…

HG: Well, you did it. What did you think of the experience?

DF: I don’t know. I got to the end and… I tried to, you know, like… I tried to change my Facebook likes to… I wanted. I wanted.

HG: What are you going to—

DF: Once my boss said she didn’t finish Infinite Jest because it was too arduous and annoying or something and I interrupted her and said I’d never give up on something like that, that I’d finished it. Then everyone was quiet… like I’d tried to castigate her and then… I hadn’t, you know… I was trying…

HG: What are you going to read after this endeavor? 

DF: Because I really do like people… I really… I want everyone to be happy. I want to eat the blueberries and look outside and get to the water sometime. I don’t like Europe, you know, because it feels phony… counterfeit. The book was about a struggle, I thought. It was the struggle, where others are just the jest or the big fuck you and this was like… Incorporate me into the religious, I mean moral… artistic… struggle about the, you know the… I was at a party and I was thinking about the…

HG: To read, but what are you…

DF: I just. I look at the things in my room sometimes. I look at the book sometimes.

HG: What… What are you… read?

DF: I got this copy of Falconer at an art exhibit at PS1 where you take free books. It’s in my bag.

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  1. Philip Taylor

      I have just over a hundred pages left to read of this book. I started it months ago. I’ll finish it, but it won’t be a happy task, more like unanesthetized oral surgery. Gaddis does a really good job taking the joy out of reading, yet hinting at brilliance regularly enough to keep you going.

  2. Vook

      Read BULLET PARK instead of Falconer.

  3. David Fishkind

      really? re “Gaddis does a really good job taking the joy out of reading”

      i genuinely enjoyed it… like… it all seemed really funny and engaging

  4. lorian long

      sometimes feel like i’m undergoing unanesthetized oral surgery whenever people say ‘the joy of reading’

  5. lily hoang

      I am reading The Recognitions right now.

  6. bartleby_taco

      Three weeks is pretty quick! Damn. The only part that I thought was tough/annoying to get through was when Wyatt goes back home for the first time and its kind of like “bad Ulysses” (a professor I knew said this, not me). I remember thinking that the first chapter seemed like a whole book in of itself. This interview was kind of incomprehensible?

  7. bartleby_taco

      lol @ ‘fuck you god’

  8. deadgod

      Long books that… in one process or unit or arc… like a metaphor entailing… and formal diversity, maybe, or monotony–and coherence… to enable or catalyze or… like, constructive… but it’s reading… to read without then… I mean:  long books… something…

  9. William VanDenBerg

      I sometimes feel like I’m reading while undergoing unanesthetized oral surgery. But that might be a problem between me and my dentist.

  10. Brooks Sterritt

      “This… you… A few.” ++

  11. Nicholas Grider

      Don’t understand the… and the page count… the gamut… readers with ADHD… some books are longer than others… “difficult”… JR on my bookshelf still unread… La Medusa to get through… pleasure… excited by the possibilities inherent in something big enough to be “epic”…  Infinite Jest formative experience… curious about where this series/segment could go with Pynchon… or McElroy… or La Medusa…  which I’m supposed to be reviewing… could go on… should be reading instead…

  12. Lilzed

      This was funny. I just realized the style of the interview transcript mimics skimming. That’s really funny, skimming a person’s thoughts while they’re expressing them.

  13. J. Y. Hopkins

      Why don’t you like god?

  14. reynard

      that club sandwich looks pretty sketch