Infinite Jest fans, you've seen a lot, but this one is... well, just come with me here. Kevin Griffin, an English professor at Ohio’s Capital
University, and his 11-year-old son Sebastian whittled your beloved monster of modern literature down to around 100 key moments, and then
recreated those Infinite Jest scenes with LEGOs. Inspired by Brendan Powell Smith’s The Brick Bible (which depicted the New Testament as a series of Lego tableaux), the Griffins spent six months
working on their project, dubbed BrickJest,
with Kevin providing a synopsis of each selected scene, and Sebastian then building up a
So, if you’ve spent the 18 years since Infinite Jest was first published wishing that someone would finally get around to recreating David Foster Wallace's 1,000+ page novel of addiction, depression, and tennis with LEGOs, then congratulations: You have some very unusual hobbies. But also congratulations, because it finally happened!
The project begs one obvious question (aside from an examination of whether hipster parenting has finally run completely amok): What other books in the modern canon would benefit from the Lego treatment? There’s already a strong body of work out there providing LEGO translations of classic(ish) works of literature; but which contemporary lit favorites could best be depicted using those little interlocking pieces of plastic?
Read on for my picks, and try not to step on any stray LEGO pieces (it's bad for the future of literature and it really, really hurts):
White Noise by Don DeLillo
DeLillo’s most famous novel is already a multi-tiered commentary on modern consumer culture (among other things). So wouldn't it gain yet another tier of commentary via being recreated with a cheap, easily breakable consumer product? Meta, man. META.
Best Scene to Be Depicted in LEGO: Jack and Murray take a trip to see the Most Photographed Barn in America, and riff on its cultural significance.
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Over one long, hot summer, Esther Greenwood feels like she’s helplessly descending into madness. She struggles to communicate her pain to those around her — but is that only because she never attempted to convey her feelings via Lego?
Best Scene to Be Depicted in LEGO: Esther lets Doreen pass out in her own barf in the hallway of the Amazon Hotel.
Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
You’re just another goddamned phony if you don’t want to see this masterwork of teen angst dynamically recreated via plastic toys. Where do the ducks go in the winter? Probably to Lego Land, Holden.
Best Scene to Be Depicted in LEGO: Holden gets his nose bloodied by Stradlater as they fight over Jane Gallagher in their dorm.
Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion
There is only one word that properly evokes the quiet dignity and simmering sadness at the heart of Didion's breathtaking non-fiction tome about the decline of the flower power generation. Do you know what that word is? That word is "LEGO."
Best Scene to Be Depicted in LEGO: young Joan charges food to the Bloomingdale’s gourmet shop just to eat in “Goodbye to All That”
The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson
When Jackson first published her most famous short story in The New Yorker in 1948, it received some of the most vitriolic hate mail in the magazine’s history. In the decades since, it’s been adapted into a TV movie starring Keri Russell, a ballet, and a Marilyn Manson video. It’s even been referenced on The Simpsons. So the only mediums that have yet to be tapped when exploring this dark tale of small-town conformity gone awry are Lego, and, I don't know, let's say... Jello molds.
Best Scene to Be Depicted in LEGO: Tessie Hutchinson yells
“It isn’t fair!” as the crowd closes in around her.
Geek Love by Katherine Dunn
It was just the 25th anniversary of this influential cult classic about the turmoil-filled emotional lives of a family of self-styled circus freaks. What better way to celebrate the enduring legacy of this offbeat favorite than through a garish display of brightly colored, interlocking blocks?Best Scene to Be Depicted in LEGO: Chick sets the Fabulon on fire.
Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth
The New Yorker called this study of modern sexual neuroses "one of the dirtiest books ever published" when it first came out in 1969! The Los Angeles Times declared it "the sickest book of the year, or perhaps the decade." But you will call it “the most unnerving thing I have ever seen depicted using a child’s toy, you incredibly troubled monster-person.”
Best Scene to Be Depicted in LWGO: Alexander Portnoy lies down in repose on the couch of his analyst, Doctor Spielvogel.
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
A Pulitzer Prize-winner, an Oprah’s Book Club pick, and a post-apocalyptic novel full of cannibals — this book is a true triple threat (the third part of the "triple threat" always has to do with cannibals, right?). It’s already an acclaimed film — but how much more acutely would we feel McCarthy’s dark vision of a world nearly devoid of hope if we saw it acted out...with LEGOs?
Best Scene to Be Depicted in LEGO: The man and boy
discover a bunker filled with food and supplies, and feel momentary relief during their long, horrifying slog down the coast.
The Secret History by Donna Tartt
Tartt’s best-selling lit-thriller about murder most foul among a group of privileged college students is famously considered unfilmable. But is that only because no one has yet attempted to adapt it via LEGO?
Best Scene to Be Depicted in LEGO: the members of the Greek clique “come to” covered
in blood after the accidental death of the farmer at their bacchanal.
American Psycho by Brett Easton Ellis
Just kidding, this book is terrible! But everyone sure does seem to keep reading it, huh? Trust me, LEGO could only be an improvement on this one.
Best Scene to Be Depicted in LEGO: The LEGO version of the scene where Patrick Bateman comes after Paul Allen might make up almost entirely for how wretched this book is. Almost.