paper trail

Apr 2, 2012 @ 11:07:00 am

Small Demons, the new website that obsessively maps out cultural allusions found in books, has completed its most challenging project yet: David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest. The cataloging is extensive, charting the book’s references to hundreds of people (from Benedict Arnold to Carl Sagan to the Brady Bunch’s Eve Plumb), tobacco and drugs, TV shows (Hawaii Five-O), food and drinks (the Big Mac), cars, weapons, etc. Our favorite category is "Everything Else," which features Visine, Frisbees, Depends, and Hefty Bags. What makes Small Demons addictive is that you can click on any of these items and find out what other authors have mentioned them. Click on Krazy Glue, for instance, and learn that Sue Grafton mentioned that product in E is for Evidence. Vermeer is mentioned in many books, including Peter Carey’s Parrot and Olivier in America and Alice Munro’s The Love of a Good Woman; Joni Mitchell appears not just in Infinite Jest but also in Chuck Klosterman IV and Edmund White’s The Beautiful Room Is Empty. And so on and so on...