Regarding the first scene in Infinite Jest, D.T. Max writes:

Wallace saw that the scene was a better lead-in for the novel than the discussion between Hal and his father posing as a professional conversationalist that had stood at the book’s beginning for so long. It captured the sense of terrified isolation that is key to the story, the worry that what we feel we can never express. And it held out a hope rarely signaled in Wallace’s earlier work but dear to his recovery experiences: the possibility that telling a story can heal. (Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story  193)