Buy Used
CDN$ 14.57
+ CDN$ 6.49 shipping
Used: Good | Details
Sold by Daily-Deal-
Condition: Used: Good
Comment: This Book is in Good Condition. Used Copy With Light Amount of Wear. 100% Guaranteed.
Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

The Broom of the System Paperback – May 1993

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

See all 16 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price
New from Used from
Kindle Edition
"Please retry"
Paperback, May 1993
CDN$ 43.56 CDN$ 14.57

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
click to open popover

No Kindle device required. Download one of the Free Kindle apps to start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, and computer.
Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 467 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Canada / Non-Fiction; Reprint edition (May 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0380719916
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380719914
  • Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 14 x 21 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 363 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,183,333 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  •  Would you like to update product info, give feedback on images, or tell us about a lower price?

Product Description

From Library Journal

The year is 1990, and the place Cleveland. Lenore Beadsman works as a telephone operator for Frequent and Vigorous Publishers. Her roommate's name is Candy Mandible, their parrot is Vlad the Impaler, there is a Judith Prietht, and businesses have names like Hunt and Peck. Lenore's great-grandmother and several cronies disappear from their nursing home, and the search for them leads across the Great Ohio Desert (G.O.D.). The novel is largely dialogue, much of it quite funny and perceptive. Obviously not aimed at the Danielle Steel or Robert Ludlum crowds, Wallace's book will appeal to people his age (mid-20s) and to older readers who enjoy trying the unfamiliar. Libraries serving such patrons should consider it. Mary K. Prokop, CEL Regional Lib., Savannah, Ga.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"Daring, hilarious... a zany picaresque adventure of contemporary America run amok." —The New York Times

"Wonderful... a cathartic experience with lots of laughs and lots of deeper meanings." —The Washington Post Book World

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

See all Product Description

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5 stars
5 star
4 star
3 star
2 star
1 star
See both customer reviews
Share your thoughts with other customers

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
First let me preface by saying that, no, I have not read Infinite Jest. I wanted to read his two novels in the order that they were written, hence Broom of the System came first. So I'm not going to spend time here comparing the merits of the two novels, since I can't.

Broom of the System is a strange, off-beat, inventive, hilarious and philosophical novel. DFW has a love for incorporating many view points and different styles of writing; in this novel alone we get transcripts, first person diary entries, stories within stories, third person and even a news release at one part. But that's not to say that the novel doesn't have a cohesive feel.

The plot is too complex to really go into totally, but it centres around the disappearance of Lenore Beadsman's grandmother, also named Lenore. Lenore, a philosophy major, has an overbearing and super jealous boyfriend, who also happens to be her boss at a publishing house in which she works as a switchboard director. She has a roommate named Candy Mandible, a wide ranging and bizarre family (of whom, her brother, LaVache with his drug habits and prosthetic leg, is the best), and a bird named Vlad the Impaler.

The style is kind of like a cross between Don DeLillo's dialogue and Kurt Vonnegut's social satire. But really there is nothing quite like reading David Foster Wallace. For those that are frightened of David Foster Wallace for whatever reason, don't be. His short story writing, especially in Oblivion, can be inaccessible and frustrating, but luckily Broom of the System doesn't fall into either of those categories.

This is the kind of novel that you can analyze, if you wish, and get into the philosophy, or you can just read it because it's hilarious. Win win, really.
4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again.
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
In his all too brief career as a writer, David Foster Wallace was recognized quickly as the finest writer of our generation. A most astute assessment made by the likes of exceptional peers such as Rick Moody and David Lipsky; the latter, the author of a recent best-selling travel memoir, "Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself", recounting a five day road trip spent with Wallace. That Wallace was destined for literary greatness is clearly demonstrated in this novel, "The Broom of the System", written as an honors thesis at his undergraduate alma mater, Amherst College. It is an exceptional, fascinating, often compelling work of fiction that ranks with my own favorite outstanding modern literary debuts; "Neuromancer" (William Gibson), "Fool on the Hill" (Matt Ruff), and "Gun, With Occasional Music" (Jonathan Lethem). However, with the notable exception of Gibson, no other writer can lay claim to influencing an entire generation of his peers, like, for example, Rick Moody, whose most recent novels, "The Diviners" and "The Four Fingers of Death", could be seen as partial homages to Wallace's exceptional literary craft.

Wallace's greatest strength as a writer was his uncanny ear for great dialogue, which is one of the most admirable traits in "The Broom of the System". Another was his ability to create great characters like his heroine Lenore Stonecipher Beadsman. While the book is fundamentally a "Perils of Pauline" saga recounting the romantic - and otherwise - misadventures of Lenore, there are ample witty asides to everything from boardroom politics to Wittgenstein. I read this novel a few months ago, but I still can't get it out of my head, so compelling is Wallace's portrayal of Lenore and her friends and colleagues.
Read more ›
One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again.
Report abuse

Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa4cb993c) out of 5 stars 123 reviews
132 of 141 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa538863c) out of 5 stars Deliriously inventive, more accessible than "Infinite Jest" May 21 2000
By Tung Yin - Published on
Format: Paperback
When I was in my early twenties, I read a lot of works by emerging young writers like Jay McInerney, Bret Ellis, and others. Looking back on it now, it seems unfair to put David Foster Wallace in the same category as those writers, as he is far more talented and imaginative.
"The Broom of the System" is Wallace's debut, and like most first-borns, it received the most love and attention. It's more accessible than "Infinite Jest" and can be read more easily in smaller chunks without having to figure out, for example, when the events being narrated actually took place.
There isn't much of a plot in "Broom," which is remarkable when one considers that the novel runs over 500 pages. Loosely speaking, it's about the travails of Lenore Stonecipher Beadsman, a 24 year old woman who works as a telephone switch operator for a magazine edited by her lover, Rick Vigorous, who is anything but. Her grandmother (also named Lenore) has disappeared from her nursing home, and Lenore is the only one who seems worried. But that's only a fraction of what the book is about.
It's full of stories within stories, some the sad submissions that Vigorous derides (but that are far better than his limp and self-indulgent attempts at writing), others little asides that seem irrelevant but aren't. Mostly, "Broom" is an exploration of language and ideas -- some chapters involve highly detailed descriptions of, for example, the Goldberg-like trail of a pebble; other chapters are entirely dialogue, with no description of who is speaking (but which is clear from context).
In other words, this is not a novel about sex and drugs (although there are sex and drugs), and it's not a shallow, Gen-Ex picture of excess. The nearest comparison I can think of, in a loose way, is Neal Stephenson's "Cryptonomicon."
108 of 118 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa49d0234) out of 5 stars I Read "Infinite Jest", Should I Read This Too? March 12 2003
By William McNeill - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Well, did you like "Infinite Jest"? If so, then yes. "Broom of the System" may not be more of the same, but it's at least less of the same: shorter and less convoluted but with a similar meandering structure and Douglas-Adams-as-grad-student sensibility. "The Broom of the System" is a solid piece of highbrow comedy that stands on its own, though it's hard for "Infinite Jest" fans not to approach it as a warmup. Here's where DFW takes his first crack at many of the themes that wind up in Infinite Book: the (I guess unsurprising) obsession with prodigies, particularly adolescent males who do well in school, the fearless embrace of pretension, and a weakness for glib patter that nicely sets off the occasional jab of sincerity that manages to peek through. The prose is loopy, though more conventionally so. DFW had not yet worked out the collision of stoner-speak and dissertationese that gave "Infinite Jest" its distinctive voice, but the seeds are there. Even plotwise there are echoes: like "Infinite Jest", "Broom of the System" ends in medias res, and it's interesting to see version 1.0 of this neat trick. BotS may not be a re-reader, but it's definitely a reader, and an enjoyable one, assuming you like this sort of thing.
And if you don't? Specifically, what if you disliked "Infinite Jest"? Then the question becomes: how much did you dislike "Infinite Jest"? Say you found it annoying from the word go, think DFW is an insufferable smartypants, and hurled (or more like shotputted) the book across the room soon after the chapter that begins "Where was the woman who said she'd come. She said she would come" and continues in that vein for a good ten pages? Well, obviously you're going to hate "Broom of the System" too. If you're more of a middling Wallace non-fan, however, someone who finds him pretty good but too self-indulgent, made it about halfway through IJ, and can chuckle good naturedly at the Onion headline "Girlfriend Stops Reading David Foster Wallace Breakup Letter At Page 20", then BotS might be for you. It's DFW before he had developed either the courage or the inclination to go completely nuts. And there's not a footnote in sight.
61 of 68 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa48df318) out of 5 stars Lovely piece of Meta-David Sept. 8 2003
By David Beavers - Published on
Format: Paperback
Curious and wonderful to see what someone as (obviously insane?) as DFW did back when he was still in a grad program for creative writing -- back when he was just a cunning tyke of 26, before (presumably) the MacArthur Fellowship had given him an oversized novelty cheque just for being really really smart --- before he started writing 1100 page behemoths and incalculably inscrutable short stories. Broom Of The System is, in a way, as straightforward a narrative as DFW ever has written (although there are plenty of POV shifts and a huge, steaming plate of metafictional story-on-story action)... It is a jumping off point, certainly, and you can see some of his fabulous textual obsessions of later books (fathers and dysfunctional families and drugs and addictions) in their earlier forms, here. DFW is to fiction what the band Rush was to music: he is a prog-rock artist, switching POVs and the like with a merciless disregard for tradition, and it's probably best to view his work-- esp. something like Infinite Jest -- as experiments, and not "stories." But with Broom of the System you get a little bit of both -- the first chapter in particular, I think, is one of the most flat-out charming bits of DFW's that I've read.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa46303b4) out of 5 stars A Kindle-specific review March 29 2011
By bo butler - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm not going to go into the story much because a) who am I? and b) there are plenty of people here and elsewhere who have. What I want to talk about it the Kindle format of this book.

To put it simply: I feel like this might have been a book that Amazon first used to experiment with Kindle formatting. There are all kinds of weird things, but two specific ones showed up all the time.

Most notably, almost any time the character 'r' is followed by the character 'n' in the actual text, the Kindle version reads those two characters together an a 'm'. So instead of 'torn' you get 'tom.' Instead of 'Vern' you get 'Vem.' I think I found one instance in which this didn't happen, otherwise I had to 'translate' in my head.

Secondly, on many occasions the quotation marks ending a line of dialog were preceded with a space. So you have something like this: "Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, ". What often happens then is that the final quotation mark ends up on the next line all by itself. Which isn't a big deal but looks really weird.

There are other, less-frequently-occurring oddities, but none were as pervasive as the ones listed above. And even these aren't a huge concern except that they yank you out of the narrative experience - make you aware of the fact of reading, which, ironically, Wallace would have smiled at I think. But this is why editors & typesetters for centuries have been careful about spelling and formatting and all that goes with it. My Kindle has quickly become one of my favorite devices, and I wish Amazon (or whoever it is that actually makes the Kindle editions) would apply the same level of care, concern and commitment to their formatting that traditional editors & typesetters have done for a long time.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa48ac5a0) out of 5 stars If you loved Infinite Jest, you'll like this book Dec 31 1998
By Jeffrey S. Bennion - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
..and if you didn't like IJ, you'll hate this one, though it is a shorter read. In Broom, we see the precursors of everything that's in IJ -- a wacky, fanciful alternate universe (Cleveland shaped like Jayne Mansfield, linguistic booster hormones in baby food, the G.O.D.), disjointed storylines told from multiple points of view, crackling and whip-smart dialog, absurd but still believeable characters (Rex Metalman who thinks his lawn is a WWI trench, Wang Dang Lang, the narcissist who thinks he's still in a rowdy frat, Wanda the imperious supervisor, and the inscrutable, machinating grandmother, whom we never really meet, Lenore Beadsman the first), outrageous plot occurrences (Vlad the Impaler, the irritable Cockatiel who becomes Ugolino the Significant, a Christian News Channel Anchor), and best of all (from my point of view) a whole bunch of frequently incoherent fun. This book was almost as much fun to read as IJ, and it has more narrative unity so I think it's a bit easier to follow, but at the same time I thought the ending was even more abrupt, and more difficult to figure out how things are intended to end up.