Infinite Jest Paperback – Nov 13 2006
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In a sprawling, wild, super-hyped magnum opus, David Foster Wallace fulfills the promise of his precocious novel The Broom of the System. Equal parts philosophical quest and screwball comedy, Infinite Jest bends every rule of fiction, features a huge cast and multilevel narrative, and questions essential elements of American culture - our entertainments, our addictions, our relationships, our pleasures, our abilities to define ourselves. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
With its baroque subplots, zany political satire, morbid, cerebral humor and astonishing range of cultural references, Wallace's brilliant but somewhat bloated dirigible of a second novel (after The Broom in the System) will appeal to steadfast readers of Pynchon and Gaddis. But few others will have the stamina for it. Set in an absurd yet uncanny near-future, with a cast of hundreds and close to 400 footnotes, Wallace's story weaves between two surprisingly similar locales: Ennet House, a halfway-house in the Boston Suburbs, and the adjacent Enfield Tennis Academy. It is the "Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment" (each calendar year is now subsidized by retail advertising); the U.S. and Canada have been subsumed by the Organization of North American Nations, unleashing a torrent of anti-O.N.A.N.ist terrorism by Quebecois separatists; drug problems are widespread; the Northeastern continent is a giant toxic waste dump; and CD-like "entertainment cartridges" are the prevalent leisure activity. The novel hinges on the dysfunctional family of E.T.A.'s founder, optical-scientist-turned-cult-filmmaker Dr. James Incandenza (aka Himself), who took his life shortly after producing a mysterious film called Infinite Jest, which is supposedly so addictively entertaining as to bring about a total neural meltdown in its viewer. As Himself's estranged sons?professional football punter Orin, introverted tennis star Hal and deformed naif Mario?come to terms with his suicide and legacy, they and the residents of Ennet House become enmeshed in the machinations of the wheelchair-bound leader of a Quebecois separatist faction, who hopes to disseminate cartridges of Infinite Jest and thus shred the social fabric of O.N.A.N. With its hilarious riffs on themes like addiction, 12-step programs, technology and waste management (in all its scatological implications), this tome is highly engrossing?in small doses. Yet the nebulous, resolutionless ending serves to underscore Wallace's underlying failure to find a suitable novelistic shape for his ingenious and often outrageously funny material.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
The novel takes place in Enfield, Massachusetts in the near future. In the story, Canada, the United States, and Mexico formed a federation called the Organization of North American Nations (known as O.N.A.N.). The citizens of this confederation spend their time watching entertainment cartridges playable on their "teleputers," devices that came about when broadcast television went bankrupt.Read more ›
This book is huge. Sprawling. Epic. Etc. The characters stories are picked up, dropped off, picked back up (or not), never finished, wildly tangential, and inter-woven. I had heard that you needed to keep notes in order to keep everything straight in your head, but never felt I needed this. I did need to look up numerous words in the dictionary, however. Don't read this book thinking that you will have everything tied up in a nice little package at the end. Things do come together, they almost touch near the end, but not quite. If you focus so much on needing a sure ending then you will come away disappointed.
What surprised me about Infinite Jest is how sad and breathtakingly grotesque it can be. I have never read a book that made me feel so viscerally ill and uncomfortable before at parts. But there are also scenes that are hilarious, making me laugh out loud with the absurdity of the situation and the world that DFW has created. It really is a book that encompasses the entire wide swing of emotions that are available to humans and DFW manages to nail each of these emotions so well that you actually begin to feel them too as you're reading.
Dedicate a part of your life to reading this, as you will not be disappointed.
1. Keep a dictionary near-by. Yes, you ARE smart, but some words are....well you will see.
2. Thumb through the foot-notes (yes, foot-notes) BEFORE reading and write down the numbers of the indices that appear to be important; i.e. are of significant length, have diagrams, etc.. Certain important footnotes are indicated as such by the author in the novel itself. I discovered this helped me absorb most of the importance of the foot-notes without interrupting the flow of the book.
The novel was included by Time magazine in its list of the 100 best English-language novels published since 1923. By most accounts the book has sold approximately two hundred and fifty thousand copies. It continues to invite commentary and creative tributes. Jenni B. Baker, Editor of The Found Poetry Review, started a project in 2013 called Erasing Infinite that produces erasure poetry page by page from Infinite Jest. In 2009, a challenge was thrown out to people to read the novel over the summer. A blog was dedicated to this action that is still current with observations, insights and interpretations of Foster Wallace’s work. One can easily find numerous other essays, wikis, blogs, testimonials and homages (the author once made an appearance in animated form on The Simpsons).
Dave Eggers wrote the Foreward in the edition I waded through. He and authors such as Jonathan Franzen are said to have been influenced by Foster Wallace. Eggers honestly and beautifully introduces the original complexity that is Infinite Jest. It presents the debate that continues regarding fiction, namely, should it be easy to read and popular (think James Patterson) or “challenging, generally and thematically, and even on a sentence-by-sentence basis”.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
DFW's tome is a tremendous accomplishment and meditation on life in the fast lane.Published 4 months ago by midnitejohnny
Sad, that's all. It is an achievement that he sustained this exercise for as long as he did. But put up against a similar life-rant by Karl Ove Nausgaard, this book comes up so... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Amazon Customer
This lengthy (nearly 1000 pages) novel could have been pared down considerably but at it's best it is truly brilliant. Read morePublished 8 months ago by mixmaster
David was a complex person & much troubled, completely submerged in the intellectual battlefields of academia. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Wolfric
This book has made me wonder why I enjoy reading - this book apparently is regarded quite highly by a wide range of people, but I had to force myself to finish it. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Yikang