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Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace

Infinite Jest (original 2014; edition 2006)

by David Foster Wallace

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
9,741184436 (4.26)9 / 902
Title:Infinite Jest
Authors:David Foster Wallace
Info:Back Bay Books (2006), Edition: 10 Anv, Paperback, 1104 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace (2014)

  1. 90
    A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments by David Foster Wallace (pyrocow)
  2. 70
    Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon (AndySandwich)
    AndySandwich: Books that cause neuroses.
  3. 81
    Ulysses by James Joyce (browner56)
    browner56: You will either love them both or hate them both, but you will probably need a reader's guide to get through either one--I know I did.
  4. 60
    Skippy Dies by Paul Murray (owenkeegan)
    owenkeegan: Set at an Irish boarding school, this book shares a sense of humor with and has a narrative disjunction similar to Infinite Jest.
  5. 61
    Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace by David Lipsky (blahblah88)
    blahblah88: Get to know DFW.
  6. 30
    A Naked Singularity by Sergio De La Pava (DaveInSeattle)
  7. 42
    Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: It's all about what people do for entertainment, status, and sport. Along the way, the entire spectrum of society is satirized.
  8. 21
    The Man Without Qualities, Volume 1: A Sort of Introduction, and Pseudo Reality Prevails by Robert Musil (JuliaMaria)
    JuliaMaria: Die Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung meint, dass 'Unendlicher Spass' von Foster Wallace für den Beginn des einundzwanzigsten Jahrhunderts das sei, was Musils 'Mann ohne Eigenschaften' für das vergangene Jahrhundert war.
  9. 10
    The Instructions by Adam Levin (hairball)
    hairball: If you liked Infinite Jest, you will like The Instructions, but even if you didn't like IJ, you should try it.
  10. 10
    Martian Time-Slip by Philip K. Dick (ateolf)
  11. 00
    The Sellout by Paul Beatty (RidgewayGirl)
    RidgewayGirl: Books share a hectic, erudite wordplay and sense of the outrageous.
  12. 00
    The Candy Machine: How Cocaine Took Over the World by Tom Feiling (DLSmithies)
    DLSmithies: I know that Infinite Jest isn't "about drugs" - to reduce it to that would be insulting - but nevertheless, I read these books around the same time, and found they both have really interesting things to say about drugs and addiction in modern society - so if you liked IJ, Tome Felling's book might be worth a look.… (more)
  13. 00
    The Dissertation: A Novel (Norton paperback fiction) by R. M. Koster (EnriqueFreeque)
  14. 55
    Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (owenkeegan)
    owenkeegan: David Foster Wallace based the structure of Infinite Jest on a fractal. Cloud Atlas similarly transitions from one story to the next as though zooming in on a corner of one world to reveal a whole new universe, related but unique.
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English (179)  Italian (2)  Spanish (1)  French (1)  German (1)  All languages (184)
Showing 1-5 of 179 (next | show all)
Consuming, chaotic, pathologically sincere, profound, unflinching, difficult -- but very rewarding. Probably, in all seriousness -- as much as it pains me to add to the already-nauseating amounts of hyperbole surrounding this book -- probably a work of actual genius. Despite all of that... and despite the inscrutable narrative structure, interminable footnotes and digressions, astonishingly expansive vocabulary, and mindnumbing amounts of incidental detail... it's also, somehow, just endlessly entertaining.

It's hard to say anything about the experience of reading this novel that hasn't been said before, and better. I spent six weeks reading it (and nothing else), and two more weeks pondering it, reading blog posts by armchair IJ scholars, and skimming back through the text to try to put all the pieces together.

In the end I can say it was not only a worthwhile journey, but that it left my perspective on the world irrevocably changed.

I wish you way more than luck. ( )
  wirehead | Sep 3, 2018 |
Wow. Infinite Jest could equally have been called Beautiful Disaster. I will not even rate this book. It’s unrateable. There are so many different measures upon which it could be rated that it deserves its own category. The book runs off in too many directions and but has so many brilliant aspects to it. And but yet Wallace’s disinterest in being “entertaining” or, (who can say?) his inability to actually take this story to a satisfactory conclusion leaves the book as a whole distressing and chaotic. Life is chaotic, one can say. Life has no ending (well…it might…it will eventually…). Life makes no clear sense. Sure. But do I want to read life? I live life; I want to read about life. Do I want incompleteness as a theme when we all feel it in our daily lives? Do I want to bump into a new character near the end of a 1000 page book that only gets one scene? Incompleteness is anxiety and the incompleteness of Infinite Jest, the hanging comma of so many storylines—as a “Jest” on the reader—is a rather cruel one. Perhaps it’s deserved. Most of us certainly are stuck in our mundane ways while civilization crumbles. Global warming assaults the planet. Our repulsive President endorses hatred, racism and dehumanization of non-Americans and immigrants and tears children from their parents. Remember Gordon Gecko? Greed is Good. Today he could equally say racism is good. Let them hate each other while the rich pillage the world. But I digress. As does David Foster Wallace. The ending was another cruelty. Just brutal. Brutal brutal brutal. Horrible emotional and physical cruelty is where the story ends. So there, the jest is on the reader. Jokes on you! Fine, we don’t get anything satisfying because that’s life. But then, you also get a book that leaves one unsatisfied. AND NOT LIKING IT. IS THAT WHAT YOU WANT DAVID FOSTER WALLACE? He was conflicted. Or perhaps just incapable. Because there is also much to enjoy in Infinite Jest. There, I said it. There are many entertaining aspects to it! Oh the irony! There are several scenes in the book that are just laugh-out-loud hilarious. Epic set pieces. Written like theater, one can just see the utter absurdity of these moments that Wallace sets up. Like human versions of Rube Goldberg machines or the gun fight with the baby carriage rolling down the stairs in The Untouchables. There are many clashes in style throughout. The book is at war with itself. Jesting itself. Jousting itself. The characters are realistic. They are unrealistic. They are believable, unbelievable. Which brings me to another point…can you guess what Wallace’s favorite phrase in the entire book is? I’ll tell you. “And but” (and but did you notice that I worked it into my sixth and seventh sentences?) He also threw in a lot of “And yet(s)” and “But yet(s)” but overall “And but” was the most used phrase repeated ad nauseum. Like a verbal tic. Did he know this? Probably, one can perhaps hypothesize it was intentional. But either way, it embodied the schizophrenic nature of the book. Entertaining/not entertaining, absurd/realistic, intertwining plot lines/dead ends, narrator/no-narrator, life/death, comedy/tragedy, text/footnotes, novel/rambling inner monologue. Life is a contradiction, meaningful and meaningless. And but. As far as subjects of the book go, addiction and loneliness are the two central topics, and their teleological trajectory toward suicide. What a painful (yet actually worthwhile) dive into the nature of addiction. The deeper irony of course humming in the background of all those scenes about drug addiction, suicide and depression is knowing how Wallace ended and feeling like it was a horribly painful window into his mind. This was one of the great and tragic aspects of this book that counteracts many of the negative qualities. He bared his soul here, if you will, given his atheism; he shared his own contradictions. And like Ian Curtis, he meant it. Chilling. As my final note on this text, I will say another disappointing aspect to the book was Wallace’s treatment of non-white characters. The casual racism of many of the white character coupled with the stereotypical black and Asian characters…left a degree of dissatisfaction that can’t be explained away thematically but rather stand for a blind-spot Wallace clearly could not address and thus ends my Infinite Run-on Review. Good day to you.
1 vote David_David_Katzman | Jun 26, 2018 |
I cannot presume anything can be added to what has been said about this book; having arrived for whatever reason at the proverbial and precarious "cult" status, it enters a phase of self-oscillation, shaking off both friends and foes and all you see is people flying like drops around a wet dog, shouting words of adoration and derogatory spells. This is the price of trying to submit a rating, so (despite my ostentatious five stars above) I will only say that buried inside layers of the hilarity that has been mentioned so often (usually to distract those who are afraid of volume) and the tragedy that certainly has not been overlooked, between and inside the hilarity and the tragedy, I say, there is a sense of unmitigated, unmediated existential dread, as profound and relentless as anything I have ever read, the sheer pain of alertness and exposedness to what we tragically call reality.

The only book that made me experience this to a comparable degree was "The Bell Jar". It is certainly no coincidence that both authors took their own life. I am not aware of the comparison but I surely hope they do or will appear alongside each other somewhere. ( )
  alik-fuchs | Apr 27, 2018 |
Reviews/thoughts better than what my brain could come up with when trying to communicate my thoughts on this book:



One of those books that people start reading as a resolution, either New Year's or a cute/hip book group or "before I'm 30" or what have you. Unlike other classics, I don't think it has ever stopped or will ever stop being a Resolution Book. Isn't that terrible? At over 1500 pages it's practically nauseating. Why on earth would someone do that to themselves if you actually loved words and what they can do? Like, whenever I see people talk about this book on the internet I get this voice in my head that goes, "One of us! One of us!" And the one person IRL I knew who was reading it made sure he was reading it in coffee shops OMG I think I threw up a little. But. I believe this is the purpose. One of the jokes! Like Finnegan's Wake. I think he is fucking with you. He hates people who read to have read and is visiting vengeance upon you by situating this book as a long difficult read that one must conquer to become a Serious Reader. Now if you actually do love it he probably loves you back, BFF4EVER, but if you are faking, haha he made you read hundreds of pages for no good reason (hipster cred is not a good reason). In any case, I myself stopped reading because we do not have the same sense of humor, at all, nothing was funny, and despite my stomach for gore I wilt and tremble when confronted with unrelenting self-shame and sadness. Why do deep people like sad shit so much? I get finding beauty in impermanence and imperfection, but that's not sad. Eh, whatever.
  Joanna.Oyzon | Apr 17, 2018 |
Bizarre book which I can best describe as leaving me feeling the way I did after I watched Fellini's film - as if I just could get a little more information, I would finally know what was going on. ( )
  leslie.98 | Apr 9, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 179 (next | show all)
[I]t is, in a word, terrible. Other words I might use include bloated, boring, gratuitous, and – perhaps especially – uncontrolled. I would, in fact, go so far as to say that Infinite Jest is one of the very few novels for which the phrase ‘not worth the paper it’s written on’ has real meaning in at least an ecological sense [...] I resent the five weeks of my life I gave over to it; I resent every endlessly over-elaborated gag in the book.
If Mr. Wallace were less talented, you would be inclined to shoot him -- or possibly yourself -- somewhere right around page 480 of ''Infinite Jest.'' In fact, you might anyway. Alternately tedious and effulgent [...] What makes all this almost plausible, and often pleasurable, is Mr. Wallace's talent -- as a stylist, a satirist and a mimic -- as well as his erudition, which ranges from the world of street crime to higher mathematics. While there are many uninteresting pages in this novel, there are not many uninteresting sentences.
"Somewhere in the mess, the reader suspects, are the outlines of a splendid novel, but as it stands the book feels like one of those unfinished Michelangelo sculptures: you can see a godly creature trying to fight its way out of the marble, but it's stuck there, half excavated, unable to break completely free."

» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Wallace, David Fosterprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Blumenbach, UlrichTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Covián, MarceloTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Eggers, DaveForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Giua, GraziaContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nesi, EdoardoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Villoresi, AnnalisaContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I am seated in an office, surrounded by heads and bodies.
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"Molly Notkin often confides on the phone to Joelle van Dyne about the one tormented love of Notkin's life thus far, an erotically circumscribed G.W. Pabst scholar at New York University tortured by the neurotic conviction that there are only a finite number of erections possible in the world at any one time and that his tumescence means e.g. the detumescence of some perhaps more deserving or tortured Third World sorghum farmer or something, so that whenever he tumefies he 'll suffer the same order of guilt that your less eccentrically tortured Ph.D.-type person will suffer at the idea of, say, wearing baby seal-fur."
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0316066524, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:03 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

A spoof on our culture featuring a drug-and-alcohol rehabilitation house near Boston. The center becomes a hotbed of revolutionary activity by Quebec separatists in revolt against the Organization of North American Nations which now rules the continent.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

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Average: (4.26)
0.5 13
1 44
1.5 7
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2.5 13
3 124
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