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Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace

Infinite Jest (original 1996; edition 2006)

by David Foster Wallace

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
8,225159381 (4.29)9 / 773
Title:Infinite Jest
Authors:David Foster Wallace
Info:Back Bay Books (2006), Edition: 10 Anv, Paperback, 1104 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:@wishlist: to read

Work details

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace (1996)

  1. 80
    A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again 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. 54
    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.
  10. 10
    Martian time-slip by Philip K. Dick (ateolf)
  11. 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.
  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. 68
    House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski (Torikton)
    Torikton: Danielewski and Wallace both satirize academic writing by playing with footnotes.

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English (155)  Italian (2)  Spanish (1)  French (1)  All languages (159)
Showing 1-5 of 155 (next | show all)
read the whole thing, footnotes and all ( )
  jimifenway | Feb 2, 2016 |
Got through about a quarter of this (very long) book and gave up. Perhaps there is some brilliance later on, but the beginning was a disconnected, bewildering, and rather boring mess. You don't care or really understand any of the characters; there is no plot to speak of; the book jumps all over the place; year of the depends adult undergarment is not funny; the writing style is dense; tossing in the word "like" into everyone's speech/thoughts does not a witty dialogue make. ( )
  brikis98 | Nov 11, 2015 |
I first encountered Infinite Jest way back whenever it came out in Ireland in paperback, at the back of Hodges Figgis in Dublin. I'd never heard of it or of David Foster Wallace, but I was fascinated by the sheer size of it. I was at the time not averse to vast tomes of science fiction or fantasy, anything so long as they were entertaining. This did not look entertaining. It had a tiny little blurb that seemed to sum up a plot that should have been very attractive to me, but I knew just looking at it that this book was not about plot. This book was dense, complex, and had footnotes that looked scary. I was more used to Terry Pratchett's footnotes, which were hilarious. Worse still, erudite-looking blurbs from elevated literary critics writing impossibly academic reviews for highly respected broadsheet newspapers with horribly serious review sections were calling it funny. A comedy. That was it. That was pretty much the kiss of This Isn't For Me.

But I was sad about it. I wanted to know what it was about. I wanted to know how a book with a plot about a search for a deadly film - a plot straight out of Ramsey Campbell and Jonathan Carroll, to name but two - could possibly fill a book this big, and how a book this big and serious could possibly be about THAT. This book was a mystery to me, and normally I liked books with Mystery. After all, it was the sense of magical Mystery that made me fall in love with lord Of The Rings. But I sensed that this was not that sort of Mystery. This was the Mystery of Life in the Real World, and I was pretty sure I wasn't ready for that.

Well, now I've read it. I was right! The book is Mystery. It is dense with stuff, thick with language and character and situations and institutions and interfacings and interactions. It plumbs the depths of stark naked honesty and the horror of hitting bottom and the repetitive banality of just non-stop talking about it via the world of AA and NA. It scales the privileged heights of irony and secrets and silence and entrapment in the highly regimented world of the Tennis Academy. And while those two things take up the bulk of the book, the sheer concentrated accumulation of details about lives and worlds and families and routines and rituals and addictions, there ticks over the satiric science-fiction world-building and the plot by the initially comic-seeming but ultimately revolting wheelchair assassins and their plot to free Quebec from union with America by finding and unleashing the lethal entertainment.

Yeah, wheelchair assassins. Guys with no legs. Then there's the woman in the veil, the brother with pronounced physical disabilities, the overmuscled arms and legs of the athletes, the tattoos and other disfigurements of the addicts. This is a book full of mutilation and woundings and disabilities and deformities. The psychic scarring of the characters should be beyond description, but Wallace goes ahead and describes them anyway.

And yet it is a brilliant book. Incredibly readable and often wonderful. Heartfelt, moving, but also sordid and horrifying. An epic of dependency and prepackaged entertainment. I kept waiting for the plot to kick in properly, and sometimes it did, but the end and the beginning - the first part of the book opens a year after the main events of the book unfold - do not join except in the most suggestive and ambiguous way. This should have been annoying and frustrating, but it wasn't. I felt he could have gone on for another thousand pages and gotten no closer to a conventionally satisfying resolution. Wallace gives us everything we need to know. No amount of light or detail or plot would reveal more of the Mystery. Whatever's left, we have to puzzle out for ourselves. ( )
  Nigel_Quinlan | Oct 21, 2015 |
It's hard to sum up Infinite Jest: the book passes through so many modes of writing, brings you to so many places, that it seems contrary to boil it down to an essence. A simple explanation would be that the book is about empathy and identification, about recognizing the same consciousness and foils in everyone from tennis prodigies to AA attendees. But one of the lessons of the book is that trite maxims often aren't, that you have to experience a piece of wisdom firsthand to see the truth in them.

So it is with Infinite Jest, a book that starts out orbiting a wide variety of individuals, who slowly converge until they finally meet somewhere just beyond the novel's horizon. While it starts out covering Enfield Tennis Academy, the residents of Ennet House quickly colonize and then take over the novel. Their process of coming to terms with their addiction and coping with resurgent memories of their childhood is some of the most powerful writing you will ever read, and they drive the book through the middle portion—often more captivating than the ostensible "plot" driving the novel. And then towards the end, an event causes everything to collapse onto one character, and his perspective is amazing to behold. ( )
  gregorybrown | Oct 18, 2015 |
An amazingly well-written book, but I feel like I need to read it again to really understand it. I don't know if that will give me any more closure with it though. ( )
  DeftMunky | Oct 7, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 155 (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 (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Wallace, David Fosterprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Blumenbach, UlrichÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Eggers, DaveForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Giua, GraziaContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nesi, EdoardoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Villoresi, AnnalisaContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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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