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Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace

Infinite Jest (original 2014; edition 2006)

by David Foster Wallace

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9,026168332 (4.27)9 / 853
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 (2014)

  1. 80
    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. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 10
    Martian Time-Slip by Philip K. Dick (ateolf)
  12. 00
    The Sellout by Paul Beatty (RidgewayGirl)
    RidgewayGirl: Books share a hectic, erudite wordplay and sense of the outrageous.
  13. 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)
  14. 00
    The Dissertation: A Novel (Norton paperback fiction) by R. M. Koster (EnriqueFreeque)
  15. 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 (164)  Italian (2)  Spanish (1)  French (1)  All (168)
Showing 1-5 of 164 (next | show all)
How do you even start to write a review of this book. Infinite Jest covers so much territory. Some one describes it as a ball of many colored strings of yarn that are tangled together but not with any obvious connections. First the book starts with Hal and his family and takes place at a Tennis School in Boston. Then there is the story of addicts. Then there is the story of the Canadian WC assasins and another story line of politicians and environmental disasters on the border of Canada and the east coast. And sad to say, I didn't think any of these story lines really ended when the book ended. Great writing, structure, relevance, themes, but for me, not that readable as it took be many months to finish. ( )
  Kristelh | Jul 11, 2017 |
So this book is long. Really really long. According the Internets it is 543,709 words long. On top of that, the words aren't put together in a way that is easy to read... it gets easier as you go along, but I could still only manage a few pages a day before I had to put the book down so my brain could digest what it just read. The 388 foot notes, across 96 pages doesn't help much either. I started this book in January, and just finished it beginning of July.

So what is the book about - well, I think thats up to the reader. it meanders along, following its own path through a halfway house, Tennis Academy and Phoenix, Arizona. Maybe its about growing up. Or possibly the roll of media in American culture. Or maybe its the new Nostradamus, predicting the future one overly long sentence at a time.

The writing is always interesting, although words go on and on and on across pages, only stopping to create a new paragraph when it is out of breath. Its darkly funny. The chapter devoted to Eschaton was one of the most visual writing I have experienced... I could almost feel the wet snow hitting my face. The main characters all have a feel of absurdity about them... Gately and his meatloaf. Hal who mostly just exists, Mario, the brother who is both lesser, and more than his his siblings... This book is also hilarious - its set in the near future (of 1996) and the allusions to the history, from phones with cameras on them and the lengths people went to make themselves look better to the person on the other line, to the Quebec Wheel Chair Assassins in search of a cartridge so entertaining, that a viewer can't stop but watch. Its dark comedy at it best.

So... should you read it.... maybe. This is a book that is frustratingly difficult to read. Add in the subject matter and the lack of a solid plot (exactly what is this book about?) and I can see someone throwing it across the room because it never comes to the point. Between the pointlessness of Hal's life, to overcoming addiction, it has a quality of realness that I've never really read before and like real life, there isn't an end point where everything ties together. ( )
  TheDivineOomba | Jul 8, 2017 |
This must be my year for monster books. This one is a doozy. I should have stopped reading at many points in this, but I'm stubborn, despite it putting me "behind schedule" in my reading challenge.

I'm sure some blind fan will cry that I just don't get it. But really, what's to get? He gave it away in the title: it's "infinite" in tedium and the "jest" was the joke on the reader. But snarkiness aside, a novel of this bulk should have something of value to redeem the interminable blather. Wallace said he had to insert end notes because he "needed some way to disrupt the linearity of the text short of making it unreadable,..." Linearity? I do not think that word means what he think it means. Unreadable? I know that word means what I think it means.

So, how does one summarize 1000 pages? Wallace's prose has been called "inventive". I suppose that's one way of describing it. The nonsensical fake language skits from the Drew Carey incarnation of Whose Line Is It Anyway? show are inventive (now that is a jest...they weren't). This, not so much.

I chuckled when Wallace called Elizabeth Harper Neeld's Seven Choices: Taking the Steps to a New Life After Losing Someone You Love "352 pages of goo". Curious...was the irony intentional?

I thought Robert Anton Wilson wrote some bad stuff. Wallace may have bottomed him. I am amazed at all the reviews calling him a genius. I've seen critical examinations of other unreadable works characterized as genius...seeming to me that the critics give up and equate insanity with brilliance (admittedly, there is often a fine line). I'm not sure that a detailed knowledge of medical jargon qualifies as genius or brilliance...or a simply a good memory. Nor do I find the use of obscure, though technically correct, words to be a sign of either. Those arcane words have a purpose to concisely convey more information than normal. Use of such vocabulary is often meant to imply intelligence, but the inability to communicate effectively reveals the lack of intelligence of knowing when to use those words. Or when to not use them. Wallace undermines the precision by surrounding them with infinite prattle.

Okay, okay, it's clear he was quite intelligent, and there were a number of passages that hinted at brilliance. I suppose given its length, there would have to be by simple probability. But overall, this monstrosity was a mass of ... I'll be generous and just say nonsense. Perhaps intelligently conceived nonsense, but this emperor has no clothes. As I was slogging though this, I found a book that purported to explain it - a book that at 512 pages was nearly half the length of this one. Really? If the apologetic writes almost as much...

As to the controversial abrupt non-ending...well DFW said that "[c]ertain kind of parallel lines are supposed to start converging in such a way that an 'end' can be projected by the reader somewhere beyond the right frame. If no such convergence or projection occurred to you, then the book's failed for you."

This book failed for me. I don't know how it couldn't fail for anybody who has a life. And I certainly am at a loss to understand those who said they immediately wanted to read it again.

I bump the one star it I should give it to two because I'm sure he thought he had a plan when he wrote it and that has to be worth something. Time to take a shower and wash the ick off. ( )
  Razinha | May 23, 2017 |
I have read every page of [Infinite Jest] but I can make no claim to have 'read' [Infinite Jest]. I read the last page and immediately reread the first 30 or so pages...... one could easily simply reread the whole book at that point and then again and again..... I wouldn't know where to begin commenting on IJ, so I'm not going to waste your or my time. I can summarize and muse over smaller pieces of it which I have done over on a thread in Infinite Jesters, but that's it. It's not a book for the faint-of-heart. I won't recommend it in any casual way, but if you are an adventurous reader in the Joycean, Melville, Pynchon etctera vein, then you've probably already read it and I don't need to recommend it! ***** ( )
  sibyx | Mar 4, 2017 |
DFW obviously had a blast writing this. It's full of digressions, trivia, footnotes (lots!). He's determined to make the reader engage with the book - no linear plotline to sail along on. It's a bustling, smart, scabulous (meaning, "the human mind's capacity to keep scrummaging around seeking knowledge, new input, new ideas and sensations to keep it occupied and from getting bored" - The Urban Dictionary), vulgar, and really funny book.

The two main locales are a tennis academy, owned by the main character's parents and where he is training, and a mental hospital. One driving mechanism in the novel is a hard-to-find amateur movie that is so entrancing it is fatally addictive to anyone who views it. Some Quebec-ian (!) terrorists want to get their hands on the film, to help them disrupt, I'm pretty sure, attempts by the U.S. to foist a polluted New England on Canada.

A lot of the story involves addictions of various sorts, and way more drug use and drug info than I needed, but I imagine there are some readers who eat it up. There's also a lot about parent-child relations, and our main character, Hal Incandenza, struggles to deal with the death of his father - who was the director of the fatally addictive movie and many others.

The writing energy and unique creativity and the challenges for the reader in Infinite Jest all made me think of Joyce and Ulysses. You're going to want to bring your "A" game as a reader to this one.

There are more brilliant lines in the book than you can shake a stick at. Here are some:

"I do things like get in a taxi and say, "The library, and step on it.”

* * * *

"You will become way less concerned with what other people think of you when you realize how seldom they do."

* * * *

"Mario, what do you get when you cross an insomniac, an unwilling agnostic and a dyslexic?"

"I give."

"You get someone who stays up all night torturing himself mentally over the question of whether or not there's a dog.”

* * * *

"God seems to have a kind of laid-back management style I’m not crazy about.”

* * * *

One of my favorite lines was one character describing an obsessive jerk as "a turd-counter".

I'm sure there are readers who repeatedly pour over this novel, looking for new connections and deriving new meaning. There are allusions to Hamlet, including the title - "Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio: a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy: he hath borne me on his back a thousand times; and now, how abhorred in my imagination it is!"; allusions to the Odyssey, and allusions to others, I'm sure. I'm glad I read it. It's been on a number of "Best Novels Ever" lists and, as Mark says, how can we possibly give it less than 5 stars? ( )
1 vote jnwelch | Feb 24, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 164 (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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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

Legacy Library: David Foster Wallace

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