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Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace

Infinite Jest (original 2014; edition 2006)

by David Foster Wallace

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
8,726162348 (4.28)9 / 810
Title:Infinite Jest
Authors:David Foster Wallace
Info:Back Bay Books (2006), Edition: 10 Anv, Paperback, 1104 pages
Collections:Your library, Favorites

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: A Novel 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 (158)  Italian (2)  Spanish (1)  French (1)  English (162)
Showing 1-5 of 158 (next | show all)
This is without a doubt the longest book I have ever read. I almost gave up a couple of times until it started coming together approximately 150 pages in. Then I was engrossed until the last 100 pages. At that point I just wanted things wrapped up, but it just sort of ended with everything unresolved.

I couldn't even begin to summarize the plot, but things I liked included the basic set-up with the US effectively having taken over Canada and Mexico and only the Quebec separatists really doing anything in the way of resistance, and also the renaming of calendar years after sponsor's products. I now know far more about addiction and AA than I ever really wanted to know. At times it was humorous (in a very dark way) and at times very sad and always very very clever. I am sure a lot of it went over my head. ( )
  pgchuis | Nov 26, 2016 |
couldn't finish. calling 'uncle' on this. but got as far as i'm getting. brilliant. but exhausting. ( )
  pixiegenne | Nov 11, 2016 |
Reading a book this complex and full of ideas in just two weeks is not an ideal basis for a review that adds anything to the wealth of opinion already available, so I'll get my apology out of the way and say that this is not a formal review, just a few personal impressions. Firstly on the challenges involved in reading it - it does require concentration and attention to detail, but at least for me I felt that attempting to look up everything I didn't fully understand would disrupt the flow too much, so my approach was a little impressionistic. I found it easier to follow than Ulysses, and about the same as Gravity's Rainbow.
I found it entertaining and infuriating and occasionally both - there are some brilliant comic set pieces, notably the eschaton game and its descent into violent anarchy, but there are also some passages that I found tedious and/or depressing, particularly the many horror stories about different forms of addiction. On the one hand Wallace has created a surprisingly consistent imaginary near future, but on the other he does seem to get details wrong from time to time, and his ideas of how technology would develop now seem a little quaint. Sometimes words get mangled deliberately to reflect the state of mind of a character, and the language is full of repeated leitmotif phrases (for example people don't die but they have their personal maps eliminated). Another repeated theme is fathers finding strange ways to die.
Overall I would say that I enjoyed it, it was an interesting and rewarding read, but I don't think it is quite as perfect as some of its advocates would have you believe, which is why I won't give it 5 stars. ( )
  bodachliath | Aug 10, 2016 |
Very complex, and can be a bit slow at times, but a fascinating plot and relatable characters/events ( )
  DPirog | Apr 14, 2016 |
07/07/09: Finished my second reading of IJ, in conjunction with www.infinitesummer.org.

February 2007:

From the book "Elegant Complexity: A Study of [b:David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest|6759|Infinite Jest A Novel|David Foster Wallace|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1165604485s/6759.jpg|3271542]," page 20: "In a 1996 radio interview, Wallace said that the structure of the unedited first draft of Infinite Jest was based on a fractal object called a Sierpinski Gasket, generated geometrically by an iterative process of cutting smaller triangle-sized holes out of larger triangles. In the first iteration, on large triangle becomes three smaller triangles and one smaller-triangle-sized hole. In the second iteration, the smaller-triangle-sized hole remains, and the three smaller triangles each become three even smaller triangles and one even-smaller-triangle-sized hole. In analogy to viewing a Sierpinski Gasket, readers of Infinite Jest construct narrative interpretations "as much out of what's missing as what's there."

A more elegant way to state the foregoing is to say that the Sierpinski Gasket is a triangle version of a "mise-en-abyme"; i.e., one of those pictures that contains another, tinier duplication of itself, which tiny duplication contains an even tinier duplication of the two foregoing, etc. unto infinity. You can view a Sierpinski Gasket here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sierpinski_triangle

Add my introduction to the fact that the novel is 1,076 pages (including its 349 footnotes), and you'd think the book was boring and egg-heady as hell. But it's not. It's frequently laugh-out-loud funny, highly interesting, and counts among its many eccentric and unique characters a massively-handicapped, homodontic (look it up, porpoise fans), green-skinned, forward-leaning boy named Mario Incandenza, who has the sweetest disposition in the whole world, and who serves (nobly) as the novel's warm, red, thrumming heart. I'm also quite fond of Hal, the novel's principal narrator, and Madame Psychosis (= metempsychosis), Joelle, the P.G.O.A.T. (Prettiest Girl of All Time).

"Infinite Jest" is about love and loss, the inability to love and lose, the mistaken love of drugs or sex or gambling or any other habit-forming substance or behavior that eventually leads you down a road where you lose everything that ever meant anything to you at all; "Infinite Jest" is about lost innocence, which counts among its casualties the inability to experience a cliche in its original, red-blooded iteration, which lost innocence if left unchecked can devolve into anomie and anhedonia and general all-around "lostness"; and, finally, "Infinite Jest" is about how a person, with the help of loved ones or even well-meaning friends or even one very special brother named Mario, about how a person can find himself again. That is to say, find himself in a way that means everything to him, the him inside, even if he can't express that to anyone else. Even if his attempts to express this sound like horrific, screeching nonsense to those strangers in the room with him, strangers who subdue him and call an ambulance and have him taken away to a mental hospital. Which is how "Infinite Jest" Chapter One begins.

"Infinite Jest" reminds me most of Vladimir Nabokov's "Pale Fire."
( )
  evamat72 | Mar 31, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 158 (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 (9 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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"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

Legacy Library: David Foster Wallace

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