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Infinite Jest (2014)

by David Foster Wallace

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
11,480222440 (4.25)9 / 976
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.
  1. 90
    A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments by David Foster Wallace (pyrocow)
  2. 80
    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. 50
    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 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: A Sort of Introduction; Pseudo Reality Prevails {Vol. 1 of 2} 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. 65
    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.
  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 Dissertation: A Novel (Norton paperback fiction) by R. M. Koster (absurdeist)
  14. 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)
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English (217)  Italian (2)  Spanish (1)  French (1)  German (1)  All languages (222)
Showing 1-5 of 217 (next | show all)
To be honest, the sheer size of this book was daunting even before I cracked it open. Add to its heft four complicated subplots, over 380 footnotes, corporate sponsorships, and a futuristic timeline and I waved the white flag. I didn't feel bad about my decision after I came across a YouTube video of Bill Gates explaining why he couldn't be bothered either. the one element of Infinite Jest I thought I was missing out on was all of the references to Shakespeare's Hamlet. I think I would have enjoyed teasing out those details.
Plot One concerns a group of radicals from Quebec who plan a violent geopolitical coup.
Plot Two centers on a group of students in Boston all suffering or coping with substance addiction.
Plot three takes place at a tennis Academy in Connecticut.
Fourth plot is the history of the Incandenza family. All plots are connected by the movie "Infinite Jest" by James Incandenza, but are not in chronological order. ( )
  SeriousGrace | Jul 25, 2021 |
"Alas, poor Pemulis. I knew him Mario. He was a lad of infinite jest and most excellent substances."

"Hey Hal? Why did our father kill himself?"

'Hmm."

"Oh what fools these mortals be?"

"That's right buddy. Whether 'tis nobler to suffer the slings and arrows."

"Was he sad Hal?"

"He was trying to get my attention Mario"

"Hey Hal? I had a dream that you wanted to kill yourself, too."

"We are such stuff."

"Hey Hal? You know what mom said?"

"Time to get some sleep, buddy."

"She said 'and all our yesterdays have lighted fools
the way to dusty death'."

"I know buddy, I know."

"Hey Hal?"

"The rest is silence Mario. The rest is silence."


( )
  mortalfool | Jul 10, 2021 |
The best way to describe the book is a dense post-modern surrealist novel that is often not surrealist at all. It focuses on strong themes of depression, drug addiction and recovery, fall and redemption, tennis, Quebecqois separatism, terrorism, adolescence, suicide, LARPing, film theory, philosophy, and other fun topics all set to a tone that is best envisioned, bizarrely enough, fully animated. The world is science fiction the same way Vonnegut’s worlds are science fiction: it is a vague near future where even the years have a corporate sponsor, everyone is wired into their ‘entertainments’ and New England has been turned into an enormous toxic waste dump for electoral reasons. The future is full of American’s inalienable rights to consume and consume until they cannot consume any more, pleasure and fulfillment, and the Infinite Jest being the ultimate pleasure, a movie so pleasurable after watching it once, a victim will kill to watch it again and again and again. Now if only someone could weaponize infinite pleasure in the form of a DVD…

The story follows two separate storylines — one at an Elite Tennis Academy high school and one at a drug and alcohol addiction recovery halfway house down the hill. The cast of characters feels vast at first and impossible to track with their special ticks and personalities but this turns out to not be an insurmountable task. Both the Ennet Recovery House and the Enfield Tennis Academy are populated with dozens of characters, each with their own special personalities that manage to come through on the page. Some characters show up and hang around for a scene and wander out again. Some are given full and rich backgrounds until they, too, drift away. But through it the two main threads of story never quite touch except in one paragraph possibly in a flash-forward early in the book — although several characters from the two threads often cross.

Like Catch-22, Infinite Jest is not in chronological order. The story jumps around showing a future scene and then flashes back to show the full runup to that scene. (Arguably, the entire book is a run-up to the first, opening scene.) Sometimes a chunk of essential narrative is told in a long footnote. This is where the ‘challenge’ comes in — sometimes it is difficult to tell where in the cut-up machine of Infinite Jest a certain scene fits. The narrative jumps around point of view from character to character. One long stretch is told entirely in script-form with puppets. Another is the story of a particularly strange LARP played with tennis rackets and giant maps. The book is not difficult to read, not in the way a dense text from Victorian England can be difficult to physically read. The text itself is quite easy and quick to read. The book itself is structurally challenging. This is not a band thing.

Infinite Jest is highly referential in places — Dostoevsky, Melville, Shakespeare, Joyce. The Enfield Tennis Acadamy is full of Hamlet references in the last half of the book. Even the Ghost of the Father! The skull! Gravediggers! The Queen and Polonius! The final scene as Hamlet goes off and Horatio is left behind. Read or refresh Hamlet before picking up Infinite Jest. Most of the play is embedded in the book.

My favorite part of the book was the last 150 or so pages of Don Gately, the main character of the Recovery House arc, laid in a hospital bed hallucinating his life and the Ghost and the truths to complete his Redemption cycle. It is probably DFW’s very best writing and it is deeply compelling writing.

I want to recommend this book. Obviously I enjoyed it. I read the whole book and the required footnotes. The formal requirement is you must like strange, unconventional, and weird literary books that do not conform to the basic novel form. I would say — start with the essay above, and then the other essays, and then the short stories, and kind of eeeease into it. It’s a very cool book but it is extremely mind-bendy and challenging. ( )
  multiplexer | Jun 20, 2021 |
  chrisvia | Apr 29, 2021 |
"Infinite Jest" (lo scherzo infinito) non è affatto uno scherzo. Non può (ne deve) essere divorato, ma preso a piccoli morsi, con diverse pause di riflessione per essere apprezzato. Attualmente mi trovo in una di queste pause, ma volevo comunque scrivere qualcosa per fare il punto della situazione.
12,06,2010. The story so far.
Che cosa ho trovato in questo libro? Bella domanda, vi posso dire che cosa non ho trovato, però. Prima di tutto non ho trovato le unità aristoteliche di luogo e di tempo. Questo libro è assolutamente non lineare, quindi toglietevi dalla testa la speranza di avere una storia che si dispiega davanti ai vostri occhi in maniera fluida.. anzi, è difficile persino poter spiegare la trama a qualcun'altro. Questo potrebbe far allontanare molti lettori, ma in realtà non è un difetto, perché raccontare una storia non è la priorità di questo libro. Un romanzo di questa mole e di questa complessità ha un altro scopo, mostrarti la vita per quello che è: un fluire incessante senza un chiaro senso, un dibattersi in mezzo al mare senza sapersi orientare.
Un libro mondo, ma anche un libro labirinto quindi, in cui perdersi non è un accidente, ma la regola... vedremo quant'è profonda la tana del Bianconiglio non appena avrò metabolizzato ciò che ho letto fino ad ora.
( )
  JoeProtagoras | Jan 28, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 217 (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
Pratt, SeanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Valkonen, TeroTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Villoresi, AnnalisaContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For F.P. Foster: R.I.P.
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I am seated in an office, surrounded by heads and bodies.
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"...'Acceptance' is usually more a matter of fatigue than anything else."

"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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Wikipedia in English (1)

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.

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Hachette Book Group

2 editions of this book were published by Hachette Book Group.

Editions: 0316066524, 0316920045

 

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