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Infinite Jest Paperback – 5 Jun 1997

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Product details

  • Paperback: 1104 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus (5 Jun. 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349121087
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349121086
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 5.3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (125 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 8,526 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

David Foster Wallace wrote the acclaimed novels Infinite Jest and The Broom of the System and the story collections Oblivion, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, and Girl With Curious Hair. His nonfiction includes the essay collections Consider the Lobster and A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, and the full-length work Everything and More. He died in 2008.

Product Description


A writer of virtuostic talents who can seemingly do anything (NEW YORK TIMES)

Wallace is a superb comedian of culture . . . his exuberance and intellectual impishness are a delight (James Woods, GUARDIAN)

He induces the kind of laughter which, when read in bed with a sleeping partner, wakes said sleeping partner up . . . He's damn good (Nicholas Lezard, GUARDIAN)

One of the best books about addiction and recovery to appear in recent memory. (SUNDAY TIMES)

Book Description

* 'Ambitious, accomplished, deeply humorous, brilliant and witty and moving. A literary sensation' INDEPENDENT

* With a new foreword by Dave Eggers

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I am seated in an office, surrounded by heads and bodies. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

117 of 121 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 26 May 1999
Format: Paperback
The proverbial Book-That-All-The-Fuss-Is-About in America, Infinite Jest hasn't made a big splash in England for some reason. Set in the near-future, the story zips back and forth between a dope-addicted teenage lexical genius in a Tennis academy in the suburbs of Boston, a recovering demerol addict at a half-way house down the road, a gang of murderous Quebec separatist terrorists in wheel chairs, and a film that is so addictively entertaining that once you've been exposed to it you lose all will to do anything else in life except watch it again and again until you die. You also get the experialist evil of ONANism (referring here to the Organization of North American Nations), the death of the TV industry at the hand of tongue-scraper ads, giant feral rats in New England, hyper-obsequious mothers, filmakers killing themselves by putting their heads in a microwave and a girl so devastatingly beautiful she's forced to wear a veil at all times. What's not to like?
But never fear: beneath all the whimsical plot-digressions and flippant deployment of words you don't understand, DFW has a big heart, and IJ never degenerates into the standard I'm-so-postmodern-I-can-just-sneer-and-not-care posture that makes so much contemporary prose detestable.
If the book has a theme, it's the broad sense...not just to various drugs but also to entertainment, to sport, to sex, to nationalism. The neat thing is that the book itself is addictive...although it's not a plot-driven page turner in any traditional sense, once you get into it it's hard to put down.
You should know the book is very very long, has 200+ pages worth of bizarre footnotes, 3 dozen subplots, and a whole lot of generally fascinating characters. The pace can be sloooooooow, but you won't mind.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Twig on 24 Mar. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this because a couple of people who had reviewed John Jeremiah Sullivan's excellent collection of articles, Pulphead, also liked Infinite Jest. It arrived, and I discovered I'd ordered a brick rather than a book. Bit daunting I thought. 1000+ pages, footnotes,tiny point size. I left it on the shelf for a couple of months. Like I say, daunted. Then I picked it up. By page 13 I was hooked.

That was four months ago. I finished it yesterday and, having been immersed in the skewed but horribly recognisable world of David Foster Wallace for so long, I feel bereft.

It's one of those novels that is part of a long tradition of fiction that includes Sterne's Tristram Shandy, Swift's Gulliver's Travels, then travelled down the centuries to include Joyce's Ullyses, Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow... If you're looking for a beginning, a middle and an end, you won't find it here.

What you will find is one of the most explosively imaginative novels ever written. It's funny. Political. Satirical. Years are sponsored by big business. The President is a schmaltzy crooner. The US has taken over vast areas of Mexico and Canada to form the Organization of North American Nations. ONAN. Haha! It's prescient. Waste dumping has lead to swathes of the local population being born with no skulls and multi-eyed. It's wise. '... you do not have to like a person in order to learn from him/her/it.' '... logical validity is not a guarantee of truth.' 'Everybody is identical in their secret unspoken belief that way deep down they are different from everyone else.' And on and on and on. I kept stopping to go over things I'd read. Musings. Throwaway ideas. And the descriptions, always so singular; always just right. 'His heart sounded like a shoe in the Ennet House basement's dryer.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By GRBD on 12 Sept. 2006
Format: Paperback
Cor! I would like to tell you that this book is all the things that these other reviewers say it is - amazing, brilliant, flabergasting etc. Well, it is. However, after pushing through David Foster Wallace's interminable digressions and massively complex clauses, sub clauses, sub sub clauses etc, the brilliance could be said to have been dulled somewhat. Nevertheless, It's still a top-notch piece of boundary-pushing fiction, a brain-pulsingly engaging read, and a mad piece of food for thought. It would've got five stars if I could have persuaded any of my friends to read it too. Those slackers!

Read it. It'll do your brain good.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Callum Locke on 5 Oct. 2014
Format: Paperback
I bought this for the Kindle, then found that the book relies on footnotes. Don't get it on Kindle.

So I ordered a paperback version (white cover with red and blue text). Annoyingly this one is even worse. The footnotes are collected into a 100-page appendix (at the end of the 3-inch-thick book). This makes it virtually unreadable. And it's not like you can read all the footnotes together when you reach the end of the book; they won't make sense. This is really, really bad publishing.

I'm now waiting for a good edition from another supplier, with footnotes at the, you know, the foot of the page.
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34 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Marie on 20 May 2012
Format: Paperback
I'm sorry to say I abandoned this part-way through. Don't be mad at me! I feel like I've given it a pretty good shot. I've stuck with it through almost 600 pages, through sickness and health, over approximately 4 months. I've neglected some of my very favourite handbags because this hefty tome just won't fit inside. It almost pains me to give up after investing so much time in it, but the fact is there are still 400-odd pages left to go and I just have no motivation to pick it up any more!

So you've read the official blurb. Sounds great, right? Unfortunately this fatally entertaining movie was referred to on approximately three occasions in the 60% of the story I finished. The narrative is more concerned with the daily lives and family histories of the drug addicts and tennis students mentioned above. It is chock full of lively characters who are all illustrated perfectly down to the last detail, and even minor players are incredibly engaging with likeable flaws.

There have been times when I've absolutely LOVED reading this - particularly the passages about the Ennet House residents and the Narcotics Anonymous meetings. I can honestly say that some of these chapters were 5 star quality for me, despite the fact that I chose not to continue reading the book in the end. They ring very true to life (from my own experience working in similar environments) and I wonder whether David Foster Wallace has drawn on any personal experiences when writing these bits. However, the book is also interspersed with pages and pages of dry, excruciating detail about really mundane events. Some of the other reviews I've read have suggested that the monotony is kind of 'the point', and that it should prompt the reader to ask questions about the nature of entertainment etc.
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