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Infinite Jest [Paperback]

David Foster Wallace
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (111 customer reviews)
RRP: 12.99
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Book Description

5 Jun 1997

Somewhere in the not-so-distant future the residents of Ennet House, a Boston halfway house for recovering addicts, and students at the nearby Enfield Tennis Academy are ensnared in the search for the master copy of INFINITE JEST, a movie said to be so dangerously entertaining its viewers become entranced and expire in a state of catatonic bliss . . .

'Wallace's exuberance and intellectual impishness are a delight, and he has deep things to say about the hollowness of contemporary American pleasure . . . sentences and whole pages are marvels of cosmic concentration . . . Wallace is a superb comedian of culture'

James Wood, GUARDIAN

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Infinite Jest + Brief Interviews With Hideous Men + Consider The Lobster: Essays and Arguments
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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: 13.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (111 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,479 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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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
I came in expecting to hate it. Comparisons to Pynchon; "genius" shown on the cover to be what seemed a twerp in a baseball cap; footnotes... but this turned out to be a darned good book. Why? Everything seemed to be against it. The Science Fictional element was very weak; the story had no beginning or end; there were endless digressions... but the author really IS brilliant; the characters are terrific; there is wit, (human)realism, pithy commentary on today, and humour --and unlike Pynchon, it's honest humour. (Pynchon rips you off consciously. Wallace on the other hand is genuine. He really has things to say and he honestly says them.) I put down the book (after days of not being able to put it down much) and said, "well that was really worth reading."
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112 of 116 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fabulous 26 May 1999
By A Customer
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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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It beat me 20 May 2012
By Marie
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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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Like wading through champagne jelly 12 Sep 2006
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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Infinite Scope, Limited Jest 20 May 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
There are plenty of reasons to dislike this book. It's ridiculously long, overwritten and overblown in places, the plot is fragmented and difficult to follow and many will balk at the ending.

That said this book might just change your life and will change the way you think. DFW might not be the greatest storyteller but his wondrous analytical brain, his powerful imagination and his mastery of language are all on display.

Whether IJ is really a novel at all is a matter of debate. It's certainly a melting pot of different strains - a treatise on loneliness, discourse on addiction, a window (lots of windows) on depression, corporatism, environmentalism, terrorism, entertainment, friendship and family . A tale of genuinely amazing scope capturing life and thought in the modern media saturated, sensory overloaded, consumption driven age. While those who find themselves a little bit lost or broken in this overwhelming age of ours may not necessarily find answers or even solace in IJ they will certainly feel a little less alone in the universe.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Package received in good time, item as described, very happy.
Published 1 month ago by Emma Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard to define brilliance
I was so annoyed by the style of this book as it went through events with there being no feeling of a cohesive story-line developing but then, isn't that more realistic than... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Tim
5.0 out of 5 stars My Everest, brilliant, brilliant
More challenging to read than I ever imagined, more gut wrenching, more inspiring. Loved it all, a 'must read' book.
Published 6 months ago by Karen l
2.0 out of 5 stars Hard to read on a Kindle
I wouldn't recommend reading this on a Kindle as the footnotes are very hard to navigate. Get a hard copy!
Published 6 months ago by holly_golightly
5.0 out of 5 stars Challenging but worth it and very, very funny
I guess this is how it feels to climb a mountain. Just finished 'Infinite Jest' today (some unsettling final pages) and yes I'm glad it's over but YES I'm glad I committed to its... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Fute
2.0 out of 5 stars Reviewers vary
I bought this book because of the positive reviews. It's understandable, it is interesting. The production is bad. It's far to long. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Braiswick
5.0 out of 5 stars A Request for the First Time Reader.
If you're looking at all these mixed reviews for Infinite Jest, then I would already guess that most of you have read or heard something or someone testifying to the Genius of... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Mr. J. W. Dickson
5.0 out of 5 stars A once-in-a-generation masterpiece
This is one of the greatest American novels ever written.
It's not an easy read but it rewards every bit of the attention it demands. Read more
Published 13 months ago by D. W. Kessler
3.0 out of 5 stars If you have the time, and patience...
Novels that pass a certain length are always difficult to review. At around 600-or-so pages the brain tends to detach to a certain degree and absorb what follows, rather than... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Carol A.
5.0 out of 5 stars The new benchmark in American literature
American culture, or rather, as it seems to be now, western culture, the whole of western society, is not the nurturing medium that humans think it is. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Mr. Omnibus Biscuit
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