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Infinite Jest [Paperback]

David Foster Wallace
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (118 customer reviews)
RRP: £13.07
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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

Frequently Bought Together

Infinite Jest + Consider The Lobster: Essays and Arguments + Brief Interviews With Hideous Men
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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: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (118 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,005 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
114 of 118 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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30 of 32 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 Finite Genius
Even better on rerereading and Kindle is ideal platform to handle the footnote heaviness. Sleep peacefully DFW, your tortured genius is forever missed.
Published 4 days ago by Steve Jones
5.0 out of 5 stars After 200 pages I knew it was going to be my favourite book
I loved it after the first sentence. After 200 pages I knew it was going to be my favourite book. Great writing all the way through; so many unique, alive characters. Read more
Published 21 days ago by Paul McDonagh
5.0 out of 5 stars Warning: get the right edition
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... Read more
Published 25 days ago by Callum Locke
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved the flag. Well worth it.
An American eagle wearing a sombrero and holding a maple leaf. ONANists So much fun. And so much darkness. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Joy Luss
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Don't give up, and not just because your friends will be impressed...
Published 1 month ago by sheed
5.0 out of 5 stars Genius.
Pure genius.
Published 1 month ago by Claire Hooper-Young
5.0 out of 5 stars Five stars isn't enough
Difficult but so, so worth it. All the effort you put into reading this book will be repaid in kind; it's one of the funniest, saddest, most complex, most interesting, endlessly... Read more
Published 2 months ago by AlohaBuskins
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Package received in good time, item as described, very happy.
Published 4 months 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 4 months 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 9 months ago by Karen l
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