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The Broom of the System Paperback – 1 May 1993

4.1 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 467 pages
  • Publisher: Avon Books; Reprint edition (May 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0380719916
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380719914
  • Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 14 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,195,426 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Daring, hilarious... a zany picaresque adventure of contemporary America run amok. ("The New York Times") Wonderful... a cathartic experience with lots of laughs and lots of deeper meanings. ("The Washington Post Book World")

"Daring, hilarious... a zany picaresque adventure of contemporary America run amok." The New York Times

"Wonderful... a cathartic experience with lots of laughs and lots of deeper meanings." The Washington Post Book World" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

David Foster Wallace's fiercely original, bracingly funny first novel, reissued to coincide with his new short story collection. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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4.1 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Put quite simply, David Foster Wallace is one of our strongest living authors. If you are daunted by the length and detail of the gigantic Infinite Jest (and you've every right to be) this funny, perceptive and enlightening novel is an excellent place to start.
Wallace follows on from the likes of Don De Lillo by crafting an entertaining story that also provides a critique of our (post)modern age. His unique talent is to pinpoint aspects of life that we are no longer receptive to and inject a healthy element of the bizarre to into a story of underlying tenderness.
In this case, the dust-jacket synopsis is true in every detail. This book will open your eyes, make you laugh and teach you about Wittgenstein, all through the vernacular.
A rare achievement, very highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback
Much more accessible than his masterpiece "Infinite Jest", Wallace's first novel, "The Broom of the System" is an enjoyable, funny (if very pleased with itself) effort.

Word of advice; don't try to look for a plot, let alone follow it. The main characters, sort of romantically linked (and both definitely emotionally stunted) Lenore Beadsman and Rick Vigorous (don't ask), share most of the story-telling load. Ostensibly, Lenore's great grandmother (also called Lenore, I know, I know...) goes missing from the old folk's home Lenore's super-rich family own.

Now, forget all about the plot! It's no longer relevant. The book is a comical look into other people's weird little lives. I would maybe categorise it as semi-magical realism?

Lenore's middle to upper class life and inability to deal with her family in the midst of a long-term existentialist crisis (she finds it hard to believe she's real - Wallace having a joke at the reader's expense?) and the neurotic publisher Vigorous telling his story in a series of fictional accounts and therapy sessions are just some of the struggles that run through the novel.

The therapist is an eccentric, unethical swine and is almost as hilarious as Lenore's talking cockatiel. Like I said, just enjoy and don't ask.

Bear with me (and the book) and you'll be rewarded. It's very funny and surreal and obviously the somewhat autobiographical work of a sensitive, playful, messed up genius (the author took his own life in 2008). Wallace's themes include these existential crises and psychology. Ludwig Wittgenstein is cited as an influence, not that I know much about Ludwig Wittgenstein!

Anyway, don't let this review put you off. Try the book. Let it wash over you and have a think about it when you're done.
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Format: Paperback
In his all too brief career as a writer, David Foster Wallace was recognized quickly as the finest writer of our generation. A most astute assessment made by the likes of exceptional peers such as Rick Moody and David Lipsky; the latter, the author of a recent best-selling travel memoir, "Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself", recounting a five day road trip spent with Wallace. That Wallace was destined for literary greatness is clearly demonstrated in this novel, "The Broom of the System", written as an honors thesis at his undergraduate alma mater, Amherst College. It is an exceptional, fascinating, often compelling work of fiction that ranks with my own favorite outstanding modern literary debuts; "Neuromancer" (William Gibson), "Fool on the Hill" (Matt Ruff), and "Gun, With Occasional Music" (Jonathan Lethem). However, with the notable exception of Gibson, no other writer can lay claim to influencing an entire generation of his peers, like, for example, Rick Moody, whose most recent novels, "The Diviners" and "The Four Fingers of Death", could be seen as partial homages to Wallace's exceptional literary craft.

Wallace's greatest strength as a writer was his uncanny ear for great dialogue, which is one of the most admirable traits in "The Broom of the System". Another was his ability to create great characters like his heroine Lenore Stonecipher Beadsman. While the book is fundamentally a "Perils of Pauline" saga recounting the romantic - and otherwise - misadventures of Lenore, there are ample witty asides to everything from boardroom politics to Wittgenstein. I read this novel a few months ago, but I still can't get it out of my head, so compelling is Wallace's portrayal of Lenore and her friends and colleagues.
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Format: Paperback
Surprisingly good. Surprising because as fan of more sparse, minimal literature I've always been suspicious of DFW and that doorstopper of his, Infinite Jest. I've enjoyed his non-fiction and I know his short stories are just that but, none the less, I was hesitant about reading this.

I needn't have been because TBOTS is very readable. Certainly there are occasions when Wallace fires some intellectual waffle your way but, as a whole, it takes up very little of the 450 pages. What constitutes most of this novel is just a very funny tale about a very odd place and the characters within. That's about it really. I don't think this book or DFW is trying to be smart here and readers shouldn't look for something that isn't there.

Read TBOTS without any preconceptions ("it'll take ages to read," "it's going to be pretentious") and I reckon you'll find a lot to like.
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