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Infinite Jest

4.33  ·  Rating Details  ·  47,086 Ratings  ·  5,982 Reviews
A gargantuan, mind-altering comedy about the Pursuit of Happiness in America set in an addicts' halfway house and a tennis academy, and featuring the most endearingly screwed-up family to come along in recent fiction, Infinite Jest explores essential questions about what entertainment is and why it has come to so dominate our lives; about how our desire for entertainment a ...more
ebook, 1377 pages
Published April 13th 2009 by Back Bay Books (first published February 1st 1996)
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Steven Asin Infinite Jest is the perfect book for the Kindle Paperwhite. Beyond the ease with which one can look-up footnotes, consider the following: (a) It is a…moreInfinite Jest is the perfect book for the Kindle Paperwhite. Beyond the ease with which one can look-up footnotes, consider the following: (a) It is a weighty text that is difficult to carry around, as well as just hold and read, in its printed forms. (b) Wallace indulges in lacing his text with words that are outside the vocabulary of most educated readers. While I appreciate that devotees of IJ have lugged unabridged dictionaries along with the IJ volume itself, it is not something I could have managed. Moreover, words I never new existed pop up with sufficient frequency that looking them up in a separate volume would be both disruptive to the books narrative flow and significantly increase the amount of time needed to read this book. The Kindle allows you to just press on the unknown word to get a definition. (c) IJ is a long book with multiple plot lines, and if you have a limited time to devote to reading it on a daily basis you can loose track of narrative details and characters. The Kindle "X-ray" feature allows you to click on a character's name and get a brief summary to refresh your recollection of the character or plot development. I would have found it impossible to read IJ, despite how appealing I find it, without the advantages offered by reading it on the Kindle.(less)
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Community Reviews

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It's my habit to write on the inside sleeve of a book the words from the text that I can't define or don't understand. Here is the resulting list from the back inside sleeve of Infinite Jest:

Jun 22, 2009 karen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hamletian, favorites, dfw
this book...

i think it is time to write a proper review for this book, as it is one of my all-time favorites and deserves way more than two words. back when i was a junior in college, i was at the nyu bookstore, trying to sell back some textbooks before going away for winter break. the person in line in front of me was trying to sell back infinite jest (where was i when this class was being offered?? ) and of course, they werent taking it back because nyu is a stingy fucking school. she turned a
Joshua Nomen-Mutatio
Mar 30, 2014 Joshua Nomen-Mutatio rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
While I don't actually have A Favorite Book (or Song, or Album, or Band, or Film, or Painting, or Sexual Position, or any other category of things that contain more than one equally great contender) Infinite Jest is the first book that immediately comes to mind when the idea of My Favorite Book arises.

As I've already alluded to and partially instantiated in a few scattered places around GoodReads, I feel that I read this book at the right time. The contingent particulars which culminated as the
Jul 20, 2013 Warwick rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: obsessive-compulsive tennis players and college students on antidepressants
Recommended to Warwick by: everyone
USHER: Goodreads court is now in session, the Honourable Judge Chandler presiding. All rise.

JUDGE: Mr Wise, you appear before the court today on the charge of failing to adore Infinite Jest, an act in gross and flagrant violation of basic Goodreads standards of decency. How do you plead?

WARWICK: Well...I mean presumably this kind of thing is all subjective opinion, so—

PROSECUTOR: Let the record show that the defendant utterly fails to deny his foul sin.

WARWICK: Hang on—

JUDGE: So noted. If found
David Beavers
Jun 07, 2012 David Beavers rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've been waiting, panther-like, for the right combination of caffeine and personal gumption to strike, to attack writing about this, since it really is one of my favorite books ever-ever, and one of the most fascinating things I've ever read. I've read this book twice and I could care less what people say about it, because when I *do* care, I tend to grit my teeth over the ridiculous comments & reviews that tend to come up in discussing David Foster Wallace's work. People like to levy the c ...more

Know what they say about novels such as Infinite Jest: Don’t seek Perfection or Pleasure but rather seek the Infinite Possibilities.

I have a lot to say about this book but before that there’s a little I don’t want to say about it. Here it is:

This book is never ending.

It bored me at times too.

Some of the end notes were annoying.

I read many other books when I was supposed to read this book.

Whenever somebody asked me what IJ was all about, I was unable to come up with a clear-cut answer.

I skipped f
Mike Puma
Feb 14, 2013 Mike Puma rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
“Sometimes excess isn’t enough.” –some anonymous Springfield reader

The Years of Humble Beginnings

A couple years ago, somehow I stumbled on this site and realized, very quickly, what a tremendous opportunity it presented. A chance to catalog my library my way. How nice for me. Even better, a chance to rate books, the ones I loved and the ones I liked less. Oh. Oh! And there were people here, names that kept popping up when I read reviews of books I’d loved. So I did what I imagined any intell

Ian Grayjoy
DJ Ian's Sunday Evening "Tell Me What You Really Think"

You're listening to Radio KCRCR, "Tell Me What You Really Think", where we listen to the critics and you talk back. That's if there's any time left after I finish my rant. Hehe.

A lot of listeners ask me about my namesake. What about that other Ian Graye, you say. The one on GoodReads. What do you think of him? And what did you think of his recent review of David Foster Wallace's magnum opus?

Well, let me reassure you: that other Ian Graye is
And Lo, for the Earth was empty of form, and void.
And Darkness was all over the Face of the Deep.
And We said:
Look at that fucker Dance
Real life is a pain. Real life is a bitch. Real life slumps you together from a squiggly mess and shoots you out to a cold and unfeeling world, empty in mind and soul. So you scrounge around for meaning, whatever fulfills your personal definition of said meaning, eyes gaping for that next slice of indomitable thrills and chills, mouth pincering over a statue in
I've finally reached the end of this amazing book. It's not an easy read, but after a while you discover that there are good reasons why it has to be the way it is.

The review is the mini-blog I kept while I was reading it. It sort of contains spoilers: I don't give away very much about the plot, but I do spend a lot of time speculating about what the overall point of the book is. So if that kind of thing bothers you, you probably shouldn't read on. Read Infinite Jest instead, then come back and
Aug 15, 2009 Kemper rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I should have hated this book. 1079 pages of small text with loooooonnnnggggg paragraphs and little white space so it feels like you’re reading a newspaper from 1881. Plus, 96 goddamn pages of endnotes. *1 The plot, such as it is, doesn’t really come into focus until several hundred pages into it, and even though it’s set in the near future where something very strange has happened in North America, this doesn’t get explained until about mid-way through the book so you’re left feeling confused a ...more
Dec 07, 2010 Greg rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, favorites
I have written a more substantial but no more real review than the little blurb that used to sit here. The original blurb written on the day I heard DFW died follows this lengthy and self-indulgent exercise.

Within a year of each other two works of entertainment were released that have been pretty darn influential to me. One is this book, and the other was Jawbreaker's album Dear You. Both are relatively polarizing works, people either seem to love it or hate it*.

Jawbreaker's album was a momento
In 1863 Abraham Lincoln decided that the fourth Thursday of each November would be recognized nationally as Thanksgiving. Today happens to be the fourth Thursday in November. Happy Thanksgiving.

I would like to give thanks to the fact that I finished this mother-effing book today.

It's now 9:40 EST as I start to write this review. I finished reading approximately five hours ago. Since then I have polished off almost an entire bottle of Chardonnay. It's taken me this long to a) get a nice enough bu
May 07, 2012 B0nnie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourite-books
Mulholland Drive (M.D.) is the movie that made me a David Lynch fan. Infinite Jest (I.J.) is the book that has made me a DFW fan. I mention this because the first time I saw M.D., I immediately rewatched it. Likewise for I.J. - as soon as I finished it, I flipped to the beginning and started again. This is a book so fractured in structure that it needs serious re-examination and puzzling over. M.D. and I.J. break up the story rather than direct telling, dropping clues and hints along the way. Th ...more
Apr 22, 2013 Jason rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There don’t appear to be enough reviews of Infinite Jest on Goodreads so I thought I’d go ahead and write another one.

Anyway, I kind of hated this book. I hated that its characters are essentially parodies of themselves which limited my ability to connect with them on any meaningful level. I hated the lack of linguistic nuance with which most of the characters speak, particularly given that the predominant speech pattern here is rife with superfluous clauses and multiple possessives, a pattern n
Aug 31, 2015 brian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: DAVID!
Recommended to brian by: karen, fleshy, charles
the world of ideas as they blow through the buttons of our coats, through the letters in our rooms, through the flowers in our tombs, blowing every time we move our teeth.

So, so far....

I know what I weigh. I brush my teeth, paint my toes, wash my hair. I dress up my tote of skin as best I can. I do all this, spend all this time on my outside because I care about what other people think and see and smell and hear about me. But the real me, the unique substance that resides inside my skin and bones and fluids, that many call a soul, doesn’t get the same treatment. And it should. It really should.
It is so much more important than my freckled flesh. But I don’t know
Sep 14, 2008 Tara rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Infinite Jest is a symptom of something wrong in the literary world: is there nothing else out there with meaning people can find to adore? It's neither a work of genius, nor is it insightful. There are serious things wrong with this book. I think the bigger problem here is why anyone, anywhere, thinks this is brilliant. Somehow the advent of smarmy advertisement and sterile, banal corporate living over the past one hundred and fifty years has invaded our literature, and we think it's wonderful ...more
Jan 30, 2015 Mary rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2013
Goodness, this is a polarizing piece of work.

I started IJ with much anticipation and high expectations, fueled by the praises of many, many, people I know and respect. I’m thrilled that so many enjoy IJ – what’s better than a book that makes you squeal with joy? Not much.

Obviously I didn’t click with IJ. Or with Wallace’s writing style. Or both.

It just was not for me.

For the first 100-200 pages or so I believed I was going to enjoy this much more than I did. The set up was intriguing. The topi
ETA, 5 Sept. 13: To say I've been thinking about this book all summer would be a lie, as I have been thinking about this book since I finished it in February. Obsessively. A novel hasn't stuck with me and invaded my thoughts like I gave it a key to the place since Gravity's Rainbow. And I can honestly say, with nary a trace of exaggeration, that it has absolutely changed how I look at people, all for the better. Where was that fifth star? It was waiting for me to realize how deeply IJ's characte ...more
Ian Grayjoy
100 Words in Search of Precision

In the spirit of "Star Trek”, DFW boldly wanders through the darkness of the modern world, holding a candle, recording everything he witnesses in minute, almost helmet-cam detail.

He isn’t just preoccupied by or satisfied with the absurdity and comic potential of the world.

He wants to scrutinise it, diagnose it and cure it.

Out of the minutiae comes meaning and illumination.

It’s up to the reader to sift through the minutiae, to discard the mullock and the fool’s gol
Paul Bryant
That's it, I'm demoting this one back to the TO-READ shelf - my pal Nick recently said he's changed the status of some intended time-consuming jobs from "when I retire" to "when I'm reincarnated" - maybe I'll read IJ in the next life, although as I intend to be a mighty elm tree in my next life that may prove difficult, but maybe you don't get to choose what you are, you just line up like at the bank or the post office and you go to a middle aged woman behind a wire mesh and she says "Okay honey ...more
Stephen M
May 28, 2012 Stephen M rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who loves to read.
Recommended to Stephen M by: Too many people to name.
Inelegant Brevity
Upon finishing this tome, I held it clutched between my victorious hands and shook the 1000 page-plus behemoth over my head, making some atavistic, phlemish noises from deep within my chest. It had been two months of struggling through a seemingly impenetrable wall of prose and esoteric jargon. DFW has quite the hankering for specialized knowledge, inside vernacular, nicknames, neologisms, innitialisms and acronyms. Couple that with 100+ pages of endnotes and this makes for a he
MJ Nicholls
Jan 12, 2011 MJ Nicholls rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to MJ by: Stuart Kelly
In his 1967 postmodernist primer The Literature of Exhaustion, John Barth says: “A labyrinth . . . is a place in which, ideally, all the possibilities of choice are embodied and . . . must be exhausted before one reaches the heart.”

Thirty years later, as postmodernism twitches through its death throes, DFW publishes the labyrinthine Infinite Jest, where all possibilities are exhausted while shattering the heart. The novel is structured around a Sierpinski Gasket, a complex series of triangles mu
Jan 03, 2016 Jaidee rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: not sure cuz i really disliked it

2015 Book I was Most Afraid to Hate

I read 11%. I can't do this....

Emotionally I feel

10 % amused.
90% frustrated bored and irritated.

Sorry to my buds that love it but time is toooooo short to struggle through a very long book that I'm starting to resent.

onwards and upwards :-)
Feb 18, 2013 Caris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, 2013
Back in November of 2011, I got a toothache. I’d had toothaches before, but this was something else entirely. It hurt so badly I couldn’t think. To cope, I ate all of my wife’s post-childbirth pain pills. They didn’t last nearly long enough. When I caught myself frantically trying to come up with ways to get more high quality pain medication, I realized it was probably time to visit the dentist.

I made the call and less than 24 hours later, I was sitting in the chair. The dentist introduced himse
Aug 18, 2011 Steve rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
All David, All the Time

I suspect anyone who scales this mountainous tome will confess to some level of obsession for having done so. For me it took the form of extra reading time walking the sidewalks from the train to the office. I noticed I was given a wide berth when people saw the size of the prow coming their way. With such preoccupation you might imagine I was lost in the story, but it was more like getting lost in thoughts about the author himself. He and his sprawling intellect loomed la
Jan 06, 2016 julio rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition


Does for the English language and the definition of what it means to be an American what Citizen Kane did for cinema.

Some of the most riveting two million words I've ever read.

And probably the most hilarious 800 pages of footnotes I have ever read.

I've never been the same since.

A friend once told me that the only appropriate response to a person who calls you or your work "genius" is to calmly and clearly enunciate the words "go fuck yourself."

Make of that what you will, but when D
May 27, 2012 Hadrian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american, fiction
Third try I've read this so far. Gotten through 350 pages - best yet. Don't understand why I've stopped so far. I like DFW's other books, his digressions, and I like long books. Don't know why this book is so impenetrable to me. It mocks me on the shelf. I'll finish you someday, I swear.

Read the last two hundred pages in a long binge that took up most of the day.

A particularly eloquent Goodreads reviewer said that after you finish a really
Feb 15, 2010 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2010
Hmm. I'm not sorry that I took the time to read this - parts of it were terrific. But other parts - huge, seemingly interminable, turgid undisciplined chunks - were frankly unforgivable. It's unfortunate that DFW's brilliance obviously intimidated his editor to a degree that did neither of them any favors.

There is a sort of arc that describes my reaction to the book - for about the first 150 pages or so, it was touch and go. Then things improved dramatically, and for the next 500 pages, DFW had
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David Foster Wallace worked surprising turns on nearly everything: novels, journalism, vacation. His life was an information hunt, collecting hows and whys. "I received 500,000 discrete bits of information today," he once said, "of which maybe 25 are important. My job is to make some sense of it." He wanted to write "stuff about what it feels like to live. Instead of being a relief from what it fe ...more
More about David Foster Wallace...

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“Everybody is identical in their secret unspoken belief that way deep down they are different from everyone else.” 4006 likes
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