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Infinite Jest

4.33 of 5 stars 4.33  ·  rating details  ·  40,142 ratings  ·  5,271 reviews
Infinite Jest is the name of a movie said to be so entertaining that anyone who watches it loses all desire to do anything but watch. People die happily, viewing it in endless repetition. The novel Infinite Jest is the story of this addictive entertainment, and in particular how it affects a Boston halfway house for recovering addicts and a nearby tennis academy, whose stu ...more
Paperback, 1079 pages
Published November 13th 2006 by Back Bay Books (first published February 1st 1995)
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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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The Great American Novel
36th out of 402 books — 694 voters
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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:

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
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
David Beavers
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
Jul 20, 2013 Warwick rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  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
Mike Puma
“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 Klappenskoff
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
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
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
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
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
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
Dec 20, 2010 brian rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: DAVID!
Recommended to brian by: karen, fleshy, charles
the creative act is one born from the marriage of inspiration and perspiration; but as the former is a flighty bitch we really must rely on perspiration, eh? and boatloads of concentration. so gallons of coffee work as a kind of 'insperspiration' to my easily-influenced system: 1. it fights off the ADHD and focuses me (not to mention mucho perspiration), and 2. it offers an initial euphoria giving way to a kind of mindfuckededness which, for me, paves the road to inspiration. mindfucked art, at ...more
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
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
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
Ian Klappenskoff
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
Stephen M
May 28, 2012 Stephen M rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
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
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
MJ Nicholls
Jan 12, 2011 MJ Nicholls rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
Jun 23, 2009 Bram rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2009
Take a look at the reviewer quotes on and within this book. Most of them extol DFW’s brilliance—as they should. He’s obviously brilliant; it oozes from the pages. And yet a writer’s intellectual fortitude does not a masterpiece make, and I’m not convinced that Infinite Jest is a faultless harnessing of the man’s genius (although is any book really?). That said, this novel is very, very good.

For some reason, I feel an overwhelming need to explain why I’m giving this book four starts instead of f
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
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
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
Jan 18, 2013 Megha added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone but me

Dang! I didn't see this coming. I hadn't expected to be giving up on Infinite Jest out of boredom, of all things. I mean I have seen people mention its length, its complex structure, non-linear timeline and all of that, but I don't hear people talking about how boring this can get. We know the kind of reputation Infinite Jest and Wallace enjoy on Goodreads. I can't think of another book which has elicited reviews as passionate and personal as this one does. I feel any one of those reviews has mo
A few days ago I was reading this at the gym while on the elliptical, sweating copiously, and a girl yelled at me from across the room "how do you even keep your place in that book?", to which I responded, "I use three bookmarks: one for where I'm actually reading in the text, one in the place where it explains the chronology of the book, and one in the endnotes." Her method was to buy two copies of the book and keep one open to the main body of the text and one open to the footnotes. Anyway, wh ...more
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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...
Consider the Lobster and Other Essays A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again:  Essays and Arguments Brief Interviews with Hideous Men This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life The Broom of the System

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“Everybody is identical in their secret unspoken belief that way deep down they are different from everyone else.” 3686 likes
“I do things like get in a taxi and say, "The library, and step on it.” 3446 likes
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