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The Broom of the System

3.84  ·  Rating Details ·  15,211 Ratings  ·  1,217 Reviews
Published when Wallace was just twenty-four years old, The Broom of the System stunned critics and marked the emergence of an extraordinary new talent. At the center of this outlandishly funny, fiercely intelligent novel is the bewitching heroine, Lenore Stonecipher Beadsman. The year is 1990 and the place is a slightly altered Cleveland, Ohio. Lenore's great-grandmother h ...more
Paperback, 480 pages
Published January 6th 1987 by Penguin Books (first published 1987)
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Joshua Nomen-Mutatio
Jan 18, 2012 Joshua Nomen-Mutatio rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
"I think I had kind of a mid-life crisis at twenty, which probably doesn't augur real well for my longevity. So what I did, I went back home for a term, planning to play solitaire and stare out the window, whatever you do in a crisis. And all of a sudden I found myself writing fiction."

It was 1986 and he was 24 years old when it was published. He began writing it fresh out of a fairly tumultuous mental health crisis at age 22 (or as he put it "a young 22") while simultaneously writing a highly t


You will see it. A dream dreamt and a dream realized. With this book, my small journey is complete (in a way) and I witnessed (in a small way) what went in the making of Infinite Jest. Let me draw the conclusion in broad brushstrokes. The Broom of the System + Girl with Curious Hair is NOT equal to Infinite Jest but a jest that was beginning to take shape in a mind, which in my eyes was capable of achieving anything. What David wanted to do was crack.
Stephen M
Are Words the Totality of Thoughts? Fighting Wittengenstein with (attempted) Brevity

The first thing that may strike a reader of DFW’s debut is his commitment to excessive detail. I imagine that his intention, among other things, was to illustrate the idea that words circumscribe our ability to conceptualize; thus, the mental imaging that is conjured up by his descriptions are malleable due to the author’s choice of certain word inclusion and exclusion. In a humorous bit, he describes in gross de
Mar 25, 2017 Hugh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern-lit, read-2017
A very enjoyable book, which is lighter in tone than Infinite Jest but still very complex.

I finished this over a week ago, while travelling up to Scotland for a walking trip on Skye, and it is no longer fresh in the memory since I have read other things since.

As in Infinite Jest, Wallace has created a fictional landscape of considerable complexity - an Ohio governor who decides to create a desert (the Great Ohio Desert, so like O.N.A.N. a silly acronym) as a tourist attraction, a bird whose ab
This book flat-out demands a multi-layered meta-review. I mean, it has everything a po-mosexual could ask for: characters aware they might be characters in a novel, nested short stories read by the characters that comment on the parent text, an intentionally unresolved and fractured plot, pages and pages of ironic philosophical dialogue, and an ending that just

Unfortunately, that level of post-modern detachment requires real talent, the talent of, say, David Foster Wallace. Yet DFW famously crit
Jan 16, 2012 Mariel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: that book was written just for me...
Recommended to Mariel by: my special-wecial friends
It was the tree frog story. The story about the Thermos woman who is always in profile, hiding under scarves and out of the way of all human connections. It was the tree frog that lived in the hole in her neck, and he through holes in the scarves around her neck. The tree frog that she nurtured and resented. Symbiotic amphibiotics. That was a part of her and yet not apart of her. This whole other not self thing that kept herself out of everything else. And the tree frog can only blink sadly, and ...more
Dec 31, 2015 Brad rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I could very theoretically start listing the shelves where this touches upon, but I'd rather just say that this is a first novel most cocaine heads listening to the middle days of heavy metal would want to write if they were hopelessly in love with with the craziest *roughage* post-modern deconstructionists willing to push all narratives into wonderfully feathered *roughage* prose that's more absurd mixed wth frame within frame within frame *roughage* stories that are linked so very vividly with ...more
MJ Nicholls
Dec 02, 2012 MJ Nicholls rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels, merkins
Lord Wallace of Amherst’s debut novel is—pardon the obvious—an enormo-homage to the postmodernist ladies. I was surprised at the sheer Gaddisness of this one (narratorless dialogue, two interlocutors per section, frequently deployed throughout) and not so surprised at the Delilloian weirdness and Barthian frametalemaking. The structure seems intricate and impressive, although the plot is mostly linear—each alphabetical sub-chapter responds to events close to those in previous alphabetical sub-ch ...more
Jan 19, 2009 Mark rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 16, 2009 Davis rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Any literate individual
Recommended to Davis by: Mom
David Foster Wallace was once quoted as saying "The Broom Of The System seems like it was written by a very smart 14 year old". I respectfully disagree with the always self-degrading and self-conscious author (Rest In Peace). In fact, due the relative success of this novel, and his inability to utilize it properly, Wallace had a mental breakdown. The circumstances around this book, both before and after, are incredibly interesting, and regretfully, there is a whole lot of space here to talk abou ...more
Dec 20, 2011 Darwin8u rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
I sure wasted a lot of time in college is all I can say. All in all, not a bad PoMo novel from a undergraduate senior thesis. Some ideas didn't seem to be finished, or put away, but that also seems to be a familiar theme in DFW's work. Not my favorite DFW, but I'd still prefer most days to read mediocre DFW to good/great anyone else.
Chantal Bacherini
Non sono sicura di ciò che ho letto e posso dire solo una cosa con certezza: non ho mai letto qualcosa di simile. Non penso che al mondo esista un altro scrittore come lo è stato David Foster Wallace, non credo di aver mai letto descrizioni tanto particolari; DFW riesce a descrivere quelle sensazioni che non pensavo potessero essere messe per iscritto, riesce a descrivere alla perfezione cose che noi percepiamo solamente, cose sussurrate.
"Che dire, dunque, di Lenore, dei capelli di Lenore? Sono
Leo Robertson
I’ve pained and obsessed over the recognition of genius in others for a long time now and finally feel like I’ve made some progress in my own thoughts: this is the most I will ever have to say about a book I read only a third of before giving up.

This, this, a story told to me with all the confidence of a young man so filled with self-belief and enthusiasm for a tale that he might well explain the entire plot of a film he enjoyed to me after I had just answered ‘Yes, I did see it.’ [1]

To those o
George-Icaros Babassakis
Σε λίγες ημέρες κυκλοφορεί από τις εκδόσεις Κριτική το πρώτο μυθιστόρημα του David Foster Wallace [μετάφραση & επίμετρο: Γιώργος-Ίκαρος Μπαμπασάκης]

Μια ιδιοφυώς στημένη κωμωδία με σκοπό να ασκήσει σκληρή αλλά και βαθύτατα ανθρώπινη κριτική στην ατμόσφαιρα και τη νοοτροπία που δέσποζαν στις Ηνωμένες Πολιτείες τη δεκαετία του 1990. Ο David Foster Wallace, στο πρώτο του μυθιστόρημα, δείχνει το δυναμικό ταλέντο και την πολύπτυχη ευρυμάθειά του. Ένας συναρπαστικός συνδυασμός υψηλής φιλοσοφίας και
Franco  Santos
Odio-amo este libro. Un oxímoron esperable al leer una novela de David Foster Wallace. Es creo que la novela de él que más se centra en el humor.
Aleksej Nilič Kirillov
Un universo di comica tristezza. Un continuo ridere con un costante groppo in gola. Un ininterrotto incupirsi senza poter fare a meno di mostrare i denti.
May 11, 2012 Mircalla64 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
" E il mio presente scrosciò e schiumò nel mio passato, e gorgogliò via."

ok, pronti? via

"puoi fidarti di me, sono un uomo di"

Lenore ha una nonna che è scappata dalla clinica, una nonna studiosa di Wittgenstein, poi ha un uccellino Vlad L'Impalatore, che parla a vanvera e un fidanzato, non fidanzato, un amico, Rick Vigorous, di Frequent & Vigorous, che è poco vigorous e ancora meno frequent!
poi c'è la fuga di nonna e amiche, papà che va a Corfù, sorelle e fratelli, e infine i racconti di Rick
This is a hard nut to crack. I decided long ago I needed to read old David Foster Wallace, and I wasn't feeling committed to the 1100 page chore of "Infinite Jest." As far as I can tell, he draws on three American literary traditions: the first is the American hysterical realist tradition that it helped to found (see DeLillo, Franzen), the second being the batshit tradition beloved by smart 18 year olds (see Vonnegut, Robbins), and the third being Thomas Pynchon, who is his own wonderful, babbli ...more
Praticamente questo libro è la “parola” nella sua immensa varietà. Parola che può farsi racconto, romanzo, nonsense, parabola, metafora, suggestione, gioco, analisi, invenzione, descrizione, silenzio, menzogna, imitazione.

Francamente, non ci ho capito granché e dubito che lo rileggerò mai, ma, per questa volta, non mi è spiaciuto averlo fatto. E magari non c’è proprio niente da capire, a parte il fatto che sconfiggere il caos, generato anche verbalmente, è impossibile.
Sep 10, 2014 stefano rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook, novels, usa
Allora. Parce sepulto, diceva quello. E io lo parco il sepulto, eccome se lo parco. La prima volta che ho sentito parlare di David Foster Wallace è stata quando è morto. Prima, mai. E per qualche giorno mi era sembrato che non averlo letto - dai, non hai letto Infinite Jest? E neanche La scopa del sistema? - fosse una terribile colpa da espiare al più presto. Insomma, devo confessare che ero un po' preoccupato: questo signore americano qua, un mezzo genio mezzo drogato mezzo alcolizzato mezzo de ...more
Okay, so I went into this with weirdly low expectations -- too many reviews saying it's immature, or not as good as the real DFW, the later DFW, but I think I just got tricked by the whole DFW cult thing that so annoys me, even though the books themselves delight me.

Anyway, this book was, granted, neither as long nor as difficult as Infinite Jest, but it was still a joy to read. There was the writing, which is beautiful, and also the material, which I guess I expected to be missing or immature,
Brevi appunti sparsi:

1. Questo è un genio.

2. Se cercate un libro con una trama lineare, un inizio e una fine, esposto chiaramente, con uno stile sempre uguale, canonico e mai stravagante, senza "voli" incomprensibili e filosofici (o presunti tali)... fermatevi qui e cambiate libro.

3. Scrivere a 24 anni un romanzo del genere significa o che hai un'immaginazione oltre ogni limite, o che sei completamente folle o che sei perennemente fatto. Propendo per un misto dei tre.

4. Si fa fatica a staccarsi
Jessica Weil
This book is a complete treasure for fans of David Foster Wallace. Here, in the honors thesis he wrote as an undergraduate student, we bear witness to the beginning stages of the thematic content (entertainment; consumerism; meaning; raw, gooey sentimentality) and literary style (philosophical, clever, post-modern) that would ultimately evolve into his masterpiece, Infinite Jest.

Inspired by Wittgenstein, The Broom of the System is — in the simplest terms — about language, meaning and identity. T
Aug 27, 2007 Rob rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
this was published 10 years before Infinite Jest. much like in IJ, every single character in this novel is broken, defective, missing some vital piece. one is missing a leg, one is missing a penis, many lack morality, or empathy, or confidence, or even any self-identity. but in infinite jest, you end up really liking a bunch of them -- their defects make them lovable, or you love their good qualities in spite of their defects. but in this novel, i sort of grew to despise all but one. i pinned al ...more
Dec 26, 2016 Junta rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who've read and liked DFW
Recommended to Junta by: Infinite Jest, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men
Shelves: american, dfw
The Broom of the Social Cataloguing Website

The white letters on the square black keys my fingers tap on. The books I'm currently reading, on my desk and next to and on top of the printer on the stand beside it. The glass of water that will take two or three more drinks before I refill it in the kitchen, with several cubes of ice. The box of Kleenex with pictures of a baby polar bear on all six faces. The desktop calendar made out of black wooden cubes for the two-digit days, in white script, o
Jan 27, 2013 Marcus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american, fiction
The best part of the book, and by telling you this, I am not really giving anything away, at least nothing that is pertinent to the plot of the book, is that there is a man-made black sand desert in Ohio, near Caldwell, Ohio, the Great Ohio Desert, where people go wandering, hiking, hiding, resolving existential crises, sunbathing and fishing in the desert's lake. It is "a blasted region. Something to remind us of what we hewed out of. A place without malls." It is often crowded and the best tim ...more
Max Nemtsov
Apr 07, 2016 Max Nemtsov rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Случайно выяснилось, что первый роман Уоллеса я, оказывается, уже читал — видимо, когда он только вышел, — но сила воздействия его была такова, что я о нем напрочь забыл. Второй заход оказался удачнее. Книжка это вполне забавная и развлекательная в некоторых частностях и кунштюках — только очень длинная. Проблема начинающего писателя-студента была явно в том, что он «никак не мог кончить», хотя на все, что там можно было сказать по существу, хватило бы и четверти ее финального объема.
Больше всег
Oct 05, 2016 Garidation rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ο πρώτος μου David Foster Wallace τολμώ να πω ότι με μάγεψε. Στην αρχή, μέχρι να καταλάβω τι γινόταν είχα χαωθεί αρκετά και αναρωτήθηκα αρκετές φορές τι στο καλό λέει και πού στο καλό το πάει και η πλοκή δεν έβγαζε νόημα και οι χαρακτήρες ήταν ό,τι να ναι και τι σκάλωμα γενικότερο υπάρχει με τις λέξεις τέλος πάντων; Και εκεί ήταν που μου τα 'σκασε: οι λέξεις! Και τότε έβγαλαν όλα νόημα: οι λέξεις, η έννοια των λέξεων δεν ήταν απλώς ένα σκάλωμα των χαρακτήρων αλλά το όλο νόημα του βιβλίου. Η πλοκ ...more
Roderick Vincent
Feb 06, 2016 Roderick Vincent rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: toptwenty
(4.5 stars)

David Foster Wallace creates characters more colorful than an array of salt water fish swimming in a fish tank. Each wears a hat that never quite fits, brains either too small or large or too soupy from the scrambling of gray matter spread out in the frying pan of this Cholula flavored narrative that makes your tongue tingle. It must be serendipity one of his Trigger fish is named Rick Vigorous, or RV as Dr. Jay prefers to call him (cough, cough, nothing like me, however). Tailless Ri
Jul 02, 2013 Maria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
David è uno spasso, davvero. Per quanto ci siano evidenti riferimenti a stati depressivi e disagi affini, lo stile di Wallace non è angoscioso, anzi, è brillante, è vivo.
Io ho riso, ma proprio tanto. E io sono una di quelle che a guardare Paperissima si deprime.
E' divertente, nella sua tristezza; qualunque situazione acquisisce, attraverso la sua voce, una connotazione particolare. Che più il momento è tragico, più lui te lo rigira in un modo irresistibile. Paradossi narrativi che spiazzano e co
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • Wittgenstein's Mistress
  • Against the Day
  • Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace
  • Elegant Complexity: A Study of David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest
  • Omensetter's Luck
  • Understanding David Foster Wallace
  • Lost in the Funhouse
  • JR
  • Forty Stories
  • Take Five
  • Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace
  • A Naked Singularity
  • The Atlas
  • Hot Pink
  • End Zone
  • David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest: A Reader's Guide
  • The Legacy of David Foster Wallace
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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“At first you maybe start to like some person on the basis of, you know, features of the person. The way they look, or the way they act, or if they're smart, or some combination or something. So in the beginning it's I guess what you call features of the person that make you feel certain ways about the person. ... But then if you get to where you, you know, love a person, everything sort of reverses. It's not that you love the person because of certain things about the person anymore; it's that you love the things about the person because you love the person. It kind of radiates out, instead of in. At least that's the way ... That's the way it seems to me.” 78 likes
“Modern party-dance is simply writhing to suggestive music. It is ridiculous, silly to watch and excruciatingly embarrassing to perform. It is ridiculous, and yet absolutely everyone does it, so that it is the person who does not want to do the ridiculous thing who feels out of place and uncomfortable and self-conscious . . . in a word, ridiculous. Right out of Kafka: the person who does not want to do the ridiculous thing is the person who is ridiculous. [...] Modern party-dance is an evil thing.” 76 likes
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