Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Broom of the System” as Want to Read:
The Broom of the System
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Broom of the System

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  16,923 Ratings  ·  1,348 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, 467 pages
Published May 25th 2004 by Penguin Books (first published 1987)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Broom of the System, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Aaron Hand I'll answer your question with a question of my own: Could a native English speaker read this and understand it? I'm not convinced.

But you seem to be…more
I'll answer your question with a question of my own: Could a native English speaker read this and understand it? I'm not convinced.

But you seem to be a good English speaker. And I actually think any lack of understanding would not come from having to grasp the English words, but just from the twisted concepts. There are a lot of idiomatic expressions that might trip you up, but I don't think they'd get in the way too much.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Rating details
Sort: Default
Joshua Nomen-Mutatio
Jan 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 02, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Mar 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2017, modern-lit
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
Jan 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Maria Bikaki
Μου αρέσει πάρα πολύ να έρχομαι σε επαφή με βιβλία που θα με βγάλουν από το αναγνωστικό μου “comfort zone”. Άσχετα αν θα πετύχει το πείραμα ή όχι είναι πάντα μια πρόκληση να βγεις από τα νερά σου, να βαδίσεις σε νέα μονοπάτια που υπό άλλες συνθήκες δε θα το έκανες τόσο εύκολα. Η Σκούπα και το σύστημα του Wallace είναι ένα τέτοιο αναγνωστικό πείραμα που με το τέλος του με αφήνει με λίγο ανάμεικτα συναισθήματα. Η ανάγνωση του συγκεκριμένου βιβλίου ήταν μια πραγματικά ξεχωριστή εμπειρία. Το ύφος γρ ...more
Feb 19, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Βαθμολογία: 3.5*
Η σχέση μου με το Μεταμοντέρνο δεν είναι ιδανική - τουναντίον. Ίσως το αφήγημά του δεν μου ακούγεται πειστικό, ιδίως η απεγνωσμένη του ανάγκη να διαφοροποιηθεί από τους Προγόνους με κάθε δυνατό -και αδύνατο- τρόπο.
Σε κάθε περίπτωση, οφείλει κάποιος να κρίνει κατά περίπτωση, δεδομένου πως στη γενίκευση κρύβεται ο… Διάβολος. "Η σκούπα και το σύστημα", κατά τη ταπεινή μου άποψη, είναι ένα κατά το ήμισυ ολοκληρωμένο έργο.
Το μισό εκείνο που εξαντλείται στο μεταμοντέρνο χιούμορ (ξεκά
Dec 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 19, 2009 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
MJ Nicholls
Dec 02, 2012 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
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
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
Dec 20, 2011 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.
Jul 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars
Aug 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Part 1

Judith Prietht. Once I sounded it out I hated her so much. DFW’s humor is something I haven't found anywhere else: its weirdness, the build up to the jokes, and the LOLZ. The therapist scenes were the hardest I’ve laughed at a book since the Eschaton debacle.

Another thing DFW brings to the table is his descriptive writing which immediately embeds me into the scene,

The hair hangs in bangs, and the sides curve down past Lenore’s cheeks and nearly meet in points below her chin, like the brit
Celeste - Una stanza tutta per me
Geniale nella sua estrosità e divertentissimo nel tentativo di sorprendere, il primo romanzo di DFW (scritto a 24 anni, la butto lì) è una discesa vorticosa nel mondo di Lenore Beadsman, che pur cercando in ogni modo di essere unica viene incasellata dal suo sfondo socioeconomico ma anche ambientale, e soprattutto da una miriade di personaggi surrealmente realistici.
Stupisce l'ilarità di Foster Wallace, che pur non manca - come sempre - di toccare argomenti a dir poco filosofici, con stili che s
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.
Sep 10, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook, usa, novels
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
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.
May 11, 2012 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
Jan 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, american
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
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
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
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
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.
Jan 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-read
DFW did for me again. I love his work. I was worried that I would not enjoy this as much as I did Infinite Jest and Pale King, but I loved it. It was laugh out loud funny. Many great characters orbiting one, Lenore Beadsman.
Jessica Sullivan
Nov 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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
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,
« 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
“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.” 89 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.” 78 likes
More quotes…