Infinite Jest

Infinite Jest

A Novel

Book - 2006
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A spoof on our culture featuring a drug-and-alcohol rehabilitation house near Boston. The center becomes a hotbed of revolutionary activity by Quebec separatists in revolt against the Organization of North American Nations which now rules the continent.
Publisher: New York : Back Bay Books, 2006.
ISBN: 9780316066525
0316066524
Characteristics: xv, 1079 p. ;,24 cm.

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d
dgiard
May 17, 2020

"Infinite Jest" by David Foster Wallace takes place in the near future - mostly in and around Boston, MA.

Things are a bit different in the future.

Calendar years are no longer referred to by ordinal numbers; instead, the naming rights to each year is auctioned off to commercial products. Years now go by names such as "Year of the Perdue Wonderchicken", "The Year of the Trial Size Dove Bar", and "Year of the Tucks Medicated Pad". Most of the story takes place during the "The Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment".

After contaminating the entire northeastern part of the United States, the US has coerced Canada into annexing the polluted region and using it as an international toxic waste dump. This region is known as "The Great Concavity", probably because of its shape, but possibly because of the frequency of babies born missing a skull.

Canada, Mexico, and the US are now part of a larger nation, known as the Organization of North American Nations, aka "ONAN", which may or may not be a reference to the Bible's most famous masturbator.

The novel follows dozens of characters and multiple story lines. Some are in a private Massachusetts high school that focuses on educating elite tennis players; others are in a nearby drug and alcohol rehabilitation center; still others are involved in international intrigue, espionage, and terrorism.

There is no shortage of quirky characters in Wallace's novel. Most are neurotic and some border on psychotic. Characters are damaged in a variety of ways, from being abused as children to the suicide of loved ones to drug addiction. One beautiful girl had acid thrown in her face by her mother, who was aiming for her philandering father.

They all search for happiness, but not seem to find it.

It's a difficult book to follow for the following reasons
-It is extremely long, has many characters, and many subplots
-It contains hundreds of footnotes and some of the footnotes have footnotes
-It sometimes switches backward and forward in time and even to long descriptions of characters' dreams

Some of the storylines came together; but many did not (or, if they did, I didn't see it). And that frustrated me.

Having said that, I did enjoy Wallace's writing and the characters he created and the imagination he put into individual scenes. But I failed to see the overall arc of the novel.

I'm tempted to read this book again to catch what I missed, but the 1000+ pages makes that a daunting task.

d
danielpslavik
Feb 03, 2020

June-August

m
mroz0
Jan 21, 2020

Worth reading. I've heard DFW described as a logophile and it's most evident in his use of language and lexicon. Take the time to write down and lookup unfamiliar terms with this one. Definitely read the footnotes too as they're essential to the narrative structure of the novel. Equal parts funny, depressing, horrifying, surreal, absurd and hyper-realistic.

s
sylviebryant
Mar 15, 2019

Lauren’s friend in NYC recommended

OPL_JaneS May 03, 2018

The definitive novel of 1990s postmodernism. The late David Foster Wallace somehow accomplished the impossible--a book both sprawling and intimate, intellectual and pedestrian. The only book I've ever read that really speaks the way the inner voice sounds. Ostensibly, it's a book about drug abuse at a prestigious tennis academy and a Boston-area halfway house, but you'd be better off making a list of things this book isn't about, rather than what it is.

s
Seth_Moses
Sep 25, 2017

One of my absolute favorites!

e
elizali
May 10, 2017

This book took me forever. I am normally a very quick reader; this one took 4 months. It was touch and go for awhile, but so glad I read this. I recommend reading in long stretches; reading on your lunch break isn't enough time to dive in. The times the book was most enjoyable is when I took it on airplanes. While dense, the book is beautiful in its complexities - reminiscent of art nouveau architecture - so rich it is hard to take it all in! This really is a masterpiece.

IanH_KCMO Sep 29, 2016

Don't feel bad if you have this one sent to the branch of your choice and you feel intimidated holding it in your hands. It happens a lot. Infinite Jest is intimidating at first (and a punchline as far as big, heady books go) but if you can make it through the first couple hundred pages and pick up on the novel's rhythm, it might change your life. It's not as tough as everyone makes it out to be, and despite being held up as one of these paragons of capital L Literature, there is a ton of heart and soul and humor in these pages. It's so funny! Like legitimately, laugh out loud hilarious. And also deeply sad and full of broken characters falling apart and broken characters trying to put themselves back together. It's deep, ridiculous, and can change the way you look at the world, and there's a reason the folks who love this book are borderline evangelical about it...which um, yeah, ok I am very evangelical about this book.

f
flyfisher88
Sep 21, 2016

I, as others, had a hard time getting through this book with all the footnotes and multiple themes. What saved me is a blog called infinite summer which gives an outline of the book with comments. It's a has a lot of humor (some of it very unusual). The blog (mentioned above) will help a lot of readers get through it and I think you will like it.

TSCPL_ChrisB Jun 04, 2016

A polarizing work you'll likely either love or hate. At least if you read it, you can honestly say you've read it (whatever that is good for).

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s
Seth_Moses
Sep 25, 2017

The truth will set you free. But not until it's finished with you.

TSCPL_ChrisB Jun 05, 2016

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

c
chiem14
Mar 05, 2013

“The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you.”

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chiem14
Mar 05, 2013

Other: Warning: this novel contains extreme epic-ness - along with language, drug references and other stuff.

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