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981 pages...I put it down after 32. That was all the time I was willing to invest. The story needs to get off the ground and begin to go somewhere. It doesn't. Time is too valuable to spend it being strung along for page after page while the drug guy waits and waits for his dope to be delivered. The thirty-two pages I read reminded me of any number of 6-part TV mini-series that should only be two.
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
It is quite a tome. I was not able to finish the book by the due date, hence the four stars. Will try again later. It is not an easy read, not to say that is a bad thing. Reminded me of trying to get through John Milton or Boccaccio, obviously nuggets of genius in the work, but you need to fully devote your intellect and attention.
Negative thoughts (perhaps I'm yet able to get it if positively) on what I think to make this book unaccessible: the interweaving of 3 main plots ("Tennis academy", "Drug rehab", "Canadian terrorist") needs editing, the timeline construction and monologue storytelling elude readers; usage of overwhelmingly (math, science, art, geopolitics, humanity...) technical terms, made-up words and vernacular from all social strata, scarce punctuation, ranting with too much details, - a big collection of showing off; Notes section is vast and mixed with heavy (and valuable?) references to "drug taxonomy and usage", but also disguised with some of the best and important content that should be upgraded from the footnote; the book must have been written under influence, the nauseous ending does not close any plots in the book.
It's hardly of comparison with most books in the market, guess whoever (not a weak-gutted) read through it would give high remark. It's not my all time favorite though, aside from profound humor of human life, I sometimes found this book endearing (location, time -wise, and every day human being) and intimate, wish to join a bookclub dedicated to this opus.
• Upon completing my 78th book of the year...
I neither recommend you read this book nor recommend that you do not read _Infinite Jest_—You must be solely responsible for that decision.
David Foster Wallace was clearly one whacked-out dude, but I beat him at his own game—While I may not have read every word in this monstrosity, I certainly did look at each and every one.
I'll use Dorothy Parker's words to end this…
"This book has all the depth and glitter of a worn dime."
"This wasn't just plain terrible, this was fancy terrible. This was terrible with raisins in it."
I read this book in a binge like fury of a week, and I enjoyed every moment of it. Although sometimes daunting and extremely verbose this book was an absolute pleasure to read.
Infinite Jest is a big commitment, but it is worth it. The characters are unforgettable. The depiction of addiction and attempts at recovery is one of the most honest that I have read in fiction. It is also laugh out loud funny. DFW was a genius.
I wasn't able to read fiction for months after I finished Infinite Jest, as nothing else could compare to its intensity. This novel is courageous in both length and content.
Loved this book! Very funny!
Absolutely mindblowing, and absolutely NOT for everyone. For sure, the first 50 pages or so are completely overwhelming and a bit of a slog... but then the pace picks up, my brain started to understand what was going on, and then I was full-on addicted. This is not light reading and is a true project: took about 6 months to read (which means multiple take-outs and renewals!). I've never read anything like it, and already know I will read it again; some of the funniest, most tragic and cleverest writing I've encountered.
A very enjoyable and humorous book. Try Girl with the Curious Hair ( a collection of short stories by the author) to see if you like the author's sense of humor. This novel is over 1000 pages of very dense narrative and descriptions. Expect to spend some time enjoying the prose, Well worth reading if you can handle the "Epic" aspect of the novel.
Worth the multiple months of reading. Entertaining, even in its own right, and will definitely be placed among the best novels of all time, if it hasn't been already.