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.
I have thirty pages to go in this book and have to say it's been disappointing throughout. You get the idea Wallace is lost. The book feels like it was stopped(abandoned) and started. Its continuity(or a lack of any other creative force)balky. As in e.g. all creative force has dried up far before the books end. Does literature as a whole benefit from Wallace's work? If the point is to confuse the reader he(Wallace) I would call a consummate jerk for his work Infinite Jest. I spent six very intense weeks of reading with my own notes, reading guide infinitejest.wallacewiki.com. The book is very funny. What you put in to comprehending all the characters and places and organizations and translations is part of the fun and frustration of the(his, Wallace's) work. Comprehending Wallace's biting-off-and-elaborating-more-than-one-might-intellectually-masticate with all the made up crap and inevitable misspelling's ubiquitous in the scrutiny of a surprising amount of novels I've read makes you think he was doing all this in way to simply amuse himself. Like Himself's Work and the point is that it's pointless and unnecessary for art to be understood even by the artist. Especially the audience or critics. He was human. Love him for his flaws. (The work) quite(largely) beautiful and quite(largely) damaged. Bravo, DFW!
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.
Just reread this for the third time....it is worth the time to read this massive book.
You meet Hal Incandenza at the beginning, in hell. You meet Gately about halfway through, on his way out of hell. The rest of the book tells how Hal wound up there, and why Gately is willing to do anything at all to get out. There is a lot of associated cerebral razzle-dazzle, all functional and interesting, but basically serving to dilute the central story enough that it doesn't hurt you so bad you can't finish.
a great example of someone trying to write in an original voice and failing to the extent that he ruins whatever merrit the story may have. over indulgent, big words strung together in elementry fashion with no purpose.