Until his recent death, David Foster Wallace was a writer of rare talent and infinite potential. Infinite Jest is equal parts philosophical quest and screwball comedy and I'd highly reccommend it to any reader who might enjoy a unique approach to story-telling.
A book with an interesting concept that takes almost 1000 pages where 500 probably would have been fine. Perhaps others will be entertained by the scattershot narrative, but it just doesn't tie together enough for me.
This is one of the most amazing books I've ever read. A difficult read for sure...and don't skip the end notes! There are ideas in this book that are still with me today and probably coming true as we speak. The book is written in so many voices, and reads a lot like we experience life...in odd, seemingly unrelated bits....but as I read on I made connections and the story "became". There's several stories going on actually but they do intersect. A book I'd love to read again but not sure if I'd make it through. Non-linear, and both serious and funny. All this written by a 20-something genius. I give it a 5 star rating. Not for the faint of heart readers. It is not a casual read, but it's excellent.
The novels Pynchonesque elements...feel rather willed and secondhand. They are impressive in the manner of a precocious childs performance at a dinner party, and, in the same way, ultimately irritating: they seem motivated, mostly, by a desire to show off.
I am not the sort who normally starts reading a book and is unable to finish it. In fact, I can think of only two books I've attempted to read that have caused me to throw up my hands in frustration and give up.
Well, this is the third.
The quote on the cover calls it a 'surprisingly readable tour de force'. I've heard this book praised as a classic of the last 20 years or so. Yeah, sorry, I gotta beg to differ. I couldn't even make 100 pages in before giving up.
The story is composed primarily of huge chunks of descriptive text with run-on sentences filled with words that make me think that the author is trying to show off the extent of his vocabulary. Yet at the same time he includes 'like' in these sentences constantly in the way a teenager would talk, and the writing could seriously use some of those things known as 'commas' that are generally inserted into sentences to make them easier to read.
More confusing, the author uses frequent abbreviations/shorthand - stuff like 'km' for kilometers, and 'w/' instead of with - seriously?! In a novel? It feels like I'm reading someone's first draft instead of a completed, edited, and published novel.
The book itself starts off with an interesting opening scene - a guy applying to college who is a supposed genius tries to explain why he should be allowed to attend and only gobbledegook comes out of his mouth - was promising. But then you are shifted into so many other seemingly unconnected other stories that you are quickly disappointed. Supposedly, Wallace is a 'genius' when it comes to writing realistic dialogue. I've heard him praised as such many times. It would've been nice to actually see this, but the first hundred or so pages of this book contained maybe five of dialogue, hidden amongst walls of text.
OH, and don't even get me started on the ridiculous and utterly unnecessary addition of footnotes. Terry Pratchett makes them funny, this guy just makes them tedious.
From Publishers Weekly
With its baroque subplots, zany political satire, morbid, cerebral humor and astonishing range of cultural references, Wallace's brilliant but somewhat bloated dirigible of a second novel (after The Broom in the System) will appeal to steadfast readers of Pynchon and Gaddis. But few others will have the stamina for it. Set in an absurd yet uncanny near-future, with a cast of hundreds and close to 400 footnotes, Wallace's story weaves between two surprisingly similar locales: Ennet House, a halfway-house in the Boston Suburbs, and the adjacent Enfield Tennis Academy. It is the "Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment" (each calendar year is now subsidized by retail advertising); the U.S. and Canada have been subsumed by the Organization of North American Nations, unleashing a torrent of anti-O.N.A.N.ist terrorism by Quebecois separatists; drug problems are widespread; the Northeastern continent is a giant toxic waste dump; and CD-like "entertainment cartridges" are the prevalent leisure activity. The novel hinges on the dysfunctional family of E.T.A.'s founder, optical-scientist-turned-cult-filmmaker Dr. James Incandenza (aka Himself), who took his life shortly after producing a mysterious film called Infinite Jest, which is supposedly so addictively entertaining as to bring about a total neural meltdown in its viewer. As Himself's estranged sons?professional football punter Orin, introverted tennis star Hal and deformed naif Mario?come to terms with his suicide and legacy, they and the residents of Ennet House become enmeshed in the machinations of the wheelchair-bound leader of a Quebecois separatist faction, who hopes to disseminate cartridges of Infinite Jest and thus shred the social fabric of O.N.A.N. With its hilarious riffs on themes like addiction, 12-step programs, technology and waste management (in all its scatological implications), this tome is highly engrossing?in small doses. Yet the nebulous, resolutionless ending serves to underscore Wallace's underlying failure to find a suitable novelistic shape for his ingenious and often outrageously funny material.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.