Faced with mindless duty, when an audio book player slips into a rear pocket and mini buds pop into ears, old is made new again.
“Infinite Jest” is an excruciating story of a closely examined life. Great credit is earned by the original publisher. To complete “Infinite Jest’s” stream-of-consciousness journey is an arduous task. It is too long. As one of Wallace’s characters says, I hear you but the explanation has “too many words”.
Every created character is a part of who David Foster Wallace is or wants to be. Wallace’s self-absorption, destructive behavior, and vulnerability seep from every ink-stained page; from every enunciated sentence. His “Infinite Jest” becomes real and complete with his wasted suicide at age 46.
“Infinite Jest” is about addiction. “Infinite Jest” argues that modern civilization is jaded by plenty. Movies, pornography, drugs, and other distracting entertainments are so plentiful that escape from trials of life becomes the purpose of life. Human success is redefined. Escape from conflict replaces drive for money, power, and prestige. Obsessive/compulsive behavior focuses on immediate gratification.
No question,“Infinite Jest” is a brilliant piece of work. However, it is David Foster Wallace’s “one percenter’s” view of life. This is a sad, depressing story because Wallace trivialized his life by committing suicide. If society is addicted to entertainment then Wallace infers suicide is a harbinger of the future. This is a myopic view of humanity but a true story of a closely examined life.
This is a great title that sounds better spoken than it looks on page.
However, Infinite Jest contains nearly 400 footnotes that convey invaluable plot information. The audiobook does NOT contain these, although it does contain references to them. This means that this audiobook is an excellent companion to the text, but you WILL NOT understand the narrative if attempt to only listen to this audiobook, while never purchasing the text and checking the footnotes.
The way I did it, Infinite Jest's 1000+ pages of 8 point font with no white space on the page is awful hard to make it through. Listening to the audiobook greatly sped up what would have been a six month reading project. Alternate this with reading.
I joined Audible specifically to get this book. I had attempted to read it for several years but just couldn't commit. I found it very easy to listen to, and would catch up on the footnotes every couple of days. Some of the footnotes were critical to me following the story, so I am glad I took the time to read them.
This book was above my head, and I am sure I missed things that I might catch if I listen again (and again), but the story and characters are so complex I LOVED what I did get. The detail, the description of addiction and recovery-amazing!
Probably the most beautiful book I have ever been exposed to, I can't recommend it enough.
-I'd also like to mention that I thought the narrator was awesome. Character distinction without distraction-bravo!
I thought the performance by Sean Pratt was just excellent. He made each character come alive (with, for example, different voices even for the characters that didn't have obvious accents). I looked for other fiction titles by this reader.
I also liked the way that footnotes were dealt with compared to the alternative of inserting them in a different voice. It's never going to be perfect, dealing with footnotes, because some readers read each footnote right when it appears, some never read them, and others catch up on them periodically. I can see how this would not be ideal for fastidious or visually impaired listeners, but for a listener like me, who would go to the footnotes periodically while reading, this setup was perfect.
The book itself I enjoyed enough to reread in print. I am catching a lot more of the humor this way--already familiar with the characters and more patient with the footnotes--but the more touching, emotional aspects of the book were well conveyed in audio. I would recommend the audiobook to the any reader who tried and failed to "get through" Infinite Jest in print. The audio was a pleasure to listen to for the full 56+ hours, which is saying a lot.
Yes, I liked this story. It made me laugh. It made me weep. I sent gift copies to people I love, and I sent a copy to someone I hate. They deserved it. I think some of the best stories might for instance be set in a tennis school, or at AAmeetings. I sure learned a lot about depression and drugs and stuff, as well as lots of new words like "annular" and ummmm, Annular and well yes, annular. Plus some others.
This story was interesting for me because I could listen to it. It was like being told a story, or like my big brother who I look up to, not hitting me with a tennis ball, kind of bouncing it on my head, over and over and telling me that he thinks post modern is over and we are now definitely post post modern and that we should all be playing virtual eschaton and watching out that we don't get too clinically depressed because if we do, we will become addicted to reading very long novels where the author makes fun of us for reading what he writes before he takes his own life, to show us he meant what he said about it being all one big joke. Seriously!
At 56 hours, I heard a guy down the valley couldn't stop and perished of dehydration. So I always keep a glass of Gatorade next to me just in case I get too engrossed.
Dear David. Thank you. We will miss you.
At the top, except for the frustration over having to run to the book to read the endnotes.
He captured Wallace's narration voice and every character's voice perfectly. This is probably the greatest performance of a book I've ever listened to (and I've listened to about a hundred).
Both, and it made me curse every time I missed an endnote.
Anyone willing to listen to 56 hours of this wouldn't mind listening to another 10 in order to hear all the endnotes. I think it was a terrible mistake not to include them. Other than that, this is one of the greatest books ever written, and one of the greatest performances by a reader.
To put it simply, DFW can have a book this long. As long as it is, it tugs at you. It calls you to return to it, because he was that good.
This isn't the sort of book your read for plot. And, if and when you finish it, see if you can figure out the plot. There are plenty of stories out there, this one is essentially made up of memorable vignettes.
All of them. He made the book a 50+ hour 1 man play. Outstanding.
DFW writes about depression in a way that can break your heart. He's also got some of the funniest lines I've ever read, ever.
Holy beautiful super long, deservedly long, hilarious, insightful, thoughtful, total genius, crazy lovely sadness. Thank goodness the audio exists as many more will be able to spend that much time with the sorely missed DFW.
This isn't the madness of Pynchon nor the ... This is DFW.
Give him a try. He may surprise you.
The recording has too much bass so the words are not distinct or lively. I had to stop listening while driving since it was not conducive to being alert.
No follow up book when the author has deceased please.
I love the interweaving plot and fragmented story lines that seem so disparate at first, but come kertwanging together and back apart again. I love Mario. I love Don. I feel sad for Hal and Orin. I feel disgust for Lenz; sympathy for Bruce Green and Joelle vD. The characters are so much more poignant than the backdrop of political ONAN-ism (hard to reflect on this pun without eyerolling and smiling begrudgingly). Though the plot is nuanced and good, the characters are just so real and sad they distract from the overly long "outcropping over Tucson" digressions. I identified really hard with the addiction recovery parts of the book at Ennet House. And the strive for excellence parts of ETA. I'm not an addict of an illicit substance, nor a recovering one. I'm just in this like everyone else; my addictions are pedestrian and largely livable. Striving to occur as the inner part of myself that is earnest, honest, and feeling.
I read IJ the first time in huge paperback form. It took me 18 months.This time, I wasn't burdened by needing to lug around not only IJ, but a dictionary as well. In the meantime I read DT Max's biography of the author.This provided much needed context to this work. I also read the DFW Reader; this was what drove me to getting back to IJ.
What do I love most about Infinite Jest? I love how f-ing real the whole thing is. I love that it made it laugh; it made me cry. It made me feel and think. It made me realize that these are equally important phenomena. It made me realize that no matter how smart I think I am, I am much less smart than that. It taught me that people can be sad in different ways. It taught me that the power of entertainment and addiction are not to be f-ed with.
I'm not well-read enough to have a literary comparison off the top of my head.I would compare IJ to Pulp Fiction. The narrative structure and flow are similar, though the content is entirely dissimilar. The Tarantino-esque structure could credibly be called Wallacian if it weren't for chronology. IJ takes PF to the max, adding like 20 additional characters whose backstories are not at all ignored.
He has great voices for the myriad characters. To provide context, the best narrator I've heard is Jim Dale in the Harry Potter series (I'm betraying my age here). I would say on a scale from 1 to Jim Dale, Sean Pratt is a solid 9.5. Some of his voices are silly, but only for minor characters. He animates the text extremely well.
Mario - I love his conversations with family and everyone at ETA.
Himself - What would IJ be without J.O. Incandenza? I love his films.
Don - What a great guy that Don Gately.
Joelle - So like, what's with the veil?
Kate Gompert - so sad.
Lyle - he's a great person to talk to about stuff like this.
It is so hard to choose. DFW does a bang-up job making you care about so many people that are so utterly damaged. (perhaps I use "so" as an adjective too much; I'll start using "super" more often). I can tell you that I hated Lenz. I hated Geoffrey Day. I didn't care for Orin. Despite being polite and well-spoken, Avril made me exceedingly uncomfortable.
The endnotes thing is a little inconvenient, but I completely agree with the audio preface that it would be exceedingly difficult to find a non-annoying way to handle these. Audible would need to be on board to create an interface that makes the endnotes palatable in audio form.