A gargantuan, mind-altering comedy about the Pursuit of Happiness in America set in an addicts' halfway house and a tennis academy, and featuring the most endearingly screwed-up family to come along in recent fiction, Infinite Jest explores essential questions about what entertainment is and why it has come to so dominate our lives; about how our desire for entertainment affects our need to connect with other people; and about what the pleasures we choose say about who we are.
Equal parts philosophical quest and screwball comedy, Infinite Jest bends every rule of fiction without sacrificing for a moment its own entertainment value. It is an exuberant, uniquely American exploration of the passions that make us human - and one of those rare books that renew the idea of what a novel can do.
Please note: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material, including endnotes, will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.
A Note from Hachette Audio
We are deeply honored to be the audio publisher of David Foster Wallace's works, and are keenly aware of the great responsibility that attends the privilege. We felt that it was important to make Infinite Jest accessible in the audio format as soon as we were able, and are gratified to find that there is an audience that has been waiting for just this occasion.
Some early listeners have been disappointed that the novel's endnotes are currently available only in text form, to be read. Choosing to include the endnotes as a downloadable PDF file, rather than as a recording by the narrator, was a difficult decision for all involved, and we debated different options at length before beginning production. The audio format allows us great opportunities to showcase Wallace's love of language and grammatical dexterity, to illuminate characters and their relationships, and to bring out some of the unique humor inherent in his work. However, there are also certain limitations to the format, and we needed let go of some of our preconceived notions about the form of Infinite Jest, as we must when we adapt any complex work to audio.
The compromise we ended up with was heavily influenced by practical concerns, especially those regarding the limitations of current technology. Because some of the endnotes are pages-long digressions, if we had them read in line with the main narrative, we would have run the risk of making the already complex story unfollowable for listeners. In the end, we decided the audiobook would flow best by having the endnotes indicated by number throughout the narrative by an additional narrator. However, we acknowledge that these choices may not work for all listeners. Accordingly, our future plans are to produce the endnotes as an additional, stand-alone audio piece.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.
©2006 David Foster Wallace (P)2012 Hachette
“[A]n exhilarating, breathtaking experience. This book teems with so much life and death, so much hilarity and pain, so much gusto in the face of despair that one cheers for the future of our literature.” (Newsday)
"[A] postmodern saga of damnation and salvation…resourceful, hilarious, intelligent, and unique.” (The Atlantic Monthly)
"[C]ompulsively entertaining… one of the big talents of his generation, a writer of virtuosic skills who can seemingly do anything.” (New York Times)
Have you heard of Yngwie Malmsteen? If you haven't, let me tell you a little about him. He's a guitar player from Sweden who's been around since the 1980's, and is regarded by many people as one of the best guitar players alive. There have been times when I watched his videos on Youtube and have considered chopping off one of my hands because of how he reminds me that I will never be as good as him. But what keeps Yngwie from the ears of the average listener, and my hands away from the butcher's block, is that all his songs sound kind of... boring. Sure, he can play fast, and he's got cool hair, but his song writing skills are a little lacking. There are no hooks, no interesting melodies, or groovy beats. Just ridiculous arpeggios played at face melting speeds.
David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest is kind of like that. Just like Yngwie, Wallace had an understanding of his craft that was incredible. Like Yngwie's lightning-fast fingers, Wallace had a command over the English language that I'll NEVER have. The technical know-how of these two men over their respective crafts is mind-blowing.
However, just like Yngwie's song writing ability, I found David Foster Wallace's story telling ability to be lacking. When it comes to music most people would rather listen to Bob Dylan, who is, for the most part, a shit guitar player, but his songs are amazing! Similarly, I'd rather listen/read to someone like Stephen King, who's technical writing ability is fine, but his ability to tell a story far exceeds that of David Foster Wallace (IMO, of course).
I don't know. Listen to it if you've got a lot of time. Maybe it's better in written form.
No. Unless they really want to delve in to the addicted mind and psyche in which case it is probably worth reading - the author's insights into AA, addiction, and obsession are keen and thorough.
I think that a good book should not need two reads for basic things like understanding key details. If you do want to tackle this book read about it first. You'll enjoy it MUCH more. It wasn't until a third of the way through the book that I figured out what "Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment" meant - that it was a reference to a year the same as "2016" might be (I have no clue if that's the corresponding year) and not some descriptive marker in one of the character's lives.
The cultural setting should be introduced in a way that adds to the story and character development. Not so that it detracts from it. DFW leaves out crucial details until later in the story - details you NEED to understand when you START the story.
The other aspect of the book that I don't enjoy at all is that a good bit of the prose is, from what I can tell, the author more or less taking immense pleasure in his own wit and writing craft. Given that I am not an author myself, I can't really speak to this in too much detail except to say that I could sense when DFW was going into "self pleasure mode" vs. actually writing a book.
One of the key tenants of good literature, in my opinion, is that no part of it should be able to be removed without damaging the work. Some parts of this book could be removed, and the work would be improved. Omit ---- needless ---- words.
Footnotes. Ugh. f you do some research, you'll discover that the footnotes are key for understanding the work, and more importantly from what I've read, you should read the footnotes as you are reading the book.
If this is the case, then the footnotes should be read (perhaps by a different reader, say, for example, that woman that keeps interrupting us with footnote numbers) in line with the story itself. Doing so would certainly not detract from the story organization, since the whole thing is chaotically organized anyway.
Some aspects of the story reflect DFW's sense of humor, which I do not like. I don't particularly find the wheeled legless Canadian special agents all that entertaining. I think it's kind of stupid, personally.
The author gets some technical details so far wrong that it is distracting. For example, there is one scene where the sun casts a shadow across two figures over a city from a mountain. The author describes how the shadow of the figures grows and encompasses the whole city as the sun sets. Thats... uh... not at all how it works. The sun is bigger than a person, just a bit, and a person does not at all cast a shadow on a city any more than a small satellite that passes in front of the sun occludes the earth. Details like that, which are missed, are distracting.
Lastly, the story is predictable. I had read about some kind of surprise ending. I found it to be totally predictable in pretty much every way after about a third of the way into it. The plot is unimaginative in this regard.
Yes, the reader was great.
Ugh. It would be SO depressing.
Do not read this book unless you might enjoy diving into depression, addiction, loneliness, depravity, and unless you have a deep love of well crafted but otherwise useless sentences.
I would recommend this to anyone who has already read the book, the lack of end notes takes away so much of the humor and plot nuances that I would be hard pressed to send a new reader to this audiobook, though.
One of many reasons IJ was difficult for me is the anachronistic chapter order and quick changes in tone. Where this audiobook excels is at being able to switch gears immediately between a chapter that describes in such agonizing detail the nervy feeling of withdrawal then switching to an amusing recount of a robbery gone wrong which in reading the book I had difficulty switching my mental voice fast enough to a chipper shade after being taken so low to find the humor in there. Some of the more difficult chapters (for me) were the soliloquies like Hal's gran'pa discussing the end of his tennis career with Himself or the early Ebonics ridden chapter about Wardine which are done very, very well and make these much easier to navigate and parse for plot points (I am surprised at the low narrator scores actually) and the Steeply/Marathe conversation, which despite being a perfectly natural conversation was hard to read naturally in my head (I tend to struggle reading things written in any dialect and we will consider 'drunk' a dialect).On the downside, keeping track of the chronology is tougher in audio form and lack of footnotes is painful (I bought the ebook and pause to flip over on my iPod to read the notes because I am nerdy that way).
To repeat, great if you've read it before but lack of end notes is severely crippling to a lot of what the book has to offer if you are a first time reader (though i can see if you are hitting a wall with the novel how the audiobook could carry you through and make rereading the book a total rediscovery since you would have some idea of plot and be willing to stop and smell the roses).
He could have hired a competent editor. I'm all for long, in-depth explorations in novels, but this book has no discipline. I found myself constantly annoyed with his deliberate delaying tactics. Moreover, it feels like an poor homage to other authors, Joyce, Proust, Vonnegut, and Pynchon mostly, with none of the passion, humor, intellect, or insight of those other works.
Pratt, to me, is like a triple-A ball player. Sure, he has talent, but he's missing something in his performance. His character voices are particularly bad, each one sounding like an imitation of a person, not the person himself (and especially herself -- his females almost always give me the urge to switch to an NPR podcast). And his dialects are very sloppy, especially when he gets into the Canadians, which drift between Scottish, Irish, and something unidentifiable in origin.
I was hesitant about undertaking Infinite Jest as an audio book. I had read half of the book and was finding it difficult to pick it back up and read. I started over with the audio book and I'm glad I did. Having first read half of the book I was able to ease myself into listening to it. I wasn't sure that the epic scale of the "story" would be able to exist as an audio book, but it certainly did. I understand why the footnotes were left out for the sake of the "narrative" but I found it difficult switching back and forth between the print and the audio. I agree with some of the other reviews that the footnotes should exist as a separate audio track to be switched back and forth.
Despite my frustrations with the footnotes I think this book should be required reading (listening)
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.
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!
But I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - J.D. Salinger ^(;,;)^
1. This audiobook is not unabridged.
2. It has no endnotes.
3. Endnotes are an essential part of this novel.
4. Understand the difficulty of including endnotes in an audiobook, but alas, if you are going to call it unabridged, it better BE unabridged.
5. Not sure if DFW would have allowed the endnotes to be stripped.
9. A little irritated about 2 credits (and did I mention no endnotes?)
11. "The challenge in editing David Foster Wallace was the difficulty of wrangling his prose and narrative structure, which were often purposefully peripatetic and disjointed (in the best sense of the word), without disrupting the writing's pacing or diluting its effect, which Wallace intended as a numbing overload to the reader's faculties comparable to the overwhelming 'constant monologue inside your own head.'"*
13. "The following pieces were published in edited, heavily edited, or (in at least one instance) bowdlerized form." The "bowdlerized" piece, "Host," was about a right-wing radio personality, and Wallace was also frustrated by the abridgement of "Up, Simba," the story he wrote about John McCain's 2000 presidential campaign and, he insisted on publishing a web edition of his full article.**
14. There are options for including footnotes in audiobooks.
15. In 'Consider the Lobster' another DFW book the producer used a phone filter for footnotes (which ARE included).
16. Susanna Clarke's novel, "Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell" (Audio Renaissance), recorded footnotes.
17. There is a great New York Times piece on the challenges of footnotes and endnotes (and pictures and maps) in audiobooks***
18. The same New York Times piece has a great quote from DFW in reference to his endnotes: "Most poetry is written to ride on the breath, and getting to hear the poet read it is kind of a revelation and makes the poetry more alive. But with certain literary narrative writers like me, we want the writing to sound like a brain voice, like the sound of the voice inside of the head, and the brain voice is faster, is absent any breath, and it holds together grammatically rather than sonically."
19. Claudia Howard, in the same New York Times piece argues that an "audiobook is a monologue that should be kept intact".
20. Another part of the New York Times article referenced above in note 17, "So single-minded is Mr. Wallace, who is 43, about how his work looks over how it sounds that at his first public reading in the late 1980's, 'I inserted the punctuation,' he recalled, adding: 'I would read a clause and say 'comma' or 'semicolon.' Or I'd say, 'new paragraph' and 'indent.' Now looking back at it I can see what a silent deal this is for me.' At one point in 'Consider the Lobster,' Mr. Wallace encounters an ellipsis and reads "dot, dot, dot," which producers say is verboten. "Part of it is I'm not an actor and I don't know how to trail off, and I become somewhat autistic about it," he said."
21. There is a great example in this piece showing how DFW handled endnotes/footnotes.****
22. Cutting the Endnotes disrespects notes 23, 24, and 25.
I had already read the book, but knew that there was more to enjoy. Audible did the trick.
Please, ask me which of my children I prefer. It would be easier.
Pratt did an amazing job with this very complicated book.
Let's not ruin the book by letting Hollywood have its way with it.
In a very imperfect world, this book comes very close to perfect
I do not understand why Hachette Audio would undertake the monumental task of producing Infinite Jest as an audiobook and choose to omit the end notes. I have been looking forward to this audio release for some time and I am greatly disappointed by this decision. Infinite Jest is an important book and a LONG one and anyone interested in investing 56 hours in it, I can assure you, is interested in the end notes. I enjoy Sean Pratt as a narrator. I appreciate the work that went into recording this book, and I truly hope Hachette considers an updated release WITH END NOTES.
A treat. Brilliant reading of the most earth-shaking English prose in the last 30 (or more) years. David Foster Wallace is incomparable, and Sean Pratt's reading is dynamic and flexible - the only flaw being the end-notes which are not read, but which you have to read yourself (you receive a PDF-file when buying the audiobook). And yes, it's long, but it's well worth the time.
"Spectacular - don't be daunted"
This is what audiobooks are for - listening to great, daunting seeming books you'd never read. This book is spectacular. You can't expect to have the loose ends tied up, or to know what's going on half the time, but you can expect to be gripped and thoroughly entertained and to fall into a different world. Definitely worth listening to.
"A Real Epic!"
Downloaded this to listen to while I exercise and it's a real page-turner, so to speak! Definitely worth using a credit for, give it a go!
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