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)
Do you read the book before you dislike my reviews?
When I was asking my friends on what I should read next, they suggested "Infinite Jest" by David Foster Wallace. When the book was first published in 1996, the audio version wasn't available and to be honest, I was having too much fun in the 90's to be reading. I remembered seeing this author in interviews and wanting to dive in this book. Fast forward to the present day, I finally got through this book and this is the best title that I've read thus far in the year. David Foster Wallace's humor is my taste of comedy, but his story about addiction and depression is profound.
I've read many books on addictions and how they overcame their problem by taking the steps, and even though the story of "Infinite Jest" is fictional, the characters seems to be more realistic with their addictions and depressions. If you are reading this review and thinking that this book is just all about addictions, I'm not doing justice to the novel.
Addiction is just one part of the story in "Infinite Jest." Somehow, the author incorporated most of the seven deadly sins through his characters. The sins aren't obvious while you are reading, but they should come to you once you get through the entire story. I'm not going to give examples from the book because I don't like to give spoilers, but DFW is a remarkable author.
It took me less than two weeks to finish the book. 56 hours went by quickly. Many of my friends said that it took them a long time to get to the last page. You really should form a group together to discuss each "Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment." It will help you decipher each chapter and it is the best way to understand DFW's writing.
While I was reading, my friends and I would have discussions of each main parts of the story and it helped me comprehend the entire concept better.
One of my friends mentioned that David Foster Wallace's storytelling is not linear with the traditional storyline. I happen to agree with her and compare his writing to David Mitchel in "Cloud Atlas." Both of their styles are similar to each other and want to draw me more to their other titles.
I don't remember characters' names in any books that I read. My mind doesn't pay attention to names. I see characters as figures on a spreadsheet, like A, B, C, and so on. In "Infinite Jest," the characters' actions are so bizarre that you can't forget where you left off.
There is one major flaw in the audio version. The endnotes aren't included in the audio and I can see why the publisher omitted them out. They are included in a pdf, but trying to listen to the story and scrolling through 98 pages of notes is hard to do.
Luckily, the listener can purchase the endnotes separately in audio. I will be listening to them after I finish this review because they are the most important part of the story.
This year is almost over and I've read my fair amount of titles, but "Infinite Jest" is what I was looking for to break up the same repertoire of subjects in my library.
I would recommend "Infinite Jest" to anyone where your thought bubbles are in a disarray like mine.
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)
Listening to Infinite Jest is an experience of hearing the work of a virtuoso performer. These 900+ pages include four-page paragraphs (3000 words) which Pratt reads in a way that keeps them engaging and fresh from beginning to end. The same can be said about his reading of the entire novel.
His accomplishment can't be fully appreciated without reading a few pages of the text while he performs it. I find myself listening to random selections from the download two or three times, and I enjoy listening to the words and sentences without concern about how the fit into something larger. I don't think I've ever done this with another book.
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 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).
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.
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.
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.
The book is wonderful. The reader is masterful. The endnotes are not there. Unless you count the pdf files. I listen to audiobooks while I work, which does not afford me the luxury of being able to stop and read each endnote as they occur in the book.
I am not a scholar of Infinite Jest. If these were your average endnotes I wouldn't care that they were missing. I listen purely for entertainment. But the endnotes are a huge part of this book. Who ever thought to remove them made a big big mistake.
I still enjoyed the book. But I'd recommend NOT buying it until this endnote fiasco is resolved.
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.
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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