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)
Thoroughly ascerbic examination of addiction, both chemical and otherwise, though and but with, like, a kind of conversational type delivery; at once circuitous, circumspect and striving.
Yeah. Ok. There's just not really any way to summarize or quickly describe the experience of listening to this audiobook. If you stick with it, you'll either find it to be one of the few life-changing literary experiences out there, or you'll want to kill everyone responsible for your spending 50 hours on a fool's errand. I'm in the former category. But you are you. Just remember-- "The truth will set you free. But not until it's done with you."
Fictional characters in narrative
Only a certain amount of jest can be gained from preoccupation with drug experience where the laughs tend to peter out, but there was definitely some writing talent shown at times, via authors observation, introspection, turn of phrase, directness, and yes of course from making jest of such lowered life,
though choosing substance use and abuse as one key subject makes jest come rather by default, as sitting ducks, shooting fish in a barrel, that kind of thing.
The story wasn't much, but the writing was better.
This is one of my favorite books of all time, and contrary to some of the other readers' perspectives, I thought the narration was very good--it's pretty incredible that one person could do such a broad range of characters.
Plusses of the Audible version: hearing the characters "acted" out can be helpful in understanding the sequence of action, the subtleties of interpersonal dynamics, etc. It's also pretty entertaining. Plus--who has time to read a 1000 page novel? This was nice to listen to on my morning runs, while getting ready in the morning, etc. (though I found that I coudn't listen while driving--as it required too much concentration ;). All in all--having this version accessible was an awesome treat!
Minuses of the Audible version: as other listeners have noted, it's VERY hard to keep track of the anachronistic plot with the audio version since you can't easily skip back to a certain portion and review what happened, etc. in order to make sense of what's going on in a particular scene. Also, this version is absolutely useless unless you have a copy of the endnotes to go with it--large parts of the plot simply wont make complete sense without them--as far as I'm concerned, this version is a tool for IJ readers, but not a substitute for having a paper/kindle version. Finally, at 56 hours of DENSE listening, this version took me months to get through--if you are a fast reader, expect this to take at least 2-4 as long as it would actually take you to read the book--and speeding it up isn't helpful unless you are paying super close attention to all of the myriad of details that the book covers in each sentence/paragraph/section.
I'll admit--at first, I hated the Audible version--it was so slow and hard to follow, but honestly, so is the book--it's only when you get going with it that it starts to really take off and things start to make sense and become interesting, so in this regard, having it narrated by someone with such a diverse range was really helpful for me :)
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 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!
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.
If it weren't for Audible I'd never get any reading done.
I waited a long time to read Infinite Jest since I depend heavily on audiobooks to keep up on my reading???I have a long commute, a busy job, kids, etc.???so I was very glad to see IJ become available. Having spent a month making my way through it with the audiobook AND a kindle version, reading every footnote, using Internet wikis to keep track of the story, exceptional vocabulary and references, I declare that I loved the book. It's a Ulysses for the 90's, combining erudition and a pop culture sensibility.
The reader does OK. He puts on some good Boston accents, but he's clearly no French speaker. There are some annoying edits inserted around the first half or so, as some producer clearly freaked out and made him correct the pronunciation of several French phrases and DFW's patented weird vocabulary. Still, give the poor bastard some credit--this must have taken him a month to record.
I understand the decision to leave out the footnotes, but it does seem like corner-cutting. If DFW were still alive, I bet he would have called for some clever compromise, such as putting the footnotes on a separate audio file in a different voice, or writing some comments for the reader to add, such as "That's just an explanation of the drug he's taking," or "Seriously, don't skip this one." Audiobook makers seem to forget that their products are performances like any other, and need not be a literal recitation treating the text as a sacred object.
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.
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.
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