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.
©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)
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).
A part-time buffoon and ersatz scholar specializing in BS, pedantry, schmaltz and cultural coprophagia.
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.
The best. Hands down.
There are too many.. PT Krause's withdrawal scene has to be one of the most intense scenes ever.
Honestly, I would say Pratt did a great job with pretty much all of them. It was a relief to hear his narration during some of the conversations, as I can imagine it would be harder to tell who was saying what at all times otherwise, given the dialogue structure. Also, given the ensemble cast of characters, having voices for each really helps with remembering / identification.
No. At over 56 hours + endnotes, I'd need at least a couple of breathers in there. I think to really take in everything (or most of... After taking a look at the IJ wiki, i still missed a lot) this novel has to offer, it's best to go for maybe a maximum of two hours or so at a time. Maybe that's just my attention span.. But really, it's not a book you want to rush through. To rush through to the ending would be to miss the point.
I feel as though there are a few quibbles that need to be addressed. Some of the audio queues for endnotes are missing. Particularly one section of the audio book.. I believe either section 4 or 5 has almost no notifications for end notes for a few hours, missing the upwards of 30 or so in a row. I don't believe that to be an exaggeration, but someone feel free to correct me if my numbers are off. I was actually reading along with the book in hand while listening (it helps me focus on books with this level of density.) so I was able to catch the missing end notes in time, but for other listeners, be wary. Also, as is to be expected with a book approx half a million words long (literally) there are a few changed words, and I did notice that a couple of sentences were omitted in entirety. They weren't crucial, but I did notice. Though, the physical copy of IJ that I own & was reading along with does have a few typos.. so I mean, I think it's almost unfair to expect perfection given the source material.That said I would still definitely give this audio book 5 stars, as it guided me through a book that I definitely would not have got quite so much out of otherwise. I plan to scan through the list of books Sean Pratt has narrated to see if there's anything else he's performed that I'm interested in, because he did such a phenomenal job with this one. Maybe he could take on A Naked Singularity? I'd love to hear his take on Delillo's Underworld or Danielewski's House of Leaves. (Other tomes I've yet to brave..)
I would not cut anything.
It is really awesome that you have made a audiobook of Infinite Jest. But leaving out the endnotes is a really bad choice as it makes this audiobook hard to listen. I can not stop and read a pdf file in a middle of a bike ride or car trip. You decision makes this audiobook unusable!
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 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.
My reviews are honest. No sugar coating here.
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 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 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)
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
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