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)
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 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 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).
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 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
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 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 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.
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!
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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