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The Broom of the System: A Novel | [David Foster Wallace]

The Broom of the System: A Novel

At the center of The Broom of the System is the betwitching (and also bewildered) heroine, Lenore Stonecipher Beadsman. The year is 1990 and the place is a slightly altered Cleveland, Ohio, which sits on the edge of a suburban wasteland-the Great Ohio Desert. Lenore works as a switchboard attendant at a publishing firm, and in addition to her mind-numbing job, she has a few other problems. Her great-grandmother, a one-time student of Wittgenstein, has disappeared with twenty-five other inmates of the Shaker Heights Nursing Home.
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Publisher's Summary

The "dazzling, exhilarating" (San Francisco Chronicle) debut novel from the best-selling author of Infinite Jest, available for the first time as an audiobook.

At the center of The Broom of the System is the betwitching (and also bewildered) heroine, Lenore Stonecipher Beadsman. The year is 1990 and the place is a slightly altered Cleveland, Ohio, which sits on the edge of a suburban wasteland-the Great Ohio Desert. Lenore works as a switchboard attendant at a publishing firm, and in addition to her mind-numbing job, she has a few other problems. Her great-grandmother, a one-time student of Wittgenstein, has disappeared with twenty-five other inmates of the Shaker Heights Nursing Home. Her beau (and boss), editor-in-chief Rick Vigorous, is insanely jealous. And her cockatiel, Vlad the Impaler, has suddenly started spouting a mixture of psychobabble, Auden, and the King James Bible, which may propel him to stardom on a Christian fundamentalist television program.

Fiercely intelligent and entertaining, this debut novel from one of the most innovative writers of our generation explores the paradoxes of language, storytelling, and reality.

©2004 David Foster Wallace (P)2010 Hachette

What the Critics Say

"Daring, hilarious... a zany picaresque adventure of contemporary America run amok." (The New York Times)

"Wonderful... a cathartic experience with lots of laughs and lots of deeper meanings." (The Washington Post Book World)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.7 (117 )
5 star
 (37)
4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Overall
3.8 (69 )
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2 star
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1 star
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4.3 (64 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Darwin8u Mesa, AZ, United States 04-18-12
    Darwin8u Mesa, AZ, United States 04-18-12 Member Since 2011

    A part-time buffoon and ersatz scholar specializing in BS, pedantry, schmaltz and cultural coprophagia.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Evidence I WASTED my College years."

    I sure wasted a lot of time in college is all I can say. All in all, not a bad PoMo novel from a undergraduate senior thesis. Some ideas didn't seem to be finished, or put away, but that also seems to be a familiar theme in DFW's work. Not my favorite DFW, but I'd still prefer most days to read mediocre DFW to good/great anyone else.

    14 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Allan Los Angeles, CA, United States 06-13-11
    Allan Los Angeles, CA, United States 06-13-11 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    42
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    "what just happened"

    This is one of the few audiobooks that had me laughing out loud again and again, yet if I had to explain the story as a narrative and the ultimate meaning of it, I would feel like I was wrong in some way. The relentlessly articulate language is refreshing and enjoyable much of the time but it took some time for me to figure out the essence of the story. The characters are in some ways extremely sad but often hilarious, and again, relentlessly articulate. The book seems saturated with social commentary, some of which is hilarious and some of which is somewhat biting and perhaps melancholy. The setting seems to be a parallel present day in an Ohio of an alternate universe. I highly reccomend this.

    13 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Frank IL 12-15-13
    Frank IL 12-15-13 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A pretty good book, but still something missing"

    This is a really funny book, and there were some really beautiful moments in it, and really, really good characters. I liked it, for the most part, but I really did become invested in Lenore and the whole plot of the book, and I felt really disappointed with such an unclear ending.

    David Foster Wallace seems like a wonderful and talented writer, especially for a dude of his age when he wrote this book, but I wish, for a book that has such a wonderful plot and compelling characters, there was just a little less philosophizing and intentional ambiguity and just a little more plot development / resolution.

    The narrator, though, does a wonderful job. His reading really brings out the magic of David Foster Wallace's text. When you're just reading the language alone on the page, it's easy to miss how overtly funny lines are like, "'...' said Candy Mandible."

    Robert Petkoff really brings all the characters to life really well. Over the last week while I've been reading / listening to the book, I've been quoting different things over and over to myself like, "Jesus shall not want," or, "Special-wecial food," and saying character names like, "...said Peter Abbot," and besides the extremely well named characters, I feel like it's the narration that really makes the book come alive and brings out all the best parts of it.

    This is especially true with lines that get repeated throughout the book. I'm not nearly as visually oriented as I am auditory, so when things come up like Dr. Jay saying, "Batter," and "Batter," over and over and over while he's wearing the gas mask, or while Lenore is reading to her regular Grandmother, and she keeps saying, "Roughage," again and again, the narration lets me get so much more into the rhythm of the story and made it very much more enjoyable.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lauren Chicago, IL, United States 12-04-11
    Lauren Chicago, IL, United States 12-04-11 Member Since 2011

    I guess I'm a baby...I just love to be read to.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Wallace = Hard to Follow"

    David Foster Wallace...what a strange dude he was. If you like books that jump around from character to character and year to year then you will really like this. I generally like that format but for me there was a little too much, 'wait what's going on?' with each jump. The narrator is very good though.

    5 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    H. Segal Ithaca 10-23-13
    H. Segal Ithaca 10-23-13 Member Since 2013

    Cornell Faculty

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    "A brilliant first novel - and a superb reading"
    If you could sum up The Broom of the System in three words, what would they be?

    brilliant, satiric, manic


    What did you like best about this story?

    DFW's first novel, began when he was in graduate school, is a rocket-charged satire of sex, gender politics, and American culture, that manages to create emotional suspense and poignant moments despite its broad humor.


    Have you listened to any of Robert Petkoff’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    My first time listening to Robert Petkoff, but this is for me the best reading of any of the Audible books I've bought so far.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    yes.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Annie Buellton, CA, United States 12-07-11
    Annie Buellton, CA, United States 12-07-11 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Awk!"
    What made the experience of listening to The Broom of the System the most enjoyable?

    Robert Petkoff did a spectacular job. I even liked the singing. Wonderful.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Listening.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    That it lingers like one big long scene in my mind.


    If you could take any character from The Broom of the System out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    The author, may he rest in peace.


    3 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karen M. McGrady Peachtree City, GA United States 03-11-12
    Karen M. McGrady Peachtree City, GA United States 03-11-12 Member Since 2001
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    "Confusing and Boring"

    The only redeeming quality about this book was the narrator, some interesting character names (like Peter Abbott...which sounds like Peter Rabbit, and Judith Prieth - Judas Priest, etc), and a parrot who starts repeating everything it hears. Other than that, it's not worth the many hours it takes to listen to it. I finally got through Part 1 and into Part 2 and have thought about giving up several times. This book jumps around so much that I have trouble following it and I'm wondering "what's the point?". I thought it was supposed to be about the disappearance of a bunch of elderly people from a nursing home. So far a minimal amount of time has been spent on that. It's mentioned periodically so you don't forget completely.

    I haven't finished this recording yet...I'm forcing myself to listen. Six chapters to go... I think I can... I think I can! But I don't really want to!

    3 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MARK Fleetwood, PA, United States 10-25-11
    MARK Fleetwood, PA, United States 10-25-11 Member Since 2010
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    "Pynchon wannabe falls short."

    Narration was superb, the story a neurotic piece of trash. A bad Woody Allen film in novel form. Save your credits for the real Thomas Pynchon!

    0 of 13 people found this review helpful
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