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Editorial Reviews

"Pratt is a startlingly good narrator, dry and expressive, with the kind of vocal control that evokes dozens of characters with only slight but very distinctive variations of accent and affect.... Pratt hears the humor in Wallace's work, and lets you in on the joke without resorting to overheated wackiness. His control and stamina are impressive." (John Schwartz, The New York Times Book Review)

Publisher's Summary

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

Critic Reviews

“[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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Thought Bubbles

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.

33 of 36 people found this review helpful

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If only Infinite Jest went on infinitely!

Would you consider the audio edition of Infinite Jest to be better than the print version?

YES! DFW's language is deep and complex and having it read to you adds an element of reality and drama to the characters that truly expand one's ability to enjoy this amazing literary achievement.

Any additional comments?

This book is one of the best books I have ever read in my life. As a bookworm approaching 50, that is a large pool in which this tome dominates. First, true confessions: it took me three tries over three years to finally be able to enjoy this book. It is very difficult. First, the sentence structure, language and vocabulary are all challenging. But really, the difficulty lies in the fact that the book is kind of about.... nothing. Yup. Nothing. Well, not really NOTHING. It's about a lot of things! It's about addiction. It's about tennis. It's about family (OK, dysfunctional families). It's about love. Like all great books, it is ultimately about life itself - the gist of it, the melancholy chaos out of which we each seek sense and relevance. It's even about a future where Canada and the U.S have merged, to the distress of the Canadians. But really, the plot arc is so complex that it's rather dilute, and hooking on to a compelling plot amidst language, run on sentences and endless footnotes makes the book feel like it's about nothing. But it's NOT! It's about all the things I mention above and more. It's about Wallace's genius - with words, description, the human condition. It's about you, the reader, and your ability to weep with Mario, ache with the exhausted tennis kids, and soar with Gately. I can't really give a great synopsis of the book as it's complex and long. But I can say this: if you read this book, you will love it. There can be no other outcome.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

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*broken record* Footnotes!

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)

31 of 36 people found this review helpful

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Have actual book handy

What made the experience of listening to Infinite Jest the most enjoyable?

I had already read the book, but knew that there was more to enjoy. Audible did the trick.

What did you like best about this story?

Please, ask me which of my children I prefer. It would be easier.

Which character – as performed by Sean Pratt – was your favorite?

Pratt did an amazing job with this very complicated book.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Let's not ruin the book by letting Hollywood have its way with it.

Any additional comments?

In a very imperfect world, this book comes very close to perfect

33 of 39 people found this review helpful

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Great Writing/Wonderful Story Telling

"The Pale King" was my first exposure to the writing of David Foster Wallace and I liked it.
Most reviews of "Infinite Jest" on Audible complained a great deal about not having the "footnotes", several claiming that, without them, the book was not worth listening to. But, I took a shot, anyway. And I was blown away. Sean Pratt's narration may have been the key to my enjoyment. His delivery made music of Wallace's words. Of course, the plot wanders and the characters are multitude and their narratives come flying abruptly out of left field and it seems like no plot thread is ever tied up, ever. And, It takes some time and mental gymnastics to see the fabric of the story(s). But the overall effect, for me, was brilliant. In this case, an American masterpiece of the spoken word. As good a collaboration of author and narrator is I've ever heard. It ended far too soon. I don't know if I would have been able to read it and feel the same. .

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Pratt's reading is virtuoso performance

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.

17 of 21 people found this review helpful

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Tour De Freaking Force

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."

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Not the same as reading it-but pretty damn amazing

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes. For people who don't have the time but could listen in the car on a long commute or at the gym, working around the house, etc. it is the next best thing to reading it. This narrator is excellent.

What does Sean Pratt bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

I can't imagine a more difficult piece of fiction to narrate. Between the accents, the awkward grammar and page long sentences, it is a beast. Pratt's range is superb and he is so consistently on point in his interpretation. This is not a book someone can just robotically read aloud... even Wallace himself didn't like reading his own work out loud.

If you could take any character from Infinite Jest out to dinner, who would it be and why?

Mario because I love him.

Any additional comments?

Pratt's voice is so distinctive for me now as the voice of Infinite Jest. I recognized him reading a Tim Keller book and it kind of disturbed me. Lol.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

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Dave Wallace Rulez

I love Dave Wallace he rocks my socks rest in peace Dave foster Wallace RiP

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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One of my favorite audiobooks

The narrator, Sean Pratt, is excellent for this story. Even though the sentences can get very long and meandering, he speaks with such a casual rhythm that it becomes very easy to understand. The voices and dialects are also very believable and consistent. Besides the performance, this book is fantastic in its own right. Everyone should read it or listen to it at least once. Since its such a long book, I think listening is the best option along with reading the endnotes separately (since its not included in audio).

The book is thought provoking, and uncomfortable at times. It confronts the gruesome reality of the pursuit of pleasure and happiness and success as being all of one nature, a possibly obsessive drive.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • pedersen.nyegaard@wanadoo.dk
  • 12-07-12

Almost perfect

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • clive
  • 01-23-13

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Alison
  • 04-14-13

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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  • tom
  • 08-23-17

infinite trip

a gargantuan piece of american literary prose, at times it takes you with it to places you would never expect at others it will totally leave you behind. the language is thorough, beautiful, descriptive and at times totally erratic. There are moments so well represented that you feel yourself drawn into the story. it's deeply sad, deeply troubling and in the end i found myself thinking, what exactly did i just listen to, what was that.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-25-17

Genius who needed a better editor

Great book in a circuitous, fractured, imperfect, frustrating way. Might read it again. well see.

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  • Bernd
  • 06-15-17

mixed bag

be prepared for massive amount of details.
started to enjoy it halfway through.
disappointed by the end.

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  • Alex
  • 05-26-17

Fascinating and captivating view into the present

Incredible book, must be read with an open mind and a lot of spare time. The book being written several decades ago takes an interesting stab into what the future would be like, it is interesting to read today as their future at the time is our present.

The book is great at jumping between insane drama to zany yet incredibly witty comic relief, it makes you feel intelligent just by understanding the jokes.

Highly recommend reading the book over listening to the audiobook as there are hundreds of footnotes to refer to, I however listened to the audiobook and still understood the story without reference to the footnotes, some story was lost I'm sure but still an incredible journey.

A must read for any 20 something's

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  • Christian O'Brien
  • 09-16-16

Changed me

Incredible performance by Pratt. I am simply not good enough at reading (neither are you!) to make it through IJ with any kind of clarity.

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  • Rachel
  • 07-16-16

Fantastic

The best audio book I have ever listened to. Will never forget the experience Suspect its much more accessible in audio. Do it do it do it!!

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  • Stuart
  • 05-11-16

Don't know why it's so famous.

Good narration apart from occasional Irish accent. But the story was just long and rambling.