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Infinite Jest Audiobook

Infinite Jest

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Audible Editor 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

What the Critics Say

“[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 Rating

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  •  
    Amazon Customer 11-16-16 Member Since 2017
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    "A staggering performance of a complex book"

    Sean Pratt endures for almost 60 hours , giving each character a signature voice. Most impressive is the small little inflections and emphasis of particular words and passages he does which bring David Foster Wallace 's rant-like writing to light. Highly recommended.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
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    Bruce Rowe 10-12-16
    Bruce Rowe 10-12-16
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    "Always sad to finish reading a big book..."

    Boy...what a ride this novel is...great narrative and narration..?some passages of stunning beauty...often tragi-comic...highly recommended !

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brad 12-19-12
    Brad 12-19-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Serious end"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes, I liked this story. It made me laugh. It made me weep. I sent gift copies to people I love, and I sent a copy to someone I hate. They deserved it. I think some of the best stories might for instance be set in a tennis school, or at AAmeetings. I sure learned a lot about depression and drugs and stuff, as well as lots of new words like "annular" and ummmm, Annular and well yes, annular. Plus some others.


    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    This story was interesting for me because I could listen to it. It was like being told a story, or like my big brother who I look up to, not hitting me with a tennis ball, kind of bouncing it on my head, over and over and telling me that he thinks post modern is over and we are now definitely post post modern and that we should all be playing virtual eschaton and watching out that we don't get too clinically depressed because if we do, we will become addicted to reading very long novels where the author makes fun of us for reading what he writes before he takes his own life, to show us he meant what he said about it being all one big joke. Seriously!


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

    No.


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

    At 56 hours, I heard a guy down the valley couldn't stop and perished of dehydration. So I always keep a glass of Gatorade next to me just in case I get too engrossed.


    Any additional comments?

    Dear David. Thank you. We will miss you.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    pickabone 07-30-14
    pickabone 07-30-14 Member Since 2016

    chadlevinson

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    "But at least it's long"
    What could David Foster Wallace have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    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.


    What didn’t you like about Sean Pratt’s performance?

    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.


    6 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Everyday 10-12-15
    Everyday 10-12-15
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    "Can't continue"
    What disappointed you about Infinite Jest?

    I sought this out because it is so well loved. I got about 6 hours in and thought of 50 more hours of listening felt like work, or a task I had to finish. Audiobooks are a part of my every day commute, and for the next two weeks I found myself seeking out anything else to listen to other than returning to this book. I finally took that as a sign. Well written, but I'm just not interested. So, for only the second time in all the books I've listened to, I stopped.


    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    kiki Los Angeles, CA United States 03-04-15
    kiki Los Angeles, CA United States 03-04-15 Member Since 2015

    boudicca1

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    "DFW, Rolling In His Grave"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    See above: marketed as unabridged. This does not include the text in the footnotes. Are they serious? The preamble to the audiobook states that the text in the footnotes are not included. Instead, there is a woman's voice that will announce the number of the footnote. So then you can go to another source to obtain that text.*


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    I don't know. A good portion of the book, marketed as "unabridged," was not included.


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

    I don't know. A good portion of the book, marketed as "unabridged" was not included.


    What character would you cut from Infinite Jest?

    I don't know. A good portion of the book, marketed as "unabridged" was not included.


    Any additional comments?

    *I just saw a performance piece based upon the works of DFW in the 2015 Under the Radar festival at the Public in NYC, and somehow those people were able to include DFW's footnotes in the text. Whoa. Have a women not read the NUMBER of the footnote, but instead read the TEXT of the footnote.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ä Lalilu 10-22-12
    Ä Lalilu 10-22-12 Member Since 2010

    Passionate audio book listener

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    "Test Review - only for tech testing"

    This is only a test and shall not go live. This is only a test and shall not go live.

    9 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gary Las Cruces, NM, United States 05-14-17
    Gary Las Cruces, NM, United States 05-14-17 Member Since 2016

    l'enfer c'est les autres

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    "Firehouse burning down, e.g (=Irony)."

    Clearly one of the best fiction books ever. A wry humor permeates which made me smile throughout and from time to time laugh out loud. If your not laughing or smiling throughout most of the book, you probably won't finish it and you probably shouldn't. I once had a literature course where the teacher wanted us to write a 10 page report on how "Madame Bovary" changed my life, I couldn't do it. With this book I could and would love doing it.

    There's no way this book could be shorter. Every single section belongs in the book. If one were to skip a section, one would be losing some of the coherence that the book needs in order for it to hold together. It's easy after having read this book, to pick a section at random and understand fully why it was necessary to be in the book. That's a sign of a perfect work of art, nothing can be added that would make it better and nothing could be taken away from it that would not make it worse.

    At the core of all understanding through reason is paradox. Sometimes one must get on their knees by their bed and pretend to look for their lost shoes in order to discover God. (That example is in the book). The presence of the absence can be just as enlightening and meaningful as the absence of the presence. That is definitely a big theme within this book. Multiple times that theme is brought up. The dead air around Madame Psychosis' radio program, the author describing the movie where for 500 seconds the same phrase about 'murder' is repeated, and the author at that time mentions how sometimes within a work of art the presence must be explicit and thereby clearly justifying why this book has to be as long as it is. All of these thoughts are also within the writings of Soren Kierkegaard who does get mentioned in this book. In addition, Kierkegaard said that irony is jealous of authenticity. This author uses irony to get at the underlying truths that are hanging around but are only discover-able when we see their absurdities. We must use our passion and feelings to see through the crap that enshrines us. Sometimes we must see "a firehouse burn down" (a clue from the Sunday New York Times puzzle for 'irony') in order to understand what it is to be authentic to ourselves.

    All of the dots that make up all of the sections are connected for the reader within this book. After having read the book, I could open a random section and then explain why it's necessary to be in the book. There's a section that relates how one character's father started watching "MASH" and saw patterns and hidden messages explaining the real nature of truth about reality and the now. I think the author is hinting that one can always see patterns or hidden messages if one looks hard enough even when they are not there and is a warning to the reader not to over analyze this book. We commit two errors in pattern recognition: the type I error, connecting the dots when they shouldn't be connected such as when we see ghost or goblins when none exist which can be just as dangerous as our type II error, not seeing the connections when they are really there such as not seeing the lion when it is in the grass and therefore allowing the lion to attack us.

    By the way, the theme song to "MASH" is "Suicide is Painless". The author doesn't mention that. Suicide is a major character within this book. Yes, this book is about the human experience and why we love to exist and learn and must learn how to create our own world and how there is no way of knowing if we our doing it right, but nevertheless suicide is a big theme within this book. The girl who goes to the hospital after having tried to kill herself, explains why she must have EST (Electric Shock Treatment), and what she knows will happen if she doesn't. Our thoughts left alone can drive us mad and we don't always control them. Just as wrongly as not seeing the lion, we can commit the type I error and see patterns when none are there thus leading to madness. We seek out addictions or games or entertainment to distract us but sometimes we are not distracted enough and the madness overtakes us. Everyone seeks out distractions in order not to let the absurd nature of our situation engulf us. I hate suicide, but this book makes one understand it.

    The map is not reality. The symbols never are what is real. The "Eschaton" game of MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) described in the book is how we had to think in the 70s and with some spillover to the early 90s and shows what reification can lead to. The isolation of the individual from themselves and between others can lead to alienation even when we are with others. The book never lets up on explaining how the finite can be lost within the infinite.

    There is also the theme of the disable within this book. Be it people in wheelchairs oddly following a football player, or people hiding behind veils or Mario the disabled brother (him and Madame Psychosis were my two favorite characters). We all have something that makes us different. We are never normal. Normal never really exists because our experiences force us to make averages of previous instances in order to understand, and there really can never be an average family of 2.1 children and so on. Our instances from the past based on experiences weighted with our future expectations giving us our 'nows' which makes all of us not normal, or disabled in some sense.

    I seldom read fiction. It usually bores me because I think I could be doing something more useful with my time such as watching reruns of all the sitcoms that were mentioned in this book. This book and "Gravity's Rainbow are the exceptions. I liked "Gravity's Rainbow" slightly more than this book. It holds up better over time and has a different message about the human experience. GR is slightly more complex especially if you are not intimately familiar with the movies from the 1930s and 40s or don't fully understand what 1944 meant to the world. Also, Pynchon (the author of GR) understood science and mathematics and used that intimately within the book. Wallace drops mathematics and science terms within the book but doesn't fully expound on them (except when he speaks about drugs or addiction). Wallace gets how grammar and logic can be the same thing, and understands philosophy. Wallace puts a lot of the early 1990s into the story, the bigotry, the homophobia, the angst and our addictions. Thankfully, the world changed since the book was first published and at times some of the book has an anachronistic feel today.

    I was led to this book because my favorite movie of 2016, "Paterson" kept showing this book in the background on a bookshelf. I've recommend that movie to people, but after they had watched it they thought I must have been joking because they didn't see the movie the way I did. I'd be hesitant to recommend this book to others for the same reason. Most people probably won't see the significance of what was being said because of the complications of the layers inherent within the story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark B. 05-02-17
    Mark B. 05-02-17 Member Since 2012
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    "Incredible, though long listen"

    The narrator was absolutely wonderful and he helped make the book. Once the story got going it hard to stop listening to. It was almost always amazing and I never knew where it would take me. His descriptions of coming down from a heroin addiction are the most real and viscerally sickening descriptions I have ever heard. (And I am a criminal attorney of over 35 years who has represented and known many heroin addicts.) I hated to see the book come to a close, and have not listened to a better work of art or reading since I joined Audible 10 years ago.
    I wish there were a written index for these longer books (actually for all the audiobooks) especially because the original book was extensively footnoted, and I had no idea if I missed that material in the reading, or if it was somehow included.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    kurdis teed 04-25-17
    kurdis teed 04-25-17 Member Since 2017
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    "Listening to this is quite an experience"
    Would you listen to Infinite Jest again? Why?

    Yes, the story and the narration is excellent.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Too much to like to separate one single part of the story.


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

    James Incandenza


    If you could rename Infinite Jest, what would you call it?

    It's the perfect title for a book. You could never rename it


    Any additional comments?

    This is a form of entertainment that is better than television. The combination of DFW's prose and Sean Pratt's narration is so far above anything else I've heard on audiobook. I only wish I could find another audiobook close to this amazing. I've started a number of other audiobooks, but I'd rather just listen to this again. So the search continues.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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