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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

Critic Reviews

"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 listeners say about The Broom of the System

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

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.

18 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

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.

21 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

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.

5 people found this helpful

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Did not enjoy

Description of the book outlined an interesting scenario of elder people escaping from a nursing home. However, the book just touches this plot briefly once in a while. The rest is filled with neurotic people involved in some very strange circumstances that are neither coherent or interesting. I would not recommend this book.

1 person found this helpful

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What Am I Missing???

Except for a chuckle here & there I found nothing worthwhile in this book. Sorry David. I still might give Infinite Jest a whirl; you can thank SHAMELESS for that.

1 person found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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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.

8 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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DFW's Early Genius

Its an absolute tragedy that David Foster Wallace only left us with 3 novels. It is an absolute blessing that all of those novels each stand so proudly as prophetic contemporary literature.

The Broom of the System is all things: comedic, meditative, honest, and beautifully absurd. This audiobook version is a joy to listen to, and the narrator does excellent justice to the original work.

Whether you're considering this as an (easier) intro to Infinite Jest, or just needed more DFW after IJ, The Broom of the System is equally a good taste of what you loved (or soon will). Highly recommend, it certainly left me grinning wryly.

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  • D
  • 07-09-21

So Well Written

While the story was a very enjoyable surreal romp, the writing and the narration were superb. I will be reading more by DFW, and listening more to Robert Petkoff

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Genius!

Wonderful writing and performing! Mr. Foster Wallace 's creativity is unbounded. Four words remain to be included in this review...

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    5 out of 5 stars

An amazing performance by Robert Petkoff 👏

The narrator understood/appreciated the book. a fantastic performance of the characters and dialogue. thank you