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Infinite Jest  By  cover art

Infinite Jest

By: David Foster Wallace
Narrated by: Sean Pratt
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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.

"The next step in fiction...Edgy, accurate, and darkly witty...Think Beckett, think Pynchon, think Gaddis. Think." Sven Birkerts, The Atlantic

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.

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 listeners say about Infinite Jest

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    5 out of 5 stars

Removing Endnotes Does NOT Equal Unabridged!

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.
6. Frustrated.
7. Irritated.
8. Disquieted.
9. A little irritated about 2 credits (and did I mention no endnotes?)
10. Ibid.
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.'"*
12. Crap.
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.
23. Work
24. Author
25. Reader

216 people found this helpful

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I kept waiting for it to be great

Like a lot of people that decided to try taking this novel on, I was a fan of David Foster Wallace’s other work including his This Is Water speech. I had heard so much positive about this story, and since it was an ultra-long book, I wanted to, sort of, have bragging rights, I guess.

The story is, basically, 56 hours and 20 minutes of exposition. Without spoiling whatever could qualify as a spoiler in this book, it never reaches a climax or even a rising action, from my perspective. Hundreds of character introductions, but no characters I cared about except for Gately (at times). Long asides about the world that made sense to have a page about, but not chapters. I understand that world-building or detail can be important and fun, but I didn’t need 13 minutes of the rules of Eschaton.

It’s not an easy read, and seems to have, intentionally, confusing sentence structure and the vocabulary requires an English grad student to have a dictionary nearby.

Lastly, I’ll say that there were more subject-matter issues I had with the book. The way it described women, especially young girls, with heavy emphasis on their breasts and thighs without a mention of their name bothered me. The pervasive use of racial slurs by every character, including the narrator, throughout the novel really bothered me. The way rape scenes [plural!] were written using the same language as the “sexy” sex scenes REALLY bothered me. This book had more children get sexually abused than it had clever lines of dialogue.

I really wanted to love this book and be able to recommend it, but I cannot. I’m sorry to any Wallace fans, as I am still one, to a degree, but I really could not defend this book that many claim to be his Magnum Opus.

133 people found this helpful

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5.0 stars..... quite an experience

This story and the narration are both excellent. This audiobook is much different than any other I've encountered. If you are impatient, it's certainly not for you, but if you commit, there is a considerable payoff. The combination of DFW's prose and Sean Pratt's narration is pretty far above anything else I've heard on audiobook. The endnotes can be purchased separately for a few dollars, and this is probably the best route to go, unless you rather read them as you listen on pdf. All this seems complicated, and it is, at times. I normally don't enjoy overly complicated, tedious listens, and Infinite Jest seems overly complicated and tedious in the beginning, but once you get into the audiobook, it's not. You may be tempted to give up on this book early. Many have. It is definitely a slow starter, but if you stick with it, you'll be rewarded.

I don't listen to audiobooks more than once, but this one is the exception. I will certainly revisit it again in the future. It's truly a five star audiobook, though not for the casual listener.

112 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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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.

66 people found this helpful

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good if you already read the book.

Any additional comments?

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).

61 people found this 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

51 people found this helpful

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Brilliant Gut Punch

Incredible writing, and storytelling, with deeply realized characters spiraling up or down in tragicomic beauty. A masterwork, but tough going. Feels like a gut punch at times. Never boring but not for everyone. Tests your vocabulary, your stomach, and your heart.

46 people found this helpful

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  • RF
  • 09-15-15

Sure?

Any additional comments?

Have you heard of Yngwie Malmsteen? If you haven't, let me tell you a little about him. He's a guitar player from Sweden who's been around since the 1980's, and is regarded by many people as one of the best guitar players alive. There have been times when I watched his videos on Youtube and have considered chopping off one of my hands because of how he reminds me that I will never be as good as him. But what keeps Yngwie from the ears of the average listener, and my hands away from the butcher's block, is that all his songs sound kind of... boring. Sure, he can play fast, and he's got cool hair, but his song writing skills are a little lacking. There are no hooks, no interesting melodies, or groovy beats. Just ridiculous arpeggios played at face melting speeds.

David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest is kind of like that. Just like Yngwie, Wallace had an understanding of his craft that was incredible. Like Yngwie's lightning-fast fingers, Wallace had a command over the English language that I'll NEVER have. The technical know-how of these two men over their respective crafts is mind-blowing.

However, just like Yngwie's song writing ability, I found David Foster Wallace's story telling ability to be lacking. When it comes to music most people would rather listen to Bob Dylan, who is, for the most part, a shit guitar player, but his songs are amazing! Similarly, I'd rather listen/read to someone like Stephen King, who's technical writing ability is fine, but his ability to tell a story far exceeds that of David Foster Wallace (IMO, of course).

I don't know. Listen to it if you've got a lot of time. Maybe it's better in written form.

46 people found this helpful

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Could you make footnotes available in audioformat?

Would you try another book from David Foster Wallace and/or Sean Pratt?

Yes.

Would you be willing to try another one of Sean Pratt’s performances?

Yes.

What character would you cut from Infinite Jest?

I would not cut anything.

Any additional comments?

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!

46 people found this 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."

45 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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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 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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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 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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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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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-09-19

Didn’t grab me

Pretentious is on the tip of my tongue- but actually I’m sure it’s totally sincere- I just can’t relate. I gave it an hour- it’s just outside my sphere. Even though I wanted to get involved- lots of people I think very highly of think this book is inspired- but it’s either too hard or too far away for me. I’m exchanging it.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Nicholas Windmiller
  • 05-30-18

Wow

Wow don't know how I'm suppose to feel after that but I liked it. Good narrator as well.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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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 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • jdk
  • 05-17-22

Brilliant

What can I say following so very many words? Infinite Jest is sometimes hilarious, at other times tragic, and wise novel about addiction and nearly everything else in a near future world not unlike our own. Even better the second time round.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • kieran martin
  • 05-04-22

It’s kind of a universe

I revisit this all the time, just to spend some time around the characters. It’s a long rambling combination of parts and the sad thing about that is some short passages on depression, addiction or isolation stand alone and not everyone will get to take them in, due to the overall size of the thing

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 05-29-20

wow

one of life's great reading experiences. an amazing artist is Mr Foster Wallace. read this book.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Mathew Hobbs
  • 05-07-19

A work of art.

contrasting carefully crafted delicious prose with pithy comedy. I am grateful to have heard it. about about to restart it all over again.

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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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    4 out of 5 stars
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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