Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
A Novel

76%

24 Critic Reviews

Send your ironic attitudes off to the cleaners, and forget to pick them up. You can always go back to making fun of the Great American Novel next month or next year. In the meantime, take a chance on a book that aims to scale the heights. Who knows, you may decide you want to give up on downscaling completely.
-Blog Critics

Synopsis

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.

 

About David Foster Wallace

See more books from this Author
David Foster Wallace wrote the novels The Pale King, Infinite Jest, and The Broom of the System and the story collections Oblivion, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, and Girl With Curious Hair. His nonfiction includes Consider the Lobster, A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, Everything and More, and This Is Water. He died in 2008.
 
Published April 3, 2009 by Back Bay Books. 1098 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction
Bookmark Counts:
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Critic reviews for Infinite Jest
All: 24 | Positive: 20 | Negative: 4

Kirkus

Excellent
on May 20 2010

It's a raucous, Falstaffian, deadly serious vision of a cartwheeling culture in the self-pleasuring throes of self-destruction...Almost certainly the biggest and boldest novel we'll see this year and, flaws and all, probably one of the best.

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Publishers Weekly

Above average
on Jan 29 1996

...this tome is highly engrossing--in small doses. Yet the nebulous, resolutionless ending serves to underscore Wallace's underlying failure to find a suitable novelistic shape for his ingenious and often outrageously funny material.

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NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Jay McInerney on Mar 03 1996

...in the end, it is the dogged attempt of the recovering addict Don Gately to reclaim the simple pleasures of everyday life that overshadows the athletic, intellectual and onanistic pyrotechnics of the Incandenzas -- and makes this novel something more than an interminable joke.

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Blog Critics

Above average
Reviewed by Ted Gioia on Sep 21 2008

Send your ironic attitudes off to the cleaners, and forget to pick them up. You can always go back to making fun of the Great American Novel next month or next year. In the meantime, take a chance on a book that aims to scale the heights. Who knows, you may decide you want to give up on downscaling completely.

Read Full Review of Infinite Jest: A Novel | See more reviews from Blog Critics

The Independent

Good
Reviewed by Nat Segnit on Feb 11 2011

...DFW's style is so relaxed, and so sparsely punctuated, that the eye speeds past phrases another writer might have cushioned in commas, as jewels worthy of the reader's special attention.

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Booklist Online

Excellent
Reviewed by John Green on Dec 07 2015

The many parallel narratives are endlessly clever and complicated, and the book’s satiric attack on American culture and values is often hilarious, but what finally makes this such an extraordinary novel is Wallace’s ability to populate this surreal world with real, recognizable, and vivid characters.

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Pajiba

Good
Reviewed by Brian Prisco on Jan 15 2009

I’m terribly sad that Wallace passed. Depression haunts us all. This book sings with Wallace’s fight. And while he maintains a pragmatism about the war, you can also see points where the unbearable weight of melancholy sinks him.

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About.com

Good
Reviewed by Mark Flanagan on Jan 30 2013

...Wallace swaddles us along the way in the aforementioned humor, elaborately-rendered characters, highly individualized dialogue, and line after line of prose wrought with famously deft turn-of-phrase and powers of description.

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MostlyFiction Book Reviews

Good
Reviewed by Doug Bruns on May 12 2010

Jocularity aside, this is an important work. Seriously important and worthy. Maybe even lasting. That should entice one enough. Take a swing at it, but don’t force it.

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The Rumpus

Good
Reviewed by ART EDWARDS on Jan 27 2011

Taking on IJ is a matter of trust. You have to believe that the book won’t sag around page 400, or 600, or 800. No doubt IJ isn’t for everyone, but the prose never gets lazy on you.

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The Rumpus

Good
Reviewed by CHARLIE CRESPO on Oct 29 2009

I found Wallace’s prose to be unlike anything I had ever read before and even though he used structures or techniques from postmodernism or minimalism, he was using them in order to attempt to do something new and break away from these conventional narrative forms.

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The Rumpus

Good
Reviewed by Elissa Bassist on Feb 03 2009

What makes the book “infinite” is what the reader takes out of it, how personal it becomes, how instructive. It’s definitive engagement ad infinitum.

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Persephone Magazine

Good
Reviewed by Karo on Jul 10 2013

It’s a bleak, bleak end to a novel that really never pretended to be anything but from the beginning. It’s the reader who has to assemble all the puzzle pieces – the funny ones as well as the sad ones – to see the world as Wallace meant it to be seen. It’s a big task, but it’s worth it.

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Journey With Jesus

Good
on Jul 15 2015

Some passages make you laugh out loud, others stymie you, single paragraphs run on for pages, and the infamous 388 footnotes themselves can have footnotes.

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LA Times

Above average
on Jul 31 2010

Finishing "Infinite Jest," one feels less played with than toyed with. Still, better to be toyed with by a genius than pandered to by some second-rater who'd write a few hundred pages and then give up. And Wallace has a toy box to do Pandora proud.

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Literary Kicks

Good
Reviewed by Michael Norris on Apr 09 2009

For me, Infinite Jest was a good big book. I bought into its world. I loved the characters, even the disturbing ones. I laughed at the comic scenes. I cringed when I read about clinical depression.

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Teen Ink

Above average
Reviewed by ShiyiL on Jul 22 2015

...Wallace’s humor also evokes bitter throbs in the heart; in between heaves of laughter, through tears that invariably emerge, readers will be struck with the vision of Wallace passionately pouring onto the page his loving, longing anxiety for life, his grin mischievous yet wistful.

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http://www.bookdrum.com

Above average
on Mar 20 2014

The post-modern tricks and the diverse language are tools used to re-tell a story that should be accessible to anyone – a search for identity and meaning. This is the thing that binds every character in Infinite Jest.

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Between The Covers

Good
Reviewed by Heather on Sep 14 2011

If you’re willing to put some time and work into it, Infinite Jest is a great read. I feel like every bit of my time–and then some–was reciprocated and I will definitely be re-reading it in the future.

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Caught Between the Pages

Below average
Reviewed by Kayla on Feb 09 2014

If you’re up for a challenge I’d definitely say to go for this book...This is going to take a while to get through and once you’re finished you’ll probably want to start reading it again-not for enjoyment, but because there are some hints at the ending that only show up in the beginning, when you aren’t ready to process them.

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The New Canon

Good
Reviewed by Ted Gioia on May 03 2014

So put aside your sneer for a few days. Send your ironic attitudes off to the cleaners, and forget to pick them up. You can always go back to making fun of the Great American Novel next month or next year. In the meantime, take a chance on a book that aims to scale the heights.

Read Full Review of Infinite Jest: A Novel

http://pankmagazine.com

Good
Reviewed by Joseph Michael Owens on May 03 2014

Infinite Jest is responsible for showing me how to connect to and shape the world around me and bend its light to project through my own literary lens — even if it’s different and strange and unorthodox — to break “rules” that constrain imagination...

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https://shelflove.wordpress.com

Below average
Reviewed by Teresa on Sep 17 2009

Wallace makes it impossible for the reader to put the book down at the end, call it done, and walk away. That said, unlike many other readers, I doubt I’ll read it again. For me, this kind of writing is more successful in smaller doses.

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The Rational Optimist

Below average
on Jun 15 2013

In sum, the book doesn’t seem to have much in the way of a plot, let alone dramatic tension, nor any characters that remotely resemble human beings, or possess any other aspects that engage the reader’s concern (mine anyway).

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Reader Rating for Infinite Jest
75%

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