this booki think it is time to write a proper review for this book, as it is one of my all time favorites and deserves way than two words back when i was a junior in college, i was at the nyu bookstore, trying to sell back some textbooks before going away for winter break the person in line in front of me was trying to sell back infinite jest where was i when this class was being offered and of course, they weren t taking it back because nyu is a stingy fucking school she turned around to me and said you want this and i said yes, cuz i don t say no to free, and she said merry christmas, and kinda just thrust it at me and it was the best present i ever got a true christmas miracle i was on my way to see my then boyfriend in italy for the start of a european jaunt, and i missed out on a lot of european cities because i could not put this book down i read it on planes and trains and a gondola, in restaurants and bars, by canals and in a cafe on top of the alps fuck cathedrals, i had this book i am a truly bad traveler, but i am a committed reader as soon as i finished the book, i started right over and since then i have read it a total of seven times it is the most glorious collection of words that has ever been published it is everything it is funny and sad and creepy and disturbing and completely absorbing and brilliant and he was just a gem of a man the first time i got to meet him, i dropped this book in front of him by now all tattered and smooshed, and he seem surprised that someone has actually read their copy and then i gave him a card that had been a thank you card, but i crossed out thank and wrote fuck in its place and said fuck you for writing the great american novel before i got the chance to this is the kind of thing i think is charming because i am deeply flawed but it worked, and he called me and it was really nice he was a great man who was truly kind and courteous to his fans i ended up getting a proper thank you card from him because he is traditionally charming and now i am sad just thinking about this so the review ends here because it has served its cathartic purpose for me and i guess if anyone is reading this you just got a free glimpse into the softer side of karen it happens.come to my blog Admittedly, Infinite Jest is a tough book You start the book having no clue when it is happening and who the various characters are There is stuff that happens in the opening pages that explains events at the end of the book I d say it is quite elliptical That being said, it is an amazing piece of literature I forced myself through the first 300 and then 400 pages and at about 500 pages I finally hit my stride and was able to follow through to 1071 yes this was the British printing not the American one I loved the characters and the high comedy that is here as well as all the wacky situations in the drug rehab centre and the tennis academy The president reminded me a lot of the current American campaign I could almost see the Statue of Liberty carrying a Trump Tower logo across her forehead and the text was occasionally of incredible beauty and insight.Take this passage from the Marathe Steeply exchange from Marathe Someone who had authority, or should have had authority and did not exercise authority I do not know But someone sometime let you forget how to choose, and what.Someone let your peoples forget it was the only thing of importance, choosing So completely forgetting that when I say choose to you you make expressions with your face such as Herrrrrre we are going Someone taught that temples are for fanatics only and took away the temples and promised there was no need for temples And now there is no shelter And no map for finding the shelter of a temple And you all stumble about in the dark, this confusion of permissions This is such a perceptive description of why Drumpf was elected A vast swath of Americans are driven by short attention, knee jerk reactionism based on their inability to choose and their reliance of alternative facts President J Gentle is eerily similar to Drumpf the coming destruction of Standing Rock by the pipeline from which Drumpf himself oh, sorry his son will profit , how is that different from the Concavity DFW s book can be read as much of a warning againsy Drumpf as Roth s The Plot Against America or Lewis It Can t Happen Here And I digressAn important book for the 21st C And oh, so relevant I talked for a few hours to fellow Goodreads reading addict Nocturnalux and tried to get her convinced that this should be on her reading list It remains for me a landmark work requiring infinite patience to get the reveal of the infinite joke at the end. It s my habit to write on the inside sleeve of a book the words from the text that I can t define or don t understand Here is the resulting list from the back inside sleeve of Infinite Jest apocopesbolectionsregletsdipsomaniaquincunxvaricocelessimpaticoaleatoryexperialistagnatepedalferrousfulvouslouveredsangfroidgibbonsapercueideticmuratedtumescentrecidivismerumpentrutilanthalepurlednacellesulcusimprecatedtumbrelcomportmentscopophobicasperityrapaciousafflatusbatheticbrachiformstrabismicascaparticavuncularaditfactotachuffingneuralgiactumideustacianxerophagygynecopiasuborningsolecisticlissomeascaparticanapesticbradyauxeticlordosiscorticatemucronatecodicillumenacreouspuerilethanatopticspansuleshaspprognathousnonuremicapothegmapicalsselvagedcaparisoncunctationsaphasiacetiologyprolixchymeamanuenticfalcatejejunecatastaticeschatologydeclivitymaffickingcuirassvigmiasmacorditecirrhoticreveilletektiticcrepuscularthrenodyemerymysticetouslyanechoicanorakerumpent again apparently I didn t remember it from the first time aphasiacreseaudiverticulitiscathexisskirlingdunexaculatesaphasiaanodizedpicayunecaprolaliacverdigrisedcoruscantanacliticcatexicsybariticallyrestenoticmalentenduperipateticlordoticrictalthanatopicolla podidainguinalsudoriferousswartemeticparotiticalacritysinciputkyphoticciquatoxicI didn t realize until later in the book that DFW often makes up words I will post a full review at my blog, meekadjustments.blogspot.com. While I don t actually have A Favorite Book or Song, or Album, or Band, or Film, or Painting, or Sexual Position, or any other category of things that contain than one equally great contender Infinite Jest is the first book that immediately comes to mind when the idea of My Favorite Book arises.As I ve already alluded to and partially instantiated in a few scattered places around GoodReads, I feel that I read this book at the right time The contingent particulars which culminated as the temporal whole that was My Life converged with my reading of this book rather beautifully First of all, I had zero knowledge of the book and author before and throughout my reading I came upon it as a babe in the woods in these regards I was completely unaware of its popular and largely positive critical reception seven years prior in 1996 For this I am grateful It s all too easy to hop on the backlash bandwagon when critical darlings and it people of the moment emerge on your radar I take great pains to try to avoid this kind of thing, but it s not easy.I also was juggling a variety of ongoing, confused trains of thought about the basic subjects that the book focuses on to boil them down as far as relevantly and reasonably possible Addiction, Entertainment, and Western Culture, specifically that of the modern US of A I was also deep in the trenches of stomach level sadness 1 1 What were you intending to do when you started this book I wanted to do something sad I d done some funny stuff and some heavy, intellectual stuff, but I d never done anything sad And I wanted it not to have a single main character The other banality would be I wanted to do something real American, about what it s like to live in America around the millennium And what is that like There s something particularly sad about it, something that doesn t have very much to do with physical circumstances, or the economy, or any of the stuff that gets talked about in the news It s like a stomach level sadness I see it in myself and my friends in different ways It manifests itself as a kind of lostness Whether it s unique to our generation I really don t know Interview I had borrowed the copy that I read the first time around from my best friend at the time, who I d been close with since early childhood I d been confiding some existential angst to him about depression and the exacerbation of said depression with miscellaneous self medicating behavioral patterns He responded by solemnly handing me a thick book wrapped in the image of white cumulus clouds imposed upon a bright blue sky Cut to the summer of 2004 I d just finished my first year of real not community college and was working on the buildings and grounds crew around the campus in exchange for eight dollars an hour and a free room I spent the days doing all manner of maintenance and grunt work and my nights poring over this book and dramatically rediscovered the joys of falling head first into a fictional world and the redemptive value of communing with the consciousness of another person through reading and writing I also found another artist to feel a deep kinship with and solely through the type of communion that is mediated by pulped trees and ink Wallace was rather quickly inducted into the ever expanding and occasionally contracting roster that is my pantheon of personal heroes, and as such also rapidly ascended through the ranks to sit somewhere vaguely near the zenith point again, the trouble with ranking.I was hooked in a big way by the time I hit upon the scene describing the torturously self conscious, self doubting thoughts of a cannabis addict named Ken Erdedy This was well before the hundredth page mark It perfectly captured the mind of a hyper analytic depressive and compulsive THC ingestor From the sorrowfully resigned glee that all minutely self aware addicts feel at various points along the path of Addiction of planning a two week long marijuana vacation 2 to the descriptions of how depressing having sex with someone would be in such an excessively stoned and self loathing state 3 2 Consisting mainly of drawing the blinds, shutting off the phone, being perpetually intoxicated with pot smoke, watching films, vigorously masturbating, and loads of fractally expanding and contracting shame and despair lurking beneath it all and frequently bursting through the surface for greedy gulps of oxygen and one on one time with the vacationer s psyche This planning is all being done in the context of desperately attempting to find a way to finally pluck the compulsive behavior getting high from his life excessive use of the demonized substance is rationalized as the savior, the one thing that will finally make him disgusted enough to quit forever 3 He had never once had actual intercourse on marijuana Frankly, the idea repelled him Two dry mouths bumping at each other, trying to kiss, his self conscious thoughts twisting around on themselves like a snake on a stick while he bucked and snorted dryly above her, his swollen eyes red and his face sagging so that its slack folds maybe touch, limply, the folds of her own loose sagging face as it sloshed back and forth on his pillow, its mouth working dryly pp 22 23 There s simply too much too many amazing scenes and characters to even begin the process of surgically removing them, holding them up to the light of the review, and rendering them vague enough to maintain some requisite mystery and yet contextualized enough to give each pinned down specimen some mouth watering OOMPF for the Dear Reader It simply cannot be done People can cast their gaze in the direction of the myriad collegiate dissertations already written about this book and or a book called Elegant Complexity if they want in depth analysis Luckily, many of the people I know who will read this review have already read the novel.So there s a terrible type of rumor that roams around about this book, and Wallace generally, and these sentiments can be rounded up and boiled down to It s all PoMo trickery and no heart Wrong So very, very wrong I ve always seen this book as the emergent property locus of a web like arrangement of profoundly emotionally compelling portraits of people, places and things This is its core, its essence, its fundamental organizing principle Yes, there are some gags, like footnotes and some funny names, but what the naysayers seem to overlook are the hundreds of seismically moving descriptions of human struggles and triumphs from the head clutchingly jaw gapingly dramatic to the very recognizably monotonous which can be very edifying, this process of recognition from the painfully, inherently private and singular to the monumentally universal and public Wallace s desire to write a sorrowful book is fully realized here I think it s safe to say that this a tragedy in the Shakespearean 4 sense of the term and that it, like the greatest tragedies, does not simply pummel you with darkness but pokes holes of humor and joy through the opaque veil to allow for some breathing room Indeed, there are some extremely funny things going on in this book and it s mostly a darker shade of humor that is employing them Not at all like putting a clown nose on a prisoner being executed or anything DFW is much naturally funny than that but a beautiful balance of the genuinely sad, the genuinely funny and the instances of absurdity where both overlap 4 FYI The title comes from a line in Hamlet, Alas, poor Yorick I knew him, Horatio a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy I also think of this book as mostly embodying a style of realism, though there are occasionally some rather extraordinary things taking place as well What I m trying to stress is that it s not some non stop ride of wacky gimmicks and metafiction which is strangely and mistakenly the impression some blurbs give of this book Beneath the hilarious absurdity of things like business corporations annually purchasing the names of the year which is a brilliant gag, by the way there is a massive foundation of stark realism and humanism perched stoically beneath, and it s all just slightly, artfully tweaked in ways that makes you wonder how this or that instance of absurdity is really much different from the absurdity faced in your slice of the non fictional world that you inhabit I ll go ahead and just state it plainly referring to our units of measurement, like our neat bundles of 365 days, as things like Year of the Adult Depends Undergarment or Year of the Trial Sized Dove Bar is less insane than the very real concept of corporate personhood.As far as self referentiality and the use of metafictional techniques are concerned, I simply see none of it Nowhere are we cleverly reminded that we re reading a book at least not explicitly Nowhere is that little wink and nudge of This is a book I am an author writing a book ever inserted into the prose This was something Wallace very consciously avoided along with a species of irony that he s referred to as being representative of the song of a bird who s come to love its cage I ve discussed this with Bram before and he makes some mention of DFW s self consciousness seeping through the pages of Infinite Jest in his wonderful, if slightly less religiously devoted review Bram s point seems to be so that Wallace s voice throughout the novel is very much his voice the same type of charge gets launched at DeLillo, as I briefly covered elsewhere This is indisputable The thing is this it doesn t bother me in the least because, as Bram writes on the subject of DFW s voice, Whatever his reason for writing this way, it works because this voice is such a joy to read Amen, brother Bram Indeed, I found it to be such a joy that I didn t even notice this fact about the prose style in either my first or second reading I don t mind that the thoughts of a physically deformed and mentally challenged teenager are narrated with the same voice as the thoughts of a clinically depressed thirtysomething woman, or a wheelchair bound Qu b coise assassin, or the prettiest veiled girl of all time, or an alcoholic experimental filmmaker and his childhood self, et cetera The book is written from a completely third person perspective, too This is an important fact to note Had Wallace tried to cram his voice into first person perspectives of the characters it would ve been an unpublishable disaster But he didn t, it wasn t, so let s get over it and just come to grips with what it means to write from the third person perspective In sum, this book is proof positive, by my lights, that characters don t have to take on wildly different tones of voice and manners of thought and speech in order to be rendered deeply sympathetic and compelling For most of the book the prose is so pitch perfect and the on page action so arresting that I simply didn t make a note of this just now mentioned technical stuff about perspective, tonal shifts, and so on There are some relative lulls, like some of the extended descriptions of tennis matches, but on the vastly larger slice of the pie chart the book remains extremely entertaining, thought provoking, tear duct lubing, belly tickling, soul massaging, etc The scenes at Ennett Recovery House and the AA meetings are flawless and much of it struck me quite strongly as being amazingly insightful and emotionally jarring Upon my second reading of the novel I discovered where the cover image of the sky might possibly have come from You are at a fork in the road that Boston AA calls your Bottom , though the term is misleading, because everybody here agrees it s like someplace very high and unsupported you re on the edge of something tall and leaning way out forward p 347 Everything involving the Incandenza family is superb Same with Joelle Van Dyne aka Madame Psychosis, aka P.G.O.A.T Prettiest Girl of All Time Same with Gately Same with the entire conceptual metaphorical apparatus behind the notorious film mostly known as The Entertainment officially titled Infinite Jest as well as the actual socio political entanglements that surround it Same with the brilliant conversational back n forths between Marathe and Steeply, where some of the greatest insights into the three major themes of the novel occur Same with Wallace s sheer talent with language, including the coining of highly memorable terms and idioms There are now two phrases I use around fellow fans of this book when the moment is appropriate the howling fantods in reference to feelings of extreme nervousness and high strung emotional strain and to eliminate one s map in reference to suicide I could gush on and on and on and onThis all just makes me want to settle into Round Three right this very second and read it all over again and I just might Infinite Jest has the quality of slowly unfurling in your memory, which makes sense considering the sheer length, the descriptive depth, and the broad spectrum of content Each re exposed detail symbiotically attaches itself into the larger, self organizing, cumulative memory of how fucking amazing the book was and indeed still is When I met the tome s final sentence and finished it off I was left with an amazing set of feelings that s very difficult to describe satisfactorily Basically, I felt a deep abiding sadness at the fact that it was now finished I found myself somewhat frantically flipping between the final page and the Notes Errata section, irrationally seeking words I may as well have been tearing the room apart looking for meth money I felt a physiological craving confined and radiating within I wanted More entertainment More communion More redemption More identification And then as I sat stunned and staring at the final paragraph it hit me David Foster Wallace wanted the reader to feel this way 5 5 On some level all writers and artists and anyone trying to sell anything ideas, feelings, books, etc to other people all want those people to keep coming back for , but there was than that standard set of intentions going on in Infinite Jest He was trying to show people something about themselves, namely that sad, funny, and strange spectacle of continually seeking pleasure and relief.He wanted the reader to acknowledge Craving He turned the mirror of the Ennett House upon the reader and captured their reflection and left them with things to think deeply about outside of the book My eyes widened and my jaw literally dropped open and the word Genius popped into my head, scattering the cognitive noise and bringing me one brief moment of Thoughtless Bliss. Anybody who completes Infinite Jest automatically receives a medal Really Just read every single fuh cking word from beginning til the end, you get an award that s what THIS IS, basically A badge of honor Bragging rights A Privilege The experience which is so much like ogling the Mona Lisa live at the Louvre for the first time you can already envision her in your mind you know what it is, even before you get to stand before it.The literary equivalent of chasing the magic dragon Just keeping at something this being a very complex and cranial novel like some zombie to get you absolutely nowhere This is like a insufferable Beckett in that at least Beckett s implaus o ramas have an ending But here, get ready to get nowhere Nowhere, not fast, but slowwwly Moments of Eureka I ve found something concrete at last Finally, a location upon which to hang it s all very brief ha and ethereal to grasp Like some interesting but fleeting aroma The main driving force for the reader is to traverse the plot like some intrepid trekker here, that motivation is eradicated what we are left with is one fat big juicy.The premise That we live in a systematic place where components are controlled by family, substances, life The back and forth between the school and the rehab embody a game of tennis emblematic system used to symbolize coming of age as well as the myriad needlepoint philosophies that go with it No patterns arise Yet the reader has always his wants That you don t matter in the enterprise is what ultimately spoils this experience for me The writer has very consciously tried to build a sturdy monolithic castle from individual grains of dry sand An impossible endeavor, but it must be witnessed The things that stick out are the sordid details the head in the microwave, the shot in the face the molestation of little boys, of invalids a hanging fetus.If you say I.J is the future of the novel, you definitely haven t read 1936 s Gone with the Wind Almost a full century old, that tome really justifies its girth like Lonesome Dove The Stand do, like Don Quixote Les Miserables eons ago I understand the allure of this, really, I do, but HOW MANY DIFFERENT WAYS CAN YOU SAY THE EXACT SAME THING Definitely not in 1088 pages But maybe eighty eight.Bottom line this novel really gave me a serious case of the howling fantods. I ve been waiting, panther like, for the right combination of caffeine and personal gumption to strike, to attack writing about this, since it really is one of my favorite books ever ever, and one of the most fascinating things I ve ever read I ve read this book twice and I could care less what people say about it, because when I do care, I tend to grit my teeth over the ridiculous comments reviews that tend to come up in discussing David Foster Wallace s work People like to levy the criticism that the book is sloppy or digressive Really You think An 1100 page book with 200 pages of small print footnotes might be a little digressive or indulgent or maddening It might stray a wee bit into uncharted, dark woods territory Jeez.There is, in art, what I like to call the crazy project Once you go to work on the Crazy Project C.P for short you don t leave the Crazy Project You don t FINISH the crazy project You can when you are really involved in it, I mean really involved scarcely even talk about it you may not even realize you re involved in it The C.P involves being given a hammer the only real tool of the artist , a mouthful of nails, and being sent over yonder hill and told to do AS MUCH DAMAGE AS YOU POSSIBLY CAN with the hammer you have been given When working on the C.P., the creative force is one in the same as the destructive force, and your hammer is a useful tool regardless of which way you are swinging it.I think DFW is one of the most fascinating authors alive he s doing work with the English language in the tradition of Kathy Acker, Bill Burroughs, or James Joyce The marketplace demands novels and so people oblige, but there is a difference between a novel and a BOOK, and I would consider a book to be interesting if difficult and less composed and Infinite Jest is definitely a BOOK, and shouldn t be treated as a novel in the same way, say, Life of Pi is a novel and I do think Life of Pi is terrific, don t get me wrong But, if you want immaculately written works of fiction by Wallace, check out his short stories especially the ones in Girl w Curious Hair because these conform to what you would expect from traditional notions of reading fiction If you want a beautiful, wildly ambitious, insanely indulgent, uncompromising mind bending skull violating MESS, one that comprises an entire Victorian manor of the Crazy Project, then Infinite Jest may well be worth your while.The book is, definitely, a mess, let s not mince words It is also obsessively compulsively mathematical in the way that DFW seems to enjoy there is an order to the chaos, and it did take reading it a second time to pull out some of the exquisitely crafted crystalline plot strands he was working at Linearity coherence of disparate plot elements is not what the book is interested in, be warned But before I make the case of this being some academic project with no soul, let me say that reading this, I was genuinely surprised and moved by how deep real the characters in it become The characters in here are terribly tragic, in a real Shakespearian sense the book s title is after all a reference to Hamlet , and their tapestry in this book s pages is as intimate and heartrending as it is vast this book is a language project but one that remains absolutely invested in the lives of the people involved in that project.The book is about a lot of things American culture the nature of desire, fathers and sons, art, addiction, institutions, drugs, consciousness, film the nature of narrative too much to go into More than anything, I think, the book is about addiction, and how our desires are moderated and mediated by culture, and how desire addiction are entwined, and how Westerners approach these things.Infinite Jest is wildly funny and, like I mentioned above, almost unexpectedly moving there is a kind of veneer between the reader and the characters they are guarded and stoic people, for the most part, and getting to know them can be as frustrating as trying to get to know someone in your own life who is guarded and careful with their emotions But over the course of hundreds of pages you learn the inner workings of IJ s huge cast, and their emotional motivations and subtleties begin to resonate with you in ways that dig so deep I think they re almost frightening.This book is dense enough to say the least that I think you can get out of it whatever you are willing to put into it Isn t this true of most good art But the depth here is incredible To say I m biased and a bit blinded to criticisms about this book is hardly the point I think its a marvel, I think its a mess, I think it taught me what the difference is between a book a novel, and why I think BOOKS are what the front line artists working on the Crazy Project are really hammering out.update addendum I wrote this when DFW was still alive It pains me to even go back and read this review one of the most fascinating authors alive I can reliably drop the last word of that now DFW s suicide still stings like no other artist for me I do know I m not alone there, a lot of people who admire his work feel it We were robbed it s selfish, incredibly so, but so is suicide.Objectively, I still think Girl With Curious Hair is probably the best place to start, but I didn t start there, I started here, and it worked out okay Just know this is a glorious mess, be patient with it, the book wants to be your daddy, but you have to be its daddy, let it teach you as you guide it it it s a living thing, this book, all the precious now. Know what they say about novels such as Infinite Jest Don t seek Perfection or Pleasure but rather seek the Infinite Possibilities.I have a lot to say about this book but before that there s a little I don t want to say about it Here it is This book is never ending It bored me at times too Some of the end notes were annoying I read many other books when I was supposed to read this book Whenever somebody asked me what IJ was all about, I was unable to come up with a clear cut answer I skipped few lines here and there I think those who haven t read this book or won t read it, would have or less incomplete existence as a reader I think those who have read the whole book and still think it s no good are..well just normal I guess No reason is good enough for not reading this book In spite of best of my efforts my mind diverted to DFW s suicide I had thoughts of trying marijuana it s not really a big deal in India After reading few reviews here, I got panic attacks due to their awesomeness This review went out of hand and got a bit long, so oops I don t want to say cheesy lines like If IJ was a country, I d applied for a permanent residency or If IJ was a drug, I d get high forever or If IJ was a guy, I d marry him or I m already missing reading it I laughed when I said to myself after finishing it, let me get my thoughts in order The good news is you can read IJ again and again The bad news is, you Have to read it again.Here s what I want to sayAn Unexamined LifeE.M Forster said, One always tends to overpraise a long book, because one has got through it Though I m sure he didn t have a book like IJ in mind, but I agree with him to some extent Reading a long book means devoting a substantial time of your life, a time which you value and there s no way one would like to declare that he she it spent that time on something unworthy But when the book is Infinite Jest, then it deserves every iota of praise bestowed upon it Its reading experience is something like the author takes your hand, makes you sit in front of a mirror and whisper in your ear, now see the magic and lo, you re sucked in by the mirror and the next moment you find yourself in a strange yet surprisingly familiar land and slowly the images, the scenery, the words starts unfolding themselves and you need to look out at each direction, else you ll be lost You need to examine a life, which was left unexamined for a long time.Day of finishing Infinite JestJan 25, 2013 at around 2200hrs, I finished reading this book, closed it and put it aside I stared at it for a while, then logged on to goodreads, gave it 5 stars, put it under my favorites shelf and asked myself, Well what was that all about There was no answer in response but just an echo of words to write something that stabs you in the heart That pierces you, makes you think you re going to die.Day of starting reading Infinite jest There was a sudden knock on the door I woke up with a start and reluctantly went to open the door An adolescent boy promptly asked, Do you want to get entertained Huh what the I slammed the door shut and went back to sleep Few hours passed but again my sleep broke on hearing some loud cheering I went out and much to my surprise there was a whole tennis court in front of me and two players were busy playing There was a group of boys snorting coke sitting round the corner and on the opposite stands, some kind of class was going on I recognized that it was Arthur Ashe stadium, but couldn t place the players I looked at the score board Wal and Fed Wal was apparently leading with 6 3, 7 6, 5 3 Somebody tapped on my shoulder He was the same boy This time he handed me a book I took it and immediately lost my balance The alarm of my cell phone went off at that precise moment and welcomed me back to reality Once the feeling of vertigo subsided, I checked the date December 1, 2012 I said to myself, Of course The days in betweenOver the period of almost two months, I read IJ every day Having read Girl with curious hair and A supposedly fun thing I ll never do again I experienced both fiction and non fiction writing by Wallace and loved it It proved to be a boon because if nothing else, the disjointed stories in IJ were something like short stories from Girl although a lot developed and maturely handled and the long ramblings on different topics reminded me of essays in a Supposedly fun so Yes Reading Wallace s other works before attempting this book did help a lot than I expected There was something that made him work for me, which not only provided enjoyment but became a great source of knowledge and it won t be an exaggeration to say that I have found a book that shall remain with me both physically and emotionally throughout this modest and unexciting life of mine.Infinite Jest is not a work of a genius It s the work of someone who was all set to change the definition of word genius as we know it He created a world that was consistently dark, desolate and most of the times demented but also witty, ingenious and oh so funny This magnum opus is incredibly challenging but at the same time surprisingly accessible It won t let the reader sit back, relax and enjoy it It s no beach read but want its readers to sit up and take notice about what is going on You can t afford to lose focus and track but the probability is that you ll lose both anyway It s that kind of book, a literary equivalent of mobiusism, a never ending quest, a once in a lifetime experience By expressing all this, I m in no way glorifying its completion by me, but simply stating the facts It s not possible to overestimate this book Wallace took the most wretched situations and characters and created such amazing backdrops, that in spite of everything so seemingly hopeless, he would still be able to present you with a glimpse of hope In face of lot of desperate moves, he would teach you a lesson or two in patience With so many impossibilities going on one after the other, he would tell what all is possible if one try to do just one thing Realize His prose is exuberant with less scope of comfort He won t surround you with the sea of beautiful flowing writing to make you feel that he has stated something profound but rather something relentless and contemporary that you re in a position to relate in both subjective and objective way, no matter how insane that way is You ll lose count of neologism, solecism, colloquialism, malapropism, and many other isms DFW employed within IJ, which not only proves fascinating but gives you an idea about the extent to which he allowed himself to experiment in order to say whatever he wanted to and you ll see how effortless it all looks as if DFW was telling something that s always been there and getting our attention by a simple psst look here expression Dave Eggers in his wonderful foreword rightly stated A Wallace reader gets the impression of being in a room with a very talkative and brilliant uncle or cousin, who, just when he s about to push it too far, to try our patience with too much detail, has the good sense to throw in a good low brow joke.He has employed an allegorical structure to this novel and develops it to an extraordinary proportion taking cues from many of his influences namely Joyce, Pynchon, Shakespeare and Dante to name a few.I don t want to indulge much into plot s , but just a brief and my practice in brevity, if I m allowed IJ primarily takes place in futuristic USA circa 2009 10 in Boston city The setting for majority of the narration is based at Enfield Tennis Academy ETA and Ennet House, a drug and alcohol recovery house, where majority of the interesting characters reside, situating nearby ETA ETA was founded by James O Incandenza, an avant garde film maker, whose wife, Avril Incandenza heads the academy with their 2 sons, Mario and Hal being the current attendees of the ETA while their eldest brother, Orin being a previous attendee, now a punter in the NFL Orin is a jerk, Mario is great and Hal is lonely Avril is beautiful, very tall and delusional about her kids James was taller, committed suicide and knew his kids just too well He created a film known as The Entertainment, titled Infinite Jest , which rud to have qualities such that whoever saw it wanted nothing else ever in life but to see it again, then again and so on, rendering its audience fatally addicted to it The quest of finding the master copy of this entertainment marks the entry of a group of Quebecois separatists in the book, known as Les Assassins des Fauteuils Rollents a.k.a Wheelchair Assassins or simply A.F.R, who wants to obtain a copy, which they called Samizdat , because of its lethal qualities that would make them dangerously powerful to meet their extremist goals This group gave me creeps The book is mostly covered with Wallace commentary about drug addiction through myriad eccentric and bizarre characters at the Ennet House Wallace presents the intake of drugs, its effects and substance withdrawal i.e cold turkey in such merciless detail that one can t help to actually empathize with those involved in substance abuse Apart from drugs, there s some wonderful description about depression, clinical depression to be precise Here s one of my favorite passage which I ve tagged as spoiler view spoiler The so called psychotically depressed person who tries to kill herself doesn t do so out of quote hopelessness or any abstract conviction that life s assets and debits do not square And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing The person in whom Its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high rise Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view i.e the fear of falling remains a constant The variable here is the other terror, the fire s flames when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors It s not desiring the fall it s terror of the flames And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling Don t and Hang on , can understand the jump Not really You d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling hide spoiler DJ Ian s Sunday Evening Tell Me What You Really Think You re listening to Radio KCRCR, Tell Me What You Really Think , where we listen to the critics and you talk back That s if there s any time left after I finish my rant Hehe.A lot of listeners ask me about my namesake What about that other Ian Graye, you say The one on GoodReads What do you think of him And what did you think of his recent review of David Foster Wallace s magnum opus Well, let me reassure you that other Ian Graye is a wanker Don t trust his five star review of Infinite Jest IJ for short, but not for long.He is a classic pseudo intellectual, who occasionally comes under the sway of people like Nathan, MJ and a few female Good Readers with brains and or ambition, and tries unconvincingly to run with their small herd, while simultaneously feigning the impression of reading, appreciating and reviewing the big books that appeal to them He is a post capitalist lapdog of the tamest and most ineffectual kind.This is what he would say, if he had the guts Actually, it s not what he would say, it s what I m saying.He can wallow in pretension.IJ is a dogs breakfast Nobody has actually read it from cover to cover Nobody has understood it on its own terms Anybody who reckons they ve read it or understood it is lying and needs to be exposed for the fibbers they are The sooner there is something that is post postmodernism that we can get our hands and minds and kindles and iPatches on the better No wait, it doesn t matter.Postmodernism was invented so that nerds could take money off other nerds.Meanwhile, the rest of the world can eat, drink, snort, smoke, dance, party and have sex regardless and in spite of the postmodernist nerdfest going down, down, down in the library.LengthSurely, it is enough to state the length of this book to condemn it.If an author has 1,100 pages in them, then write four novels of 275 pages each.Can Sting possibly be any better on the fourth day of his tantric sex than he is on the first What is the point To achieve a target for the Guinness Book of Records For as soon as you break the record, somebody else will want to beat you and your record will last for, how long, one year, at most RepetitionIn a book that long, there must surely be a lot of repetition of themes and subject matter, if not dialogue and actual words.As for a book whose ending simply takes you back to the beginning That s not what I call recycling Recycling is the yellow bin Or, wishful thinking for charities, two copies sitting side by side in a second hand book store.Self IndulgenceSee my comment about Sting Beyond that, I risk being guilty of the post modern crime of repetition In fact, I might already be guilty Damn How ironic.IronyShow me somebody who really knows what irony means and I ll show you a bullshit artist.I mean, what does an incongruity between the literal and the implied meaning mean Is there any literal meaning that is not implied Surely, DFW meant everything his words implied.Therefore, they are not incongruous, they are deliberate and congruous.This is starting to sound like that other Ian Graye, so I will stop.PlayfulnessOK, so they play tennis in this book So what And so what if he plays with our minds Writing this bloody book probably played with DFW s own mind How can you control something as gargantuan and prolix as this It plays with our minds, because it played with his If he had won the game, it would have been a shorter, sharper, better book and a pleasant experience for us.There is a reason tennis has a tie breaker IJ needed a tie breaker Around 300 pages.Black HumorI like black humor, white humor and Jewish humor I haven t heard any other types yet But I hope I do eventually.However, I can t remember any good jokes in IJ, nor can I remember LOL ing.Even if I could remember one, there s no way I would ever tell a mate in a pub or print it on a t shirt, which is my ultimate test of a good joke, well, an aphorism, anyway.IntertextualityI mean, are you serious Who would invent a word like intertextuality , but a postmodernist wanker Did the English language really need this word Did it have to be imported from France or Italy, or wherever Intertextuality the relationship between one text a novel for example and another or one text within the interwoven fabric of literary history an indication of postmodernism s lack of originality and reliance on clich s.Put two things next to each other, juxtapose them, as the other Ian Graye would say, and you have a relationship a juxtaposition So what If you want to refer to another book in your book, it s a quote if it s acknowledged or plagiarism if it s not.So what Any graduate student can do this We used to call it cheating.As for cliches, we were taught to eschew them in my day DFW uses truckloads of cliches, mostly old ones, but many new ones of his own creation How pathetic There are nearly as many cliches in IJ as there are in Hamlet I mean, To be, or not to be , if Shakespeare was half the writer he s supposed to be or not to be , he would have steered clear of that old chestnut.PasticheOnce again, write your own bloody book Don t copy somebody else s Sampling is cheating If I want to read the other book or listen to the other song, I ll find it on iTunes.MetafictionAnother word created by postmodernists for postmodernists It s like a secret handshake A club for us and not for you Because you won t let us into your club, and your club is blockbuster, best selling fiction with a home and a boat in the Bahamas.Anybody who can write should strive for a home and a boat, better still, a houseboat If you haven t got it in you, don t waste trees or cyberspace Write a blog Do your pathetic little reviews on GoodReads Or pathetically long reviews, in the case of my namesake.FabulationI mean, honest, we re talking fiction here, and some critic has to introduce a synonym and pretend it means something different A distinction without a difference A high distinction without a job prospect This is today s academia for you.PoioumenaThis word makes me want to vomit.I mean I love Maoris and their language, but words weren t meant to consist of four consecutive vowels It s inconsonant.Historiographic MetafictionAnother one What, aren t the old words good enough for postmodernists This would have been edited out of the wiki article if anybody knew what it meant or had the guts.Instead, it s left in, and college students in my wake will struggle to apply it correctly in a sentence for another 20 years.If this term was a dog, it would be put down In fact, this term is a dog Bang.Temporal DistortionIt gets worse Fragmentation and non linear narratives In a word, drugs Nobody used this language when the poison of choice was alcohol.In the old days, the bell would ring, and you d say, Oh, is that the time Not temporal distortion.Magic RealismAll the best drugs come from South America Say no But put a frat boy in a broad brimmed hat and sit him on a horse and it doesn t make him a gaucho or a magic realist.Technoculture and HyperrealityDoof doof I can t remember one computer in IJ Unless you count microwaves and whatever they played the cartridges on And, I mean, who remembers cartridges ParanoiaThe only source of paranoia for me in IJ is the sense that DFW might have known what he was talking about and I didn t get it But if he did and I didn t, then I ve read all the other IJ reviews on Good Reads, and no two of them are the same, so quit the bullshit and admit it, nobody gets it It s time we fessed up, it can t be got, we weren t supposed to get it, DFW didn t design it to be got, leave it alone.IJ is a conspiracy by the paper manufacturing industry to consume paper, put it inside a hard cover and never let it see the light of day.Yes, a paranoid conspiracy, I know, but guess what, it worked.MaximalismA big word for long MinimalismA big word for a little idea Incongruous, if not ironic, I know.EncyclopaedicYes, IJ is long, but credit where credit is due, it contains a lot of words and meanings, about a lot of things, but let s face it, nobody ever reads an encyclopaedia from beginning to end, we all dip in one entry at a time, if not randomly, and we wouldn t know shit about all the other bits that we didn t read.Let s hope there s not a question about them in the exam.Well, that s about it from me Let me leave you with one serious thought.Party at my place Come on.KCRCR Whatever will be will be And whatever will not be will not be That is the answer and there s the rub Thanks, Bill Can I have my bottle back now, please Oh, is that the time Let s cross to Rupert for the news.CHOOSE YOUR REVIEW Infinite Jest elicits diverse reactions I thought I might try to express some of them, both negative and positive.The above review is my attempt at a negative review.My positive reviews are mentioned below.TAME AND INEFFECTUAL POST CAPITALIST LAPDOG FIVE STAR REVIEWThis is a positive capsule review with a few add ons ONLY PSEUDO INTELLECTUAL FIVE STAR REVIEWThis review is my attempt at a analytical, but positive, review TELL ME WHAT YOU REALLY THINK VOTE COUNT AUDITED BY CHARTERED ACCOUNTANTS NICE WATERCLOSET DJ Ian February 17, 201341 likesPost Capitalist Lapdog ReviewFebruary 17, 201338 likesNerd s Only Pseudo Intellectual ReviewFebruary 17, 201327 likesDJ Ian s one star review jennifer garnered likes in 12 hours than either of the other five star reviews did in 10 months they were posted in April 2012. 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. I should have hated this book 1079 pages of small text with loooooonnnnggggg paragraphs and little white space so it feels like you re reading a newspaper from 1881 Plus, 96 goddamn pages of endnotes 1 The plot, such as it is, doesn t really come into focus until several hundred pages into it, and even though it s set in the near future where something very strange has happened in North America, this doesn t get explained until about mid way through the book so you re left feeling confused and bewildered a lot of the time There s an almost endless cast of characters Long sections of the book have detailed descriptions of things that don t seem crucial to the plot 2 And then there s the fact you have to use two bookmarks because you re constantly going back to the endnotes 3 Some of the endnotes contain long wandering passages that also don t seem relevant to anything 4The ending isn t very satisfying 5 The main plot point about the search for a cartridge of entertainment so good that it will literally make anyone who sees it immediately stop living their live and stay in front of the television until they die because they ll refuse to do anything but watch it, including eating, drinking, using the toilet, etc 6, isn t given much resolution, either.The book just kind of stops, and you have the distinct impression that DFW could have done another 1000 pages or so without breaking a sweat if he hadn t eventually eliminated his own map 7So after all that, why was my first instinct after finishing it to go back and immediately start re reading it 8I was completely engrossed when I was reading this book No matter what weird detours it took, I was than happy to just keep turning pages like one of those poor suckers who got snared by The Entertainment If this book was endless 9, I probably would have spent my life cheerfully reading it and then asked for a copy on my deathbed just to try and squeeze a few pages in.I m not sure why I liked it so much In fact, the way this book got into my head gives me a slight case of the howling fantods 10 Considering it s a book that deals a lot with obsession, this is than a little unsettling.I m sure someone with an English degree could spend the rest of their life trying to deconstruct this book, but I don t have the intelligence, skill or patience to even try Wallace did something unique and crazy with this, and he had the talent to make it work I don t know how, and I think that figuring it out might be like when you learn how a magic trick was done so I m just going to shelve it, always be glad that I took it on and managed to finish it, and re read it someday once the memory of the endless pages of endnotes has faded 11Oh, and I would have given it 5 stars, but you know, the endnote thing 12 1 Yes, 96 goddamn pages 2 I now know way about tennis drills and Alcoholics Anonymous than I ever really wanted to learn 3 Seriously, there are 388 endnotes in this freaking thing 4 There s an 8 page filmography listing all the movies that were supposed to have been made by one of the characters 5 Somebody email me and explain what the hell happened 6 The closest comparison would probably be a really kick ass episode of The Wire or Battlestar Galactica 7 Eliminating maps is a slang phrase from the book meaning to either kill someone or kill yourself 8 I didn t Mainly because I couldn t bear the thought of dealing with the endnotes again 9 And DFW did his best to make it that way 10 Howling fantods is another slang term from the book that means to get creeped out E.g Seeing Michael Jackson s horrifically surgically altered face on magazine covers after his death gave me the howling fantods 11 Some of the endnotes are so long that they have their own endnotes That s just messed up 12 I m not kidding They are completely out of control.