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The Broom of the System

The Broom of the System

Paperback

By (author) David Foster Wallace

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  • Publisher: Abacus
  • Format: Paperback | 480 pages
  • Dimensions: 126mm x 194mm x 36mm | 358g
  • Publication date: 7 August 1997
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0349109230
  • ISBN 13: 9780349109237
  • Edition statement: Reissue.
  • Sales rank: 97,979

Product description

A visionary, a craftsman, a comedian and as serious as it is possible to be without accidentally writing a religious text. He can do anything with a piece of prose, and it is a humbling experience to see him go to work on what has passed up till now as "modern fiction". He's so modern he's in a different time-space continuum from the rest of us. Goddamn him' Zadie Smith The mysterious disappearance of her great- grandmother and twenty-five other elderly inmates from a Shaker Heights nursing home has left Lenore Stonecipher Beadsman emotionally stranded on the edge of the Great Ohio Desert. But that is simply one problem of many for the hapless switchboard operator, seriously compounded by her ongoing affair with boss Rick Vigorous; the TV stardom of her talking cockatiel, Vlad the Impaler; and other minor catastrophes that threaten to elevate Lenore's search for love and self-detemination to new heights of spasmodic weirdness.

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Author information

David Foster Wallace is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, the Lannan Award for Fiction, the Paris Review's Aga Kahn Prize and John Train Prize for Humour, and the O. Henry Award. He lives in downstate Illinois.

Review quote

'Daring...hilarious...enigmatic...wonderfully odd... a zany picaresque adventure of contemporary America run amok' NEW YORK TIMES 'Dazzling...exhilarating...bizarre...sweepingly successful...engaging and haunting... a remarkable book with lots of prestidigitation in it... Wallace's talent is consistently impressive' SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE

Editorial reviews

This unusual debut, the first novel to be published simultaneously in hard-cover and as a paperback in Penguin's "Contemporary American Fiction" series, suffers from a severe case of manic impressiveness. Wallace, a recent Amherst grad, is something of a puerile Pynchon, a discount Don DeLillo, and even a bit of an original. Brimming with subplots, stories within stories, countless one-liners, and a cast of characters worthy of some sort of postmodern Dickens, this bulky fiction, when it isn't plain tedious, seems to he a big inside-joke. Almost every male in the book went to Amherst, from Rich Vigorous (class of '69), the head of Frequent and Vigorous Publishers, to Andrew Sealander "Wang-Dang" Lang (class of '82), a former frat boy and campus swell, now married to Mindy Metalman, a "Playboy-Playmatish JAP from Scarsdale," whom Wanger met one night on a roll to Holyoke. But that doesn't begin to explain how Vigorous, with his abnormally small penis, and the strapping preppy meet in Amherst in 1990, the year in which most of this self-consciously strange book takes place. The connection between them, and between just about everyone else here, from sexy Candy Mandible to cruel Stonecipher Beadsman III, is the former's roommate and the latter's daughter, Leonore Beadsman, an overeducated switchboard operator at the Bombardini Building in Cleveland, Ohio. That's not far from the corporate headquarters of Stonecipheco, the family-owned baby-food company in fierce competition with Gerber's. Also nearby is the nursing home from which Leonore's great-grandmother, a former student of Wittgenstein (that "mad crackpot genius"), has strangely disappeared, thus setting into motion the hyperactive narrative. Jokes about fiction by "a nastily troubled little collegiate mind" should give readers further reason to pause. Wallace dabbles in big ideas, with too many pseudo-Wittgensteinian pauses ("'. . . .'") and much callow satire on consumer/evangelical America. Despite flashes of real genius, it's a heady Animal House vision. (Kirkus Reviews)