Infinite Jest
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Infinite Jest

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Description

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.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 1079 pages
  • 165.1 x 236.22 x 60.96mm | 1,202.01g
  • Little, Brown & Company
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0316920045
  • 9780316920049
  • 6,511

Back cover copy

Infinite Jest is the name of a movie said to be so entertaining that anyone who watches it loses all desire to do anything but watch it. People die happily, viewing it in endless repetition. The novel Infinite Jest is the story of this addictive entertainment, and in particular how it affects a Boston halfway house for recovering addicts and a nearby tennis academy, whose students have many budding addictions of their own. As the novel unfolds, various individuals, organizations, and governments vie to obtain the master copy of Infinite Jest for their own ends, and the denizens of the tennis school and the halfway house are caught up in increasingly desperate efforts to control the movie - as is a cast including burglars, transvestite muggers, scam artists, medical professionals, pro football stars, bookies, drug addicts both active and recovering, film students, political assassins, and one of the most endearingly messed-up families ever captured in a novel. On this outrageous frame hangs an exploration of essential questions about what entertainment is, and why it has come to so dominate our lives; about how our desire for entertainment interacts with our need to connect with other humans; 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. The huge cast and multilevel narrative serve a story that accelerates to a breathtaking, heartbreaking, unforgettable conclusion. It is an exuberant, uniquely American exploration of the passions that make us human - and one of those rare books that renew the very idea of what a novelcan do.show more

About David Foster Wallace

David Foster Wallace was born in Ithaca, New York, in 1962 and raised in Illinois, where he was a regionally ranked junior tennis player. He received bachelor of arts degrees in philosophy and English from Amherst College and wrote what would become his first novel, The Broom of the System, as his senior English thesis. He received a masters of fine arts from University of Arizona in 1987 and briefly pursued graduate work in philosophy at Harvard University. His second novel, Infinite Jest, was published in 1996. Wallace taught creative writing at Emerson College, Illinois State University, and Pomona College, and published the story collections Girl with Curious Hair, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, Oblivion, the essay collections A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, and Consider the Lobster. He was awarded the MacArthur Fellowship, a Lannan Literary Award, and a Whiting Writers' Award, and was appointed to the Usage Panel for The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. He died in 2008. His last novel, The Pale King, was published in 2011.show more

Review Text

An ambitious and frequently brilliant fictional exploration of the pursuit of pleasure and its ramifying consequences, by the antic author of Girl with Curious Hair (1989), etc. In a manner both reminiscent and imitative of Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow (1973), Wallace traces the sometimes connected fortunes of two dozen or so addicted and obsessed souls variously involved with: the authoritarian cultivation of young minds and especially bodies at the Enfield (Mass.) Tennis Academy; the supervision of AA and NA (Narcotics Anonymous) patients at Ennet House, a Boston-area rehab facility; and the necessarily clandestine activities of the US Office of Unspecified Services, which takes a dim and paranoid view of what most Americans accept as entertainment. And there's undoubtedly a link between the US tour planned by a Quebec tennis team and the machinations of Quebecois separatists, notably the Dr. Strangelovian Remy Marathe, a triple- or possibly quadruple-agent struggling with his own surreptitious needs. In nearly a thousand pages of text and another hundred of amplificatory "Notes and Errata," Wallace plays a skillful set of exhaustive variations on these related plots and motifs (deformity and addiction crop up repeatedly). Major characters are the remarkable Incandenza brothers: tennis phenom and autodidact Harold, his brothers Orin and natally challenged Marion ("the family's real prodigy, an in-bent savant-type genius of no classifiable type"), their unconventional mother Avril ("the Moms") and late father James (a suicide), whose career as an independent filmmaker will cast long shadows over his survivors' lives. They're surrounded, balanced, and thrown into fractious comic relief by such figures as the aforementioned Marathe, U.S.O.S. Chief Rodney Tine, and drug-ridden, violence-prone Don Gately, who labors erratically to save others and himself within the Stygian confines of Ennet House. It's a raucous, Falstaffian, deadly serious vision of a cartwheeling culture in the self-pleasuring throes of self-destruction, marred only by its author's unaccountable fondness for farcical acronyms (also from Pynchon) and dumb jokes (not that there aren't dozens of good ones as well). Almost certainly the biggest and boldest novel we'll see this year and, flaws and all, probably one of the best. (Kirkus Reviews)show more