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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.

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4.1 out of 5
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  • 8 person found this review helpful

    8 people found this review helpful

    8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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    Phenomenal; Not as tough as it's reputation

    Infinite Jest has a reputation for being one of those books that everyone starts and no one finishes. People say it's too long; too difficult. I did find it a bit of a slog for the first 100 pages, but once I learned to trust that the author would fill in the blanks for me over time, everything became awesome. An incredible work of humour and gravitas. I can't recommend it enough.

  • 2 person found this review helpful

    2 people found this review helpful

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    Long, but entertaining and rewarding

    The short review of this book: some few parts of I.J. can be a little slow and drag on, and it is certainly a "challenging "read (as it was intended to be) but as a whole it is a very rewarding book; not rewarding because it took so long to complete but rewarding because of the ideas suggested and the manner in which they were portrayed. Every character is enjoyable, or at the very least an interesting subject which contributes to how captivating the novel is. Overall I.J. was worth the 1000+ pages (and lengthy footnotes) and changed the way I think about how a book should read, which I think is a marker of a truly great (and epic) novel. The long review of this book (and some suggestions if you plan on buying I.J.): Like the first review on here, you really do have to trust the layout of the novel and that David Foster Wallace will fill in the many blanks, found throughout, later on. As I noted at the start of the review, this can challenge the reader as big pieces of the plot are (sometimes subtly) answered in response to questions that were introduced in some cases many a chapters ago. I found myself jumping back to to different chapters throughout the book to ensure that I was comprehending these fragmented pieces of plot. In light of this I think that next time I read I.J. (I'll explain later why I'm actually going to re-read this whale of a book again) I think I'm going to buy a physical copy of this book so I can bookmark different chapters and footnotes because I found it really difficult to jump exactly where I wanted to on my e-reader (but to defend the e-reader when it comes to reading the book linearly, just touching the footnote number automatically takes you to the footnote which makes the process faster... which is nice because there are over 300 footnotes). To get more into the layout of I.J. (without revealing any spoilers), I'd say that as a whole roughly the first half of the book is comprised of a few slow parts (as DFW introduces the world of I.J.) and some challenging parts (e.g. reading along and not really knowing what the hell is going on- just trust that that will all be answered- and I found quite a few chapters were loaded with words I'd never heard before [actually another case for an e-reader that gives you the definition of a word when you touch it]). But what kept me engaged was the general story line as well as some chapters and segments of the novel which were written to absolute perfection. DFW can really craft a paragraph (even if that paragraph is just one long run on sentence) in the most smooth, comprehensive way in the sense that you can truly feel the mood and scene of that part of the story. I will be honest about a third of the way through the book I took almost two months off of reading it because I felt I was getting no where. In light of this comes the second half of the book which I found really picked up in story line, a lot of questions began getting answered, and I was glued to the page until the very end. In short, do not give up halfway or a quarter way through this novel, as you'll be missing out in the end. One last thing I have to mention before I finish this up in order to really campaign this book is the light parts and the heavy parts throughout I.J. I found these really gave the book a unique personality. I think a big reason I enjoyed I.J. is due to it's comic side; characters such as Pemulis, Troelsch, Marathe, the general concept of the Wheelchair Assassins, and just some of the ways DFW crafts a sentence had me laughing out loud often. I rated Infinite Jest 4 of 5 stars because I found that with the long break I took part way through the book I forgot some key parts to the plot line and I think this kept me from really grasping the entirety of what DFW wanted to get out with the novel which is why I'm keen on re-reading this book eventually. It's certainly challenged me as a reader (a large part as to why I'm open to a re-read) and once you read the book you'll find that that in itself is a major idea put out in I.J. I'm confident that once I go over it again I'll give it a 5 of 5 stars.


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