1. Darrell Standing
    Offline

    Darrell Standing Member

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2013
    Messages:
    88
    Likes Received:
    21

    Infinite Jest

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by Darrell Standing, Oct 17, 2013.

    Just wanting to know if anyone has read this book and what they think of it? I bought it the other day...I've heard David Foster Wallace was one of the best writers of his generation, and I've heard this is a tough read but worth it... I've listened to some of his interviews on youtube....the guy was a serious intellect and had lots of interesting things to say on American culture, consumerism and other matters. I think it was tragic and an awful pity such a killed himself, most of all because he was an important voice on his generation and the world around him... What do people on here think of him?
     
  2. Steerpike
    Online

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Messages:
    11,095
    Likes Received:
    5,305
    Location:
    California, US
    Just bought it over the weekend and it is next in line to be started. Never read anything else by him.
     
  3. Darrell Standing
    Offline

    Darrell Standing Member

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2013
    Messages:
    88
    Likes Received:
    21
    I've been reading random snippets...hilarious stuff
     
  4. thirdwind
    Offline

    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2008
    Messages:
    7,351
    Likes Received:
    2,891
    Location:
    Boston
    I've never read it, though I want to. I've watched a few videos of him as well, and he seems like an interesting guy and a writer whose work I would enjoy.
     
  5. Steerpike
    Online

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Messages:
    11,095
    Likes Received:
    5,305
    Location:
    California, US
    I'll probably start it this weekend. I usually keep a few books going at once. Just finishing up the latest Lee Child "Reacher" book, and I'm halfway through Robert Bolano's "The Savage Detectives."
     
  6. art
    Offline

    art Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2010
    Messages:
    1,159
    Likes Received:
    113
    One of my favourite writers. (Lacking readerly stamina) I perhaps prefer his essays over his fiction. While Infinite Jest is dazzling you might find the incessant and sometimes predictable cleverness a little tiring. The Pale King is quieter but more satisfying. Beautiful, in fact.
     
  7. chicagoliz
    Offline

    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 30, 2012
    Messages:
    3,295
    Likes Received:
    815
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    I'm interested in reading it, although I've been afraid to tackle it. The biography of him, though, is very good, and is now out in paperback -- Every Love Story is a Ghost Story.
     
  8. Steerpike
    Online

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Messages:
    11,095
    Likes Received:
    5,305
    Location:
    California, US
    Thanks for the info, Art. If I like Infinite Jest I will check out The Pale King as well. Always looking for good stuff to read.
     
  9. 123456789
    Offline

    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2012
    Messages:
    6,346
    Likes Received:
    3,092
    I haven't finished it yet, sadly.

    It's funny how he switches up styles. Some narrators leave me going "wtf." There's a scene, early on, where the grandfather of one of the MC is giving a speech to his young child about tennis and Marlon Brando. That section was an absolute page turner and one of the best excerpts I've ever read. Brilliantly done.
     
  10. Lemex
    Offline

    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2007
    Messages:
    10,507
    Likes Received:
    3,151
    Location:
    Northeast England
    I really should give this a read. I keep seeing it around too, saw it last month in a second hand book shop going for £1.70 and I'm still trying to work out why I didn't pick it up.
     
  11. art
    Offline

    art Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2010
    Messages:
    1,159
    Likes Received:
    113
    If you are outrageously niggardly ;), and need convincing of DFW's excellence, you can access many of his essays here:

    http://tetw.org/David_Foster_Wallace

    His essays do carry quite a lot of the flavour of his fiction.
     
    DanM likes this.
  12. Steerpike
    Online

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Messages:
    11,095
    Likes Received:
    5,305
    Location:
    California, US
    @art

    I looked at The Pale King. It interests me, but I read that it was unfinished at the time of Wallace's death. How did the unfinished nature of the novel impact your enjoyment? It does not appear to have done so to any great extent, based on what you said above, but I'm curious as to your thoughts on this.
     
  13. art
    Offline

    art Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2010
    Messages:
    1,159
    Likes Received:
    113
    Not only unfinished but there was no outline for the work. The editor was faced with piles of unordered chapters which he then organised into the whole.

    Unfinished but the ending felt right. Aesthetic coherence if you like.

    As you'll know, Wallace was far from a genre writer and produced work that tended towards the episodic, the fragmentary. He is an unrivalled writer of set-pieces imo. On that basis alone the book delivers.

    Edited to add: Apparently a recently released pb version has 4 additional chapters tacked on at the end. Some have said these addtiions have not helped the sense of coherence/wholeness.
     
    Steerpike likes this.
  14. DanM
    Offline

    DanM Member

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2013
    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    6
    Thanks @art for posting that link. Like many others I'm too intimidated (and short on reading time) to tackle Infinite Jest - so hopefully these essays will give me a taste of his work.
     
  15. aikoaiko
    Offline

    aikoaiko Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2013
    Messages:
    285
    Likes Received:
    153
    David Foster Wallace, for me, is one of those authors who can be identified as a genius instantly. There are many good (and great) authors out there, but when you first pick up his work (particularly Infinite Jest---I haven't yet read The Pale King) you are positively floored. There's repetition, that's true, and it can be very slow to get through due to the density of the material and a mind that literally moved at the speed of light (lol), but when you see it you know you are in the presence of a master, and that is a rare, rare thing:). It is definitely worth a read, and though it will take you time to finish, it is definitely worth the effort.
     
  16. Mackers
    Offline

    Mackers Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2012
    Messages:
    433
    Likes Received:
    268
    Location:
    Co. Tyrone, Ireland
    Stylistically, I really hated this book. I gave it my best but couldn't get through more than a couple of hundred pages. The footnotes, for example, meant I'd have to continually flick a big heavy book back and forth every time I wanted to read a foot note. I also thought the prose was very purple/dense, and there'd be so much words and not a lot happening if truth be told. It's a matter of taste, I suppose :) Some people seem to love the book (I bought it on others' reccomendations) and fair play to them
     
  17. We Are Cartographers
    Offline

    We Are Cartographers Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2009
    Messages:
    206
    Likes Received:
    213
    .
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2014
  18. Lemex
    Offline

    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2007
    Messages:
    10,507
    Likes Received:
    3,151
    Location:
    Northeast England
    Sorry for resurrecting this thread, but what is this book actually like?

    I'm haunting a literature-dedicated place elsewhere on the net and the people there are raving about how good it is. I've heard from my actual, real-life friends, though, that it's pretty dire.

    Is it something like complex Pynchon, Delillo's Underworld? Is it still worth checking out?
     
  19. Hubardo
    Offline

    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2014
    Messages:
    1,075
    Likes Received:
    566
    Yeah, like Dave Eggers. DFW is good and stuff, but that element of his writing style seems self-congratulatory to me. Also, I don't really want to read a million pages of something of that style. It's a character defect of mine maybe, but I don't want to read a million pages of anything really.
     

Share This Page