Reviews of Infinite Jest
September 21, 2008 - The New Canon - Ted Gioia: "Yet this flamboyant novel is also one of the most down-to-earth books you will ever read. At its very core, this book is a critique of flashiness and attitude, and argues for a healthy distrust of irony and intellectualizing. Here is my verdict: Infinite Jest has a heart of gold. The viewpoints it presents with the greatest vividness are so simple that, at times, they come across as truisms and clichés. But, again and again, our author forces the dead cliché back to life— which may be one of the most difficult tasks any author can face. Wallace’s ability to marry this austere and unadorned core of his vision to the grand superstructures of his interlinking tales is one of the most compelling aspects to a novel that is rich in things to admire. Read the review »
February 2, 2007 - The Times Literary Supplement - Stephen Burn: "Infinite Jest is a sprawling tour de force, which is often melancholy, funny and essayistic within the space of a few pages, and almost every page is rich with the local pleasures of Wallace's ability to render the ordinary in un usual and imaginative ways. His prose runs from the basically imitative mimicking the sound of a can of Seven-Up being opened ("SPFFFT") and then being gulped down by a greedy eleven-year-old ("SHULGSPAHH") to the literary the claustrophobic description of eyes closing in the face of Arizona sunlight to encounter "the darkness of the red cave that opens out before closed eyes." Read the review »
February 1996 - Atlantic Monthly - Sven Birkerts: "Infinite Jest comes, in time, to seem like some great clattering vehicle that is powered by a rudimentary three-stroke engine, the narrative passing in steady sequence from Enfield to Ennet to a plateau lookout in the Southwest where two Québecois-separatist agents are having a secret rendezvous, trying to determine how their people might get hold of a particular "cartridge," or film cassette. The film, the eponymous "Infinite Jest," was made by James Incandenza and has the terrifying capacity to send anyone who views it into a crazed state of fixation that quickly leads to death. Why or how this should be is never made clear, nor do we expect it to be." Read the review »
February 19, 1996 - TIME Magazine - R. Z. Sheppard: "Wallace juggles all this and more with dizzying complexity. You can sign on for the long haul or wait for some post-Pynchon academic to parse it out. Or you can just wade in, enjoy Wallace's maximalist style and hope that unlike the fatal film, Infinite Jest, the novel won't ... ARRRRRRGH!" Read the review »
February 13, 1996 - New York Times - Michiko Kakutani: "Somewhere in the mess, the reader suspects, are the outlines of a splendid novel, but as it stands the book feels like one of those unfinished Michelangelo sculptures: you can see a godly creature trying to fight its way out of the marble, but it's stuck there, half excavated, unable to break completely free." Read the review » ..
February 12, 1996 - Newsweek - David Gates: "So what is this creepily entrancing novel actually about? You asked for it. O.N.A.N. (the Organization of North American Nations) has made northern New England into a Lucite-walled dump, where toxic waste fuels mutagenic fusion reactions. This worthless, hazardous territory has been given to Canada, and wheelchair-bound Quebecois terrorists plan to retaliate with widespread dissemination of the lethal amusement "Infinite Jest." Seeking the master copy, the Wheelchair Assassins close in on the film's veiled, disfigured star and on the filmmaker's son -- none other than the teen tennis whiz Hal Incandenza." Read the review »
February 12, 1996 - Newsday - Dan Cryer: "If you believe the hype, David Foster Wallace is about to be crowned the next heavyweight of American fiction. And the accolade is probably deserved. At the very least, Infinite Jest, his new, 1,079-page novel (including 90 pages devoted to esoteric endnotes), gives a whole new twist to the word "infinite." This huge volume will prop open even a castle's gates. Of course, it's exhausting to read such a mega-book. This is the age of the sound bite. But diving into the riches of Infinite Jest is also an exhilarating, breathtaking experience. This book teems with so much life and death, so much hilarity and pain, so much gusto in the face of despair that one cheers for the future of our literature." Read the review »