David Foster Wallace interview on “Infinite Jest” on WPR (1996)

“Infinite Jest” is a 1996 novel by David Foster Wallace. The lengthy and complex work takes place in a North American dystopia, centering on a junior tennis academy and a nearby substance-abuse recovery center. The novel touches on many topics, including addiction and recovery, suicide, family relationships, entertainment and advertising, film theory, United States-Canada relations (as well as Quebec separatism), and tennis. The novel includes 388 endnotes that cap almost a thousand pages of prose, which, together with its detailed fictional world, have led to its categorization as an encyclopedic novel.
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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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