Infinite Jest

Author
David Foster Wallace
Year of publication
1996
When I read it
A bunch of times
What I thought

Really fucking good

Choice Highlights

American experience seems to suggest that people are virtually unlimited in their need to give themselves away, on various levels. Some just prefer to do it in secret.

Something they seem to omit to mention in Boston AA when you’re new and out of your skull with desperation and ready to eliminate your map and they tell you how it’ll all get better and better as you abstain and recover: they somehow omit to mention that the way it gets better and you get better is through pain. Not around pain, or in spite of it.

It starts to turn out that the vapider the AA cliché, the sharper the canines of the real truth it covers.

Administrative assistants worth their health benefits are synaptically evolved to the point where they can banter, accept compliments on a Spandex-and-tulle ensemble, effortlessly deflect unauthorized info-probes, listen to something bass-intensive on personal-stereo headphones, and word-process effortlessly to the headphones’ backbeat, all simultaneously.

He and Hal exchanged the very slight sorts of nods people use when they like each other past all need for politeness.

…the dentist’s office had had a weird sharp clean sweet smell about it, the olfactory equivalent of fluorescent light.

The older Mario gets, the more confused he gets about the fact that everyone at E.T.A. over the age of about Kent Blott finds stuff that’s really real uncomfortable and they get embarrassed. It’s like there’s some rule that real stuff can only get mentioned if everybody rolls their eyes or laughs in a way that isn’t happy.

Krause never so much walking as making an infinite series of grand entrances into pocket after pocket of space…

…the lively arts of the millennial U.S.A. treat anhedonia and internal emptiness as hip and cool. It’s maybe the vestiges of the Romantic glorification of Weltschmerz, which means world-weariness or hip ennui.

Orin’s basic childhood memory of Jim had been of an expressionless stare from a great height.

Never trust a man on the subject of his own parents.

No one single instant of it was unendurable.

Remote-site journalists used such words as emergent, individual, alleged, utilize, and developing. But all this impersonal diction was preceded by the anchorperson’s first name, as if the report were part of an intimate conversation.