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Home News by Category Infinite Jest Infinite Jest Reader's Guide 2nd Ed Review

Infinite Jest Reader's Guide 2nd Ed Review

My copy of Stephen Burn's, David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest, Second Edition: A Reader's Guide only arrived a couple of days ago and even just flicking through it and reading a couple of chapters I'm impressed with the significant changes and additions.

George Carr wrote a short review for me after I asked him if he'd like to expand on some brief comments he made on the wallace-l list serv. Over to George:


Professor Burn has heavily revised and expanded his Reader's Guide for its Second Edition. The first edition was my favorite of the 'first wave' of books on Wallace; it displayed more insight into Wallace's influences and motives than the rest, and it was written in an engaging style that illuminated the tensions and themes in Wallace's writing without spoiling its magic.

As good as the book was, the second edition is a much superior volume. It throws off the shackles of its original format, as part of a series covering many contemporary novels, and add significant new material discussing the structural complexity of the novel, Wallace's intertextual relationships with other novels and writers, and the subsequent novels that have responded to IJ. He also includes significant scholarship about Wallace's other writings, including a close reading of Wallace's shortest story that canonizes its place in his body of work.

For readers who are new to the novel, the book is an excellent digest of the book, its themes, and its influences. For those of us who know the work well, the book raises a panoply of provocative questions. Was Wallace really using the history of X-rays to structure the chronology of the story? Does the communication breakdown between Hal and James Incandenza really parallel the integration of Mexico into ONAN? Is Dymphna really a key figure in the novel's structure?

This book is simply essential for anyone curious about pulling back the curtain on IJ's structure and method, or exploring its many ambiguities.

Thanks, George.


Highly recommended. Grab it from Amazon: David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest, Second Edition: A Reader's Guide




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