[Ed. note: I usually don’t preface these one-star Amazon selection riffs with much, other than to note the occasion for the post. In this case, the occasion is my coming to the end of a second reading of Pynchon’s novel Gravity’s Rainbow, a novel that is very much about the military-industrial-entertainment complex. And so well anyway, I keep thinking about Infinite Jest, which I have not read in full since 2002, but plan to reread later this summer. I expected Pynchon to show up a few times in the one-star reviews, but he’s present throughout, often obliquely referenced. Otherwise, the one-star reviews are typical: Rants against academia, “literary elites,” etc. The term “self-indulgent” appears again and again. Only one reviewer bothers to engage the plot though.
Update: I ran this post (minus this update) in the summer of 2015; I’m running it again because today’s the 20th anniversary of IJ’s publication]
spawn of PC Elitist writers
reads like a math textbook
This is the T.S. Eliot Effect
terminally adolescent drivel.
The footnotes have footnotes.
Big words and run-on sentences
utterly lacking in aesthetic merit
I only read the first 50 pages or so
wow, that’s a heck of a lot of words.
challenging, involving, and horrifying
A humorous book? – no. Absurd – Yes.
never made it to the end of chapter one.
I never did get through Gravity’s Rainbow
the magnum opus of American hipsterism.
the worst science fiction novel ever written.
If you like Pynchon, fine, go ahead, you’ll like this.
over a hundred pages of notes that serve no purpose
I pride myself on being an intelegent well read person
At least Pynchon, has humor, literary references, etc.
He probably sold more books on hype than on talent.
All in all, I suppose Wallace will just become a footnote.
this book(?) would not be worth the money if it was free
I trie d to think of Catcher in the Rye, but no comparison.
If you want to be warm, burn your overrated copy of Infinite Jest.
Wallace makes up words which does not help one reading a story.
I think it was in that book that I learned the word “omphaloskepsis.”
I’ll bet Dave had to beat off the nubile young co-eds after they read this one
obviously didn’t follow Elmore Leonard’s last tenet of his “10 Rules for Writing”
I suppose that some might consider Wallace a great writer, but was he popular?
It’s written in the first-person from the point of view of a mentally ill teenager.
he filled it with worthless footnotes that pretend to enlighten the victim of his prose
I just don’t understand how my fellow Amazon reviewers could have scored this book highly.
I realize that this book is considered to be “literature” but IMHO the internal ravings of mentally ill people isn’t literature.
It is called “INFINITE JETS” but there is not a single aircraft within, in fact the book is about people on land with drugs problems.
The book contains an anecdote plagiarized from the humorist, Gerard Hoffnung, who recorded it in the 1950s.
700 pages of clumsy sci-fi and the kind of smarty pants absurdist nonsense you’d expect from a precocious middle schooler
The premise for this novel derives from a Monty Python sketch in which the world’s funniest joke is also fatal.
Oh one other thing that drove me crazy: he started so many sentences with “And but so..” or “So but and…”
if Finnegans Wake was a rancid fart that was proudly left to rip, Infinite Jest is a weak one, lacking sound and odor.
Just a bunch of irrelevant words to set the scene…. not to mention he described everything into painful detail.
a kid thinks he’s going to the dentist but it’s really some sort of counselor and they have a long battle of wits to see which one of them is the bigger booger-eating nerd
DWF is desperately trying to emulate one of the century’s greatest authors, and utterly fails.
Put down the bong, go outside and get some real world experience before putting pen to paper.
Comparing Wallace to Pynchon is like comparing a kettle of sponges to Disney World
Academics also praise it as a badge of courage for (allegedly) reading it
It’s just the narrator’s interior thoughts about trying to buy drugs.
I was two pages in and started to feel confused, zoned out, and lost.
It reads like the stream of consciousness of a spoiled 10th grader.
What I read would have gotten an F in a freshman writing class.
The style is Pynchon. And by style, I mean, an exact duplication
At least, now I know where Dave Eggers ripped off his garbage
sorry Amazon,you definitely missed the boat with this one.
completely lacking in any kind of moral or ethical center
He and this book are simply silly, and a waste of pulp.
Book was a work of art, one I wasted my time viewing.
seems to spend forever talking about tennis and drugs
Characters are unbelievable and are over analyzed
Sure, he was making good points, for the 1990s!
Reading a thesaurus does not count as research.
Over 1000 pages of pseudo-subersiveness.
It’s the tyranny of the English Deparment
I only read about four percent of the book
For my taste, there were too many words
I think his suicide inflated his reviews.
I still feel awful thinking about it.
Bad read no stars.
…is this an essay?