Infinite Jest

In Praise of Narrative Ambiguity (or, Why You’ll Never “Solve” the ‘Mad Men’ Finale)

A strange thing happened on the Internet this morning: pretty much every news outlet, reputable and otherwise, that has any interest in Mad Men (so all of them, basically) reported that Matthew Weiner had explained the ending to the show’s last episode at a talk with novelist A.M. Homes last night. As an example of the perils of churnalism, it was pretty impressive, because if you watch the video of the event, Weiner does no such thing. Instead, he explains that the end of the show is as ambiguous as it appears: “People are like, ‘Which is it?’ and I’m like, ‘Well, why does it have to be one or the other?'” … Read More

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A New David Foster Wallace ‘Infinite Jest’ Interview Reveals the Book’s Boston Influences

“I like things about Boston, but I am not wired for the East Coast. For one thing it’s loud here,”… Read More

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Flavorwire Interview: The Hold Steady’s Craig Finn on Writing for Middle-Aged Bros, Slogging Through ‘Infinite Jest,’ and the ‘Fargo Rock City’ Movie

There are few bands left quite like the Hold Steady, and even fewer frontmen like Craig Finn. He’s the Hemingway of modern indie rock bros, known for his quick turns of phrase and his drawn-out tales about nights that are hard to remember (and the substances that fueled them). At 42 and with six Hold Steady albums under his belt, these days Finn comes across more as the Springsteen everyman when it comes to chronicling a distinctly American life. This week, as the Hold Steady release Teeth Dreams, we spoke to Finn, discussing writing about troubled women for large crowds of rowdy men, what he wish he’d known about tour buses when he was young, how long it took him to read Infinite Jest, his favorite rock bios and new albums, and what’s going on (or rather, what’s not going on) with his screenplay adaptation of Chuck Klosterman’s Fargo Rock City. … Read More

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An Annotated Guide to Last Nights ‘Parks and Recreation’ David Foster Wallace References

Yesterday, Parks and Recreation showrunner Michael Schur alerted us via tweet that last night’s episode would include “a few IJ references. [“A few” = like 18]).” While it seems a little strange for the show — we can’t imagine any of the characters (other than Ben, maybe) having a working knowledge of David Foster Wallace’s epic postmodern novel — it makes total sense for Michael Schur, an established fan, who directed The Decemberists’s Eschaton-themed video. Ultimately, the references amounted to name dropping, with only one really good joke, but we still got a lot of nerdy fun out of looking for them. After the jump, we break down all the David Foster Wallace references we spotted in last night’s episode of Parks and Rec. Did we miss any? Let us know what else you noticed in the comments. … Read More

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An ‘Infinite Map’ of David Foster Wallace’s North America

The futuristic Boston of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest is a place both familiar and strange to those who know the area, its real-life landmarks mingling with off-kilter fictional locations. Of course, with over 1000 pages and nearly 400 footnotes, it’s easy to get lost in the world Wallace creates. So we’re grateful to William Beutler for creating Infinite Atlas — a pretty, Google Maps-powered annotated guide to the city and surrounding area — and Infinite Map, a 24″ x 36″ poster of O.N.A.N. (the Organization of North American Nations that encompasses the United States, Canada, and Mexico), which is available for purchase. Both should be great tools for those about to take on the challenge of reading Infinite Jest, but even if you have no intention of picking up the book, just think how smart you’ll look to dates who to see the print hanging on your wall. Click through to get a closer look at Infinite Map. … Read More

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10 of the Best Practical Jokes in Literature

As you may be aware, today is April Fool’s day — and while we won’t be playing any childish pranks here at Flavorpill, we do enjoy a good practical joke or two, especially when said joke is fictional and thus lacking in real-world consequences. Kurt Vonnegut said, “All of fiction is a practical joke—making people care, laugh, cry or be nauseated or whatever by something which absolutely is not going on at all. It’s like saying, ‘Hey, your pants are on fire.'” That may be so, but there are just as many pranksters in the pages of books as there are holding the pens — some innocent, and some not so innocent. Note: practical jokes can range in severity and style, so just so we’re all on the same page, the definition we’re working with is “a mischievous trick played on a person, especially one that causes the victim to experience embarrassment, indignity, or discomfort.” Click through to read our list of ten of the best pranks and practical jokes in literature, and pitch in with any we’ve missed — or just watch Maya Angelou punk Stephen King and Jonathan Franzen. … Read More

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Awesome Tattoos Inspired by David Foster Wallace

Today would have been David Foster Wallace’s 50th birthday, and we think it’s safe to say that the entire literary world misses him dearly. Wallace has some of the most rabid fans of any author — poring over details, reading hundreds of pages of endnotes over and over, latching onto every piece of lore and scrap of ephemera, building photo tours of all the Boston buildings mentioned in Infinite Jest. If you need proof, just look at how many posthumous works on or by Wallace have cropped up in the relatively few years since his death (another book of unpublished essays is due out this fall). Many of these DFW enthusiasts have even gone the extra mile and tattooed the author’s words, or representations thereof, onto their bodies, cementing their connection to the luminous figure for all time. We can’t say we blame them. Click through to check out the DFW-related ink on some very devoted fans, and, if you’ve got ’em, let us know about your own literary tattoos in the comments. … Read More

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10 Fictional Games We'd Really Like to Play

Now that Labor Day has come and gone, it seems like the months for playing games are over — it’s time to hunker down and get serious as the weather gets colder. Not so! Even as the real life days get shorter and we’re forced inside, we can still live vicariously through our favorite fictional characters, whose games are never threatened by weather or sleepiness. There are about a million fictional games, documented in all mediums and genres, and though some of them have blossomed into a certain kind of reality — as you probably know, Muggle Quidditch is now a thing, as is the 3d chess from Star Trek — most remain just out of our reach. But we have hope! Click through to see our list of games and sports from literature, film, TV and comics that we’d like to play in real life, and let us know if we’ve missed any of your favorite fictional pastimes in the comments. … Read More

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Watch a Decemberists Video Inspired by ‘Infinite Jest’

The Decemberists have made their reputation on being indie rock’s most literary band, so we’re hardly surprised that they’ve made a music video inspired by David Foster Wallace. In an interview with NPR, Colin Meloy explained that he wrote The King Is Dead‘s “Calamity Song” after finishing Infinite Jest and realized that Wallace’s singular style of humor had impacted his own writing. With that in mind, Meloy said, “I had this funny idea that a good video for the song would be a re-creation of the Enfield Tennis Academy’s round of Eschaton — basically, a global thermonuclear crisis re-created on a tennis court — that’s played about a third of the way into the book.” That is exactly what happens in the excellent video below, directed by Parks and Recreation co-creator Michael Schur, who was delighted to participate in the project, telling NPR, “The Decemberists are my favorite band, and Infinite Jest is my favorite book.” … Read More

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A Visual Exploration of 'Infinite Jest'

This week, our friends at The Rumpus alerted us to an amazing new project that allows us to indulge our David Foster Wallace fandom/love of all things film-related/geeky sensibilities all at once, and in the best way: Poor Yorick Entertainment, created by Chris Ayers. The website, Ayers writes, is “a visual exploration of the filmography of James O. Incandenza and the world of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest… ‘Poor Yorick Entertainment’ is the name of the fictional independent film company started by James O. Incandenza in David Foster Wallace’s novel Infinite Jest. . . . This project is an attempt to bring some kind of visual life to the fictional filmmaker’s body of work.” Um, this is the best idea ever, and it isn’t only limited to fictional movie posters — though those are wonderful. Ayers also treats us to various other artifacts from the novel, so if you’re a fan, be prepared to grin your face off. Click through to see our favorites of Ayers’ work, and be sure to check out the main website for even more Infinite inspiration. … Read More

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