Infinite Jest: a scene-by-scene guide
Okay: If you've found this page, then you're already a bit obsessive about what I consider to be one of the best novels written in recent years. I first started this page after I volunteered to give a paper on Infinite Jest at an American Literature Association conference. Once I started thinking about writing about a book as huge and complex as Wallace's, I panicked and realized that I needed some kind of guide--a rough outline of sorts--to keep track of the different narrative streams and countless characters in the book. As the guide started to take shape, I realized that other fans of the novel might find such a document useful.
That said, I started a list just to keep track of the "chapter" and section divisions, also noting the subsidized year during which the scene takes place. Next, I needed to summarize what occurs in each passage: at first I wrote only simple phrases intended to remind myself of the scene's main events, but I soon ran into the problem of wanting to say too much about each scene. I'm sure you'll find my synopses terribly reductive (and even at times plain just plain inaccurate). I consider this page very unfinished and invite you to send expansions and corrections to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Warning to those of you who haven't finished reading the book: this guide reveals some of the events of the plot. If you're the kind of person who hates having the end of books spoiled, please hold off before scrolling down to the bottom of the guide--I wasn't careful about keeping certain plot elements a surprise.
Eventually, I'd like to expand this site, adding a list of characters and listing their appearance in accordance with the scene numbers in the guide. Also, there'll be a list of links (especially since there are a couple of great pages about David Foster Wallace out there) and maybe even (as people begin to write and publish articles about it) a bibliography of scholarship on Infinite Jest.
For now, here is the guide.