The First Draft Version of Infinite Jest


Steven Moore



David Foster Wallace began working on his second novel in the fall of 1991—the outgrowth of an essay he wrote that season called “Derivative Sport in Tornado Alley”—and by the fall of 1993 had completed a working draft. He made two photocopies of the manuscript, sent one to Michael Pietsch, his editor at Little, Brown, and loaned the second to a young woman whom he was trying to impress at the time (he later told me). Pietsch was enthusiastic about the manuscript but asked Wallace to consider shortening it, so Dave asked me if I’d be willing to read it and suggest cuts. (At that time we were both working in the same town, Normal, Illinois: Dave taught at Illinois State University, and I was managing editor of the Review of Contemporary Fiction/Dalkey Archive Press, located on ISU’s campus.) Dave’s plan was to compare Pietsch’s suggested cuts with mine, and accept the ones on which we both agreed. (He also explained he was planning to add more material, though.) I instantly agreed, jokingly adding the condition that I could keep the manuscript afterward. (I would have read it anyway.) Dave agreed, and on 3 December 1993 he gave me the huge manuscript. I needed both hands to support it.

            Why me? I guess because I’d been an early supporter of his. (What follows sounds uncomfortably like tooting my own horn, so I’ll keep it brief.) I had read The Broom of the System when it was published in 1987 and had been very impressed; even if not an entirely successful novel, it struck me as written by someone possessed of genius. A few months later I was invited to guest-edit a special issue of the Review of Contemporary Fiction to be called “Novelist As Critic.” It amounted to little more than inviting my favorite novelists to contribute an essay on any literary topic, the working assumption (which I still hold) being that novelists write better criticism than most professional critics. Since all of the authors I invited were well along in their careers, I thought I should have at least one emerging writer, so I wrote to Wallace in care of his publisher and invited him to submit something, an offer he found “intriguing” (he had never written an essay for publication before). His “Fictional Futures and the Conspicuously Young” appeared in the fall 1988 issue and confirmed my impression that he was brilliant. (Our typesetter, on the other hand—a wonderful middle-aged woman who had her doubts about much of the stuff we published—thought he sounded snotty.)

            We stayed in touch. I suggested Conjunctions as someplace he might submit future stories (he’d never heard of it). For the summer 1989 issue of RCF,whose staff I had joined by that time, I wrote a favorable review of Girl with Curious Hair, and along about then I invited him to contribute to a special issue we were planning on novelist David Markson. Wallace was going through a difficult period, but he came through with another brilliant essay, “The Empty Plenum: David Markson’s Wittgenstein’s Mistress” (RCF Summer 1990), which did nothing to alter our typesetter’s opinion of him but certainly kept my mine sky-high. In 1992 I informed him of an opening in the English department at ISU, for which he applied and was accepted, and later that year guest-editor Larry McCaffery and I decided he had to be part of the “Younger Writers Issue” we were planning for the summer 1993 RCF. For that Wallace submitted what would become his most famous essay, “E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction” (which had been rejected by Harper’s because of its length) along with several selections of what he had finally decided to call Infinite Jest. (As late as January 1993 he was calling it simply the “longer thing.”) So perhaps all this support, plus similar tastes in fiction (we both revere William Gaddis, for example), led him to entrust me with his manuscript.

            First, a physical description: It’s a mess—a patchwork of different fonts and point sizes, with numerous handwritten corrections/additions on most pages, and paginated in a nesting pattern (e.g., p. 22 is followed by 22A-J before resuming with p. 23, which is followed by 23A-D, etc). Much of it is single-spaced, and what footnotes existed at this stage appear at the bottom of pages. (Most of those in the published book were added later.) Several states of revision are present: some pages are early versions, heavily overwritten with changes, while others are clean final drafts. Throughout there are notes in the margins, reminders to fix something or other, adjustments to chronology (which seems to have given Wallace quite a bit of trouble), even a few drawings and doodles. Merely flipping through the 4-inch-high manuscript would give even a seasoned editor the howling fantods.

            What follows is a description of its contents. I’ll cite the manuscript page numbers (hereafter abbreviated MS), and following an = sign will give the equivalent pages in the published version of Infinite Jest (hereafter abbreviated IJ), unless the section was cut, in which case I’ll provide a brief summary. (For copyright reasons I’ll have to keep my quotations of unpublished material to a minimum.) And I’ll add color commentary on points that may be of interest to future scholars.



Title page. Typewritten: “First Two Sections / Infinite Jest,” followed by the name and address of Wallace’s agent, Bonnie Nadell. (No subtitle; Chris Hager says Wallace wanted to subtitle the novel “a failed entertainment,” but that must have been added later, and then rejected by the publisher.) Handwritten are various notes Wallace wrote to himself, e.g., “Mid-East attaché in Mexico City. ‘Good bit of Mexico not answering its phone,’” and what looks like “DMZ is ultimate phenomenal speed—halluce—believe you have radically sped up, whole world slow, ESP, no speech—Death[.] See Wraith & Gately.” Other notes concern Mrs. Gately’s stroke and the correct spelling of millennium.

A-B. “Preliminary Throat-Clearings.” These two pages contain the dedication to Fenton Foster (whom Wallace identified as “My mother’s father, who died before I was born” in an interview with Valerie Stivers []), an epigraph—“Sorrow brings forth” from Blake’s Marriage of Heaven and Hell—followed by various definitions of addict and addiction. The first is taken from the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, New College Edition, and the rest from Hal’s beloved Oxford English Dictionary, including some illustrative quotations. Two of the more relevant ones: “A man who causes grief to his family by addiction to bad habits” (Mill, Liberty) and “Each man to what sports and revels his addiction leads him” (Shakespeare, Othello 2.2.6). Wallace cut this Moby-Dick-like opening and decided to let Hal summarize his findings: “The original sense of addiction involved being bound over, dedicated, either legally or spiritually. To devote one’s life, plunge in. I had researched this” (IJ 900).

1-5 = IJ 27-31. The novel originally began with Hal’s interview with his father disguised as a “professional conversationalist.” This makes thematic sense since Jim Incandenza’s failure to communicate with his son leads him to create the Infinite Jest cartridge, but in my report to Wallace I wrote: “this is wild & funny, but rather too much so; that is, it differs from the rest of the book so much in tone & content that it will give the reader the wrong idea of what kind of novel this is going to be.” (I suggested he begin instead with what is now IJ 200-11.) The date gave Wallace some trouble: the chapter was originally dated Year of the Perdue Wonderchicken, then changed to Trial-Size Dove Bar before settling on Year of the Tucks Medicated Pad. (Handwritten note: “Incandenza needs to suicide in Year of Dove Bar.”) Likewise with Hal’s age: Wallace originally typed: “I’ll be 14 in December,” then crossed it out and wrote 13. The first edition of the novel reads “I’ll be thirteen” (p. 27) but the paperback edition reads “I’ll be eleven.” (N.B.: Wallace made numerous corrections for the paperback edition of 1997, so that edition is the one scholars should use. Put a Mylar cover on the pretty hardback and leave it on the shelf.) Another interesting change: instead of a crisis in southern Quebec (IJ 29) Wallace originally set the crisis in Sierra Leone.

5A-F = IJ 42-49. The MS. supplies the names of some of Orin’s “Subjects”: instead of “The Subject after Bain’s sister but before the one just before this one” (IJ 47) Wallace wrote: “The woman after Helen Slansker and before Binnie van Vleck” (MS 5D). Leaving them nameless better conveys Orin’s attitude toward women. (Orin was originally called Cully.) Test-subject Fenton (IJ 48; note dedicatee above) was originally called Curtis. For Helen Slansker, see 56-56A below.

6-15 = IJ 17-26. Erdedy’s dealer “had promised to get him a fifth of a kilogram of marijuana, 200 grams of unusually good marijuana, for $1250 U.S.” (IJ 18), metricized and inflated from the MS’s “She had promised to get him a quarter of a pound of marijuana, four ounces of unusually good marijuana, for $550.00” (MS 6).

15A = IJ 32-33.

16-17 = IJ 37-38. Delores Epps’s brother was originally named Rodney, then Londell, before Wallace settled on Columbus Epps (IJ 38).

17A-C = IJ 33-37. Nass, “the Arabic-language video edition of April’s Self magazine” (IJ 36) was originally an unnamed Arabic edition of Harper’s Bazaar. The MS chapter ends “the viewer’s digital display reads 7:20PM” instead of the book’s “1927h” (IJ 37). Throughout the MS time is given the old-fashioned way.

18-20 = IJ 39-42. There is no reference to Puccini’s Tosca (IJ 41) in the MS version.

20A = IJ 42. Time adjusted from 8:00PM to 2010h.

21 = IJ 38-39. The MS describes Mildred Bonk as “The kind of dreadful female figure who glides through the sweaty junior-high corridors of a nocturnal emitter’s dreamscape.” Wallace’s revision to “fatally pretty and nubile wraithlike figure” (IJ 38) anticipates the Joelle van Dyne/Jim Incandenza as wraith/fatal cartridge developments in the novel. The succinct, alliterative summary “A vision in a sundress and silly shoes” (IJ 39) replaces the more fanciful MS version: “A vision. A nymph, you would have described her as. Ninth-grade rumor had it she didn’t even go to the bathroom: small forest animals descended with coos and twitters and took the stuff away, inessential as talc, the peristalsand of a creature that lives on light.” (That p-word means the product of peristalsis, the involuntary contractions that force waste through the alimentary canal.)

21A-B: cut. A brief episode set in the Year of the Perdue Wonderchicken describing Avril Incandenza in a post-coital moment with unnamed older lover in the headmaster house’s master bedroom in Enfield, before racing to the airport to pick up her “husband and son.”

21-22 = IJ 130. An early version of the mugging of Burt F. Smith by Poor Tony.

22A-G = IJ 49-54. Jim Struck was originally called Rutherford Poat here and elsewhere in the MS. This is the first point in the MS where footnotes are used (=IJ 983-84, nn. 5-9); a note indicates Wallace intended to include an ONANTA Jr. Tournament Schedule as Appendix X. (The only appendix in the MS is Incandenza’s filmography.) The book version of this chapter is much more detailed than the MS, which concludes more abruptly and with an unexpected pronoun: “It’s unclear to me whether or not this is a bad thing.”

22G-1 = IJ 54. Time adjusted from 12:15AM to 0015h.

22H-J: cut. Dated Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment, this is a first-person account by Hal of his mother’s grammar class, including a sample final exam. (E.g. “Briefly explain why phrase-structure rules alone are insufficient for the explication of the following clause—‘I had three books stolen.’”) Several questions have to do with the grammatical structure of “the opening independent clause of the L. and A. Maude translation of Tolstoi’s Anna Karenina—‘All happy families resemble one another, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.’” (The wide diversity of unhappy families in IJ could be generated from this classic opening sentence.) There is a reference to the exam on IJ 95. Hal also comments on how Enfield training prepares one to handle “surreal panic.”

22-23: cut. A young Jim Incandenza tells of a night he accompanied his father to kill a particularly large black widow spider. The episode begins: “I have one sober memory of my father. . . .”; cf. IJ157-69, a different memory of Jim’s father.

23A-D = IJ 60-63, 67-68. The longer book version dwells more on Troelsch’s symptoms, while the MS recounts one of his dreams. The passage on IJ 67-68 is labeled “HAL SOLIL[OQUY]” in the MS., which contains an X’ed out earlier version of this passage (MS 23-24).

24-32 = IJ 68-78. Kate’s remark “I was going to say I’ve thought sometimes before like the feeling maybe had to do with Hope” (IJ 75) originally detoured into to this comic exchange:

            ‘I was about to say I’ve thought before it seems like it maybe has something to do with pot.’

                The doctor’s eyebrows became angled with puzzlement before he could stop them. ‘A pot?’

                ‘Oh for Christ’s sake. Yes, a pot, this piece of cookware my dear sainted mother used to abuse me with.’ She saw his pen dip toward her chart. ‘No, the bloodbath guy, in Cambodia, with the fields. Jesus what am I doing here. Pot. Bob Hope. Smoke.’ She made a quick joint-gesture with thumb and finger held to rounded lips.

Kate’s reference at the end of the chapter to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest—“That old cartridge, Nichols and the big Indian” (IJ 78)—originally read “That old Jack Nicholson movie” (MS 32). Interesting that Wallace would have Kate misremember the famous actor’s name, while making her smart enough to know of the killing fields of Cambodian dictator Pol Pot (1928-98).

32A = IJ 78=79. Time adjusted from 1:00 to 0145h.

32-38 = IJ 79-85. The Nick Bollettieri camp (IJ 79) was originally called a Harry Hopman tennis camp. Next to the physical description of Schtitt (MS 33; IJ 80) Wallace wrote “vampirish-looking.” Incandenza’s founding Latin motto (IJ 81) was originally LARVARDUS PRODEO—a slip for Larvatus prodeo, “I advance masked,” which was the young Descartes’ motto. “Schtitt was educated in pre-Unification Gymnasium under the rather Kanto-Hegelian idea . . .” (IJ82) originally read: “. . . under the classic idea (via Pfau and Wasser’s 1936 Spiele und Knaben) . . .” (MS 35). After the sentence ending “this flat and short-sighted idea of personal happiness” (IJ 83) the MS added: “Schtitt is obsessed with, and never tires of repeating, the fact that in the final year of unsubsidized time, more Americans watched something called Wheel of Fortune than all four network newscasts combined” (MS 36).

38-40 = IJ 85-87. The flat sentence “The trees look skeletal” (IJ 86) was originally flashier: “Bare trees cast witch-fingers at the sky” (MS 39). Wallace may have tendency to showboat at times (which I frankly enjoy) but he knows when to pull back when the context demands.

40-[42]: cut. This section begins: “Hal Incandenza got introduced to drug use for comparatively innocent reasons; he’d wanted to be able to sleep through a recurring bad dream,” and continues with a brief history of his drug abuse: “eating mushrooms and tabs with Michael Pemulis and Rutherford Poat and Ortho Slice and all other most sinister players in ETA’s chemical crowd, plus of course the liquor stores all through Brighton dispensed wares to anyone whose head cleared the register’s counter, and so Hal . . . was an interior wreck by 17 . . .” But Wallace X’ed this out and wrote in the margin “BAG—NO 41.” He revised this on MS 40K-N.

40A-E = IJ 95-105 (but without the Marathe/Steeply interlude on 97). A heavily revised section printed in 8-point type. (Dave told me he did this to disguise the book’s length from his editor, who of course wasn’t fooled for an instant.)

40E-K = IJ 109-121. Ditto.

40K-N: cut. After “There is a twinge in a tooth on his mouth’s left side” (IJ 121), the MS continues without a section break with a longer account of Hal’s drug history and the “ghastly nightmares” that “are an occupational hazard of serious junior tennis.”

42-47 = IJ 128-35. Originally narrated by an unidentified “me” rather than the book’s “yrstruly.”

47-48 = IJ 93.

48-52 = IJ 151-56. Many small revisions but substantially the same. In the MS, one of Pemulis’s T-shirts (cf.IJ 156) reads “Remember Bobby Sands,” the Irish nationalist who died in prison in 1981 after a hunger strike protesting the British decision to criminalize those previously held as political prisoners.

52A = IJ 87.

52-53 = IJ 63-65. Avril Mondragon (as on IJ 64) was originally called Constance Bilodeau. Though brief, the book version of this chapter is twice as long (i.e., detailed) as the MS.

53-54 = IJ 137-38. MS says the Ennet House was founded in the Year of the Tucks Medicated Pad, revised to Year of the Whopper for the book. Similarly the MS has the founder dying at age 56 instead of 68. (The Ennet House was based on Granada House in Brighton, where Wallace lived the first half of 1990.)

54A = IJ 127-28. This description of Lyle was a staple of Dave’s readings in the 1990s.

55A-56 = IJ 140-42. The book’s heading is longer than the MS’s, which stops at “PASSED FROM THIS LIFE.”

56-56A = IJ 142-44. MS has Helen Slansker instead of Helen Steeply as the author of this heartless Moment article. The closing sentence’s power saw (IJ 144) was originally a hatchet.

57-58 = IJ 169-71. From about this point on, fewer and fewer of the chapters are dated in the MS. The MS. had Aldous Huxley considering Leary’s invitation to become writer-in-residence at Millbrook in the late 1960s until I reminded Wallace that Huxley died in 1963 (the same day Kennedy was assassinated), so he changed it to Alan Watts (IJ 170; whether it’s true Watts received such an offer, I don’t know). Instead of the Riverside Hamlet (IJ 171), Hal originally held “the American Heritage Fourth” (MS 58).

58-61 = IJ 172-76. The film Hal narrates was originally called Too Much Fun, the title of one of his father’s unfinished films (IJ 993), and was dated differently in the headnote. Instead of (IJ 175), Wallace originally had One-Eyed Jacks, then crossed that out and inserted “Powell’s Peeping Tom,” a 1959 British film summarized by Halliwell’s thus: “A film studio focus puller is obsessed by the lust to murder beautiful women and photograph the fear on their faces.”

61-65 = IJ 176-81.

65-76 = IJ 157-69. Originally dated April 1961.

77-81 = IJ 55-60. Moved much closer to the front of the published book, this was another favored piece at Wallace’s readings in the 1990s.

81A-K = IJ 491-503. Young Jim’s account of helping his father move a mattress was moved back to the middle of the published book. In the upper right-hand corner of p. 81A is a handwritten note: “Sold to Harper’s 5/93.” It was published in their 9/93 issue with the title “The Awakening of My Interest in Annular Systems.”

81L = IJ 135-37. The phone call from Orin was greatly expanded for the published version.

81-90 = IJ 181-93. The account of Madame Psychosis’s radio program was likewise greatly expanded for the book version, though some sections were cut from the MS., e.g. an ethnic survey of reactions to the radio show’s obscure background music: “Madame Psychosis’s cued musics [sic] make Arab MIT students ache for minarets and muezzins’ azans, their foreheads itch for the feel of non-representational carpet. German graduate students get lumped-throated envisioning Tubingen roses blooming time-lapse in perfectly ordered rows. The Canadian kids don’t think of anything at all. The Swiss kids cop images of prolix clocks,” and so on. “Mario’s convinced Schtitt would like this music if you could get him to take the Wagner off and try something else for once, in his office” (MS 88).

90-109 = IJ 219-40 (excluding the interludes on 223 and 227). Joelle van Dyne is called Joelle ver Nooy in the MS. and is described as “the daughter of a pipe-fitter from Arkansas.” (Wallace has a note in the margin urging Reconsider; he changed it to “a low-pH chemist” for the published novel; the name ver Nooy has some connection with Wallace’s alma mater Amherst; “van Dyne” is probably meant to evoke “anodyne,” which Dave once used in the sense of “painkiller” in a letter to me). Wallace cut from the MS Molly Notkin’s winning strategy against her examiners for passing her Orals (she “took a seat not right opposite the three of them but withthem . . . they’ll attack only from a distance”). The reference to Yugoslav director Dusân Makavej at the bottom of IJ 233 was originally to “late Maillaux” (MS 103), whoever that is. In the MS Joelle states, “I am five feet nine inches tall. I weigh 121 pounds, or 55 kilos,” which Wallace changed to “I am 1.7 meters tall and weigh 48 kilograms” (IJ 234).

109-14 = IJ 211-19. Wallace cut another paragraph on Hal’s drug history (he “has in two years gone from Mormonesque [sic] abstinence to a willingness to absorb just about anything at all. . . . Pemulis refers to him with good humor as a garbage-head”). Charles Tavis’s surname is Davis in some places in the MS.

114-16 = IJ 240-42. The first-person “To I think it must be the southwest” (bottom of IJ 241) isn’t in the MS, which suggests Hal is narrating this little geography lesson.

116A-N = IJ 242-58. An immaculate typescript, and very close to the published version.

116O, 117-18 = IJ 193-98.

119-29 = IJ 258-70. John Wayne is said to be from Kirkland, New Brunswick; changed to Montcerf, Quebec, for the novel (IJ 259); Avril was likewise originally from New Brunswick rather than Quebec.

130-37 = IJ 270-81. Geoffrey Day is 49 in the MS, 46 in the book (IJ 270). Numerous similar small changes, e.g., Day originally drove his Saab through the window of a sporting goods store in Somerville, revised to Brookline, and finally to Malden (IJ 272). The MS’s Morse Code was changed to “Morris Code” for the book (IJ 275), one of numerous instances throughout the finished novel where the narrative employs phonetic spellings and malapropisms even outside of quoted dialogue, what’s been called a “free indirect discourse” based on the education level of a chapter’s protagonist (in this instance, Gately) while maintaining a third-person authorial presence. Before settling on The Fiends in Human Shape (IJ276), Wallace noted a number of band names: The Husks, Snout, The Green Men, The Exquisite Corpses (top of MS 134). On the top of MS 136 there’s a note “Joelle knows Day from BU.”

137-38 = IJ 281-83. The MS doesn’t specify what everyone is reading, as does IJ 281-82. Tavis imitates Richard Nixon in the MS instead of the novel’s Pierre Trudeau (IJ 282).

138-42 = IJ 299-306. MS calls him “Queer Tony” rather than “Poor Tony.” The Year of the Whopper was originally called the Year of the Twinkie (MS 139).

142A-E = IJ 306-12. The classes taught by prorectors in the MS were different: “Rik Dunkel’s ‘History of Styrofoam,’ Mary Esther Thode’s ‘Contemporary Psychoethical Quandaries,’ Donni Stott’s ‘Geography of the Rhineland’ [crossed out and replaced by Thierry Ontan’s ‘Separatism and Return’], Corbett Thorp’s ‘Deviant Logics,’ Aubrey DeLint’s ‘Sport and Society,’ Tex Watson’s ‘The Atom in the Mirror: A Lay Look at Annular Fusion,’ Tony Nwangi’s ‘Minority Fashions,’ etc.” (cf. IJ 306).After the reference to smallpox variola (IJ 310), Wallace cut from the MS a long passage that begins: “Hal’s maybe favorite anecdote wasn’t even in the assigned part of Thevet’s Cosmographie—it was the part where the vain and imperious French General Sieur de Roberval, setting sail from France on the second big Canadian expedition in 1541, ‘. . . took with him his niece, Marguerite, a beautiful and high spirited girl.’” The story continues with a young nobleman, in love with Marguerite, joining the expedition; the disapproving father abandons his niece and her old nurse on Canada’s Isle of Demons, to which the nobleman swims. The three eke out a living, Marguerite bears a child, who dies, then Marguerite walks out into the ocean to drown herself. The nobleman takes up with the old nurse, and they are finally rescued and return to Europe, “where the couple earned a handsome living travelling around Portugal on a kind of lecture-tour describing the incestuous heartlessness of Roberval and the general French character” (MS 142C-D). I would have guessed Wallace found this anecdote in his friend William T. Vollmann’s Fathers and Crows (1992), but a little digging uncovered the source to be not Thevet’s impossibly rare book but Francis Parkman’s Pioneers of France in the New World (1865), also a major resource for Vollmann. Parkman also supplied a few French-Canadian names in IJ: Poutrincourt, and Pointgravè and DesMonts (spelled Pontgravé and De Monts in Parkman), the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern of IJ.

142-46 = IJ 312-17. In the margin next to the first sentence is the note (re: Mario): “Mutated because product of incest? Tavis w/ khaki skin and dinosaur eyes?”—an odd question since Tavis and Avril are not biologically related. (See IJ 314 for Mario’s khaki skin and dinosaur eyes.) The MS has the Incandenzas living in Beacon Hill, not the Back Bay.

146-67 = IJ 321-42 (+ 1023-25, nn. 123-24). The only heavily footnoted chapter in the MS (with notes and diagrams at the bottom of pages rather than as endnotes) In the MS equivalent to the end of the long paragraph on IJ 330, Pemulis begins adding some long footnotes on hard-core game theory, a “Pure-Strategy Table,” other diagrams (one pair is labeled MADAME and PSYCHOSIS), and some very complicated math equations I’m not qualified to describe. (At the end Pemulis says, “If you got all the way through this my hat’s off”—to which Wallace added in the margin “Particularly to Gerry Howard,” the editor of his first two books, and who Wallace originally thought would publish this one as well.) In my report I suggested that Dave condense this tour-de-forceful chapter a bit, and perhaps for that reason Pemulis’s footnotes got the ax. (This chapter is followed immediately by the brief description of the Statue of Liberty [MS 167], which was moved to the end of the following chapter for the book [IJ 367]. There are a half-dozen versions of the Liberty sentence on various pages in this portion of the MS.)

168-83 = IJ 343-67. Another chapter with some footnotes, including one Wallace discarded: after the phrase “warm day after cold day” (IJ 350 bottom), there’s this note: “See for instance photos of people released after long periods in concentration camps; do they look ‘happy’?” (MS 172). Wallace wisely decided not to equate brutal internment with reckless addiction, despite the physical similarity between prisoners and addicts. Ferocious Francis was originally called Bobby McCarren, then Bobby Hurst. At one point on p. 176 of the MS—equivalent to the paragraph ending “abject AA mirth” on IJ 356—Wallace originally planned to insert pp. 176A-W, but then changed his mind: see next entry.

176A-W = IJ 1007-21. I asked Dave if he moved some sections back to the endnotes as a compromise against eliminating them entirely (since they would take up less space in the smaller point size), but he said no. My copy of the MS is missing pp. 176A-P.

183A-B: cut. A brief episode labeled “CATATONIC INSERT,” beginning: “A couple of the Enfield Marine Hospital security guys Mario’d met when they made ‘Dial C For Concupiscence’ [see IJ 992] sometimes drop by Tequila Mockingbird on Blind Bouncer night when Hal and like maybe Troeltsch are in there.” These “young dim big good guys” describe “some of the specimens they keep secure” in Unit #5 (see IJ 196-97).

184-88 = IJ 367-75.

188-90 = IJ 376-79. MS p. 190 is labeled 190-95 to synch it with the succeeding pages.

195A-200 = IJ 380-86. Aubrey DeLint’s first name was originally Dana.

200A-B = IJ 379 and 375-76 (“There’d been that first brutal winter night . . .”). The MS is longer because Lyle tells a drunken Incandenza, depressed by harsh criticism (IJ 375), “the fable of the Smart Old Bee and the Foolish Young Bee,” about a hyperactive young bee that preferred flying around and enjoying the sights to working at the hive. “The Smart Old Bee watched the Foolish Young Bee ignore his advice about apollonian motion vs. dyonesian [sic] motion and fly around terrorizing al fresco diners . . . and decided, in true Blakean fashion, that (in an almost ultrasonically high and tiny bee-voice) ‘You never know what is enough unless you know what is more than enough.’” He asks the Young Bee to spend a day within a flower while “it opened its petals to drink the light and feed the bees,” an experience wasted on the Young Bee. “All he had experienced inside that flower, he complained, was a gradual enlargement of the world outside until he forgot the flower altogether because he was now in the world, and so flew away from the flower that had gradually let him go.”

200-8 = IJ 386-95. This chapter on Lyle begins more simply in the MS: “No guru’s immune to fruitless yearnings, sometimes,” and was both cut and expanded for the book version. The return to Mario’s film (IJ 391-94) comes at a different point in the MS. (There should be a section break at the top of IJ 391; Wallace made verbal corrections for the paperback edition but neglected numerous bad layout problems like this; see, e.g., 692, 701, 736.)

208-18 = IJ 395-410. In the novel, this chapter opens with a passage that originally followed the end—“Like most young people genetically hard-wired for a secret drug problem . . .” (IJ 395)—which in the MS is accompanied by a handwritten note that seems to read “addiction fairly gallops in both the Incandenza and Tavis family trees” (MS 218).

218-26 = IJ 410-18.

226-28 = IJ 430-34.

228A-B = IJ 434-36. At the top of MS 228A is a note “Pt. II open?” suggesting (as does the title page) that the novel would be divided into parts. Stavros’s ambition to open a women’s shoe store isn’t discussed in the MS.

228-33 = IJ 436-42.

233A-B: cut. This brief section set in August of the Year of the Trial-Size Dove Bar begins: “You, Don Gately, 19 [circled with “20?” above it], currently and it turns out very temporarily of Lowell, MA, Boston’s extreme North Shore, meperidine addict and journeyman burglar, using a hole in a high hedge and some 10X binoculars not your own to scout out potential burglarees . . . become an unsuspected witness to the first ever confirmed U.S.A. sighting of a giant feral infant, a giant feral infant [redundancy sic], south of the Great Concavity within which nothing is ever confirmed.” Gately watches the wholesome members of the Young Christians Community House prepare a picnic for the hard-luck family living next door when he hears “Something unspeakable.” A monster-movie description of the infant on MS 233E was deleted from what is now IJ 447.

233B-F = IJ 442-49. Substantially rewritten, cutting some paragraphs (see above), expanding others.

233F = IJ 449-50.

233G-O = IJ 450-61. The clause “the thing it’s not entirely impossible he may have fathered asleep” (IJ 451) doesn’t appear in the MS, apparently added to give another hint about Tavis’s relationship to Mario.

233P-R: cut. This “Running and Salvation Insert” describes the E.T.A.s’ different conditioning runs and one Friday when Hal, Stice, Troeltsch, and Mario watch a Salvation Army rally.

233-51 = IJ 461-89 (excluding 470-75). The Purity Supreme Market (IJ 461) was originally called simply the Star Market. No mention yet in the MS of Gately’s former girlfriend Pamela Hoffman-Jeep (IJ 465; Wallace took that name from a regular RCF reviewer named Lynda Hoffman-Jeep: she had a review in the same “Younger Writers Issue” in which he was featured, and he obviously took a shine to her unusual name). In the MS Pat Montesian drives not like “a maniac” (IJ 465) but “like Annie Hall.” In the pre-metric MS, Gately is described as 6'2" and 280 pounds. The MS has only a paragraph break between the section ending on IJ 469 and its resumption at IJ 475.

The “new girl Amy J.” (IJ 475) was originally an “old male panhandler Danny something” (MS 240). The transition between Gately and the Antitoi brothers by way of a piece of debris (MS 244; IJ 480) is very Gaddisian, as in his novelJ R (1975), which Wallace taught at ISU during this time. Bertraund was originally called Stefe Antitoi, and the store Antitoi Notions. The French phrase “IL NE FAUT PLUS QU’ON PURSUIVE LE BONHEUR” (IJ 483) was originally given in English as “HAPPINESS NEED NO LONGER BE PURSUED” (MS 247).

251A-C = IJ 550-53. At the top of 251A Wallace wrote “Misplaced ch[apter]. This ch. should be moved 70 pp. ahead.” (See MS 314B-D below.) The MS version has Jim Struck interfacing with Dr. Rusk instead Ortho Stice, and stopping after the crack about linoleum. Rusk’s door originally had “two Gothic-script quotes from Andrea Dworkin” in addition to the sampler. Struck/Stice originally proposed naming his anger Bernard, then Cletis, rather than Horace (IJ 551). What sounds to Pemulis like Tavis exhorting himself “Total worry total worry” (IJ 552) in the MS was a military chant: “One, Two, Three, Four/Every Night I Pray For War . . . Five, Six, Seven, Eight/Kill, Rape, Mutilate” (MS 251B). Hal’s mother is here called Elaine, though usually it’s Constance in the MS.

252-58: cut. Labeled “Catatonic Lady Eavesdrops on Ennet House Conversations” and dated 11 November, Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment, this concerns a catatonic “Thing” from the Shed over at Enfield Marine’s Unit #3 (i.e., #5: see IJ 196) who is wheeled over to the Ennet House “to soak up an atmosphere of substance-recovery.” It’s mostly dialogue, similar to the material on IJ 563-65, with some funny-bad puns (“Kid, sex is like a cemetery. Get a lot while you’re young” [MS 256]).

259-71 = IJ 283-99. This chapter is unique in having a centered title and subtitle:

An Inspirational Story

(To Give Up Is To Go On –Moral

In Defense of Apostasy)


Here the Moms is called Minovia; in addition to Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language” (IJ 288) her grammar group reads “Edwin Newman and William Safire’s treatises” (MS 263). The MS gushingly introduces Joelle as “a freshman baton-twirler with huge happy hair whose ringlets were discs and whose legs went up to her armpits, who twirled and strutted with immaculate posture and a diffident expression, whose legs were the color of whole milk against the bruised color of the sunrise sky . . . who was quite simply drop-dead pretty” (MS 264). The novel’s gentle note that Orin “had already drawn idle little sideways 8’s on the postcoital flanks of a dozen B.U. coeds” (IJ 289) replaces the MS’s coarser “had already gone about penetrating a huge cross-section of BU’s incoming freshwomen.” The unnamed “cleft-chinned and solidly B.U.-connected Dad” at the top of IJ 291 is revealed to be Dr. Geoffrey Day in the MS. Joelle is the daughter of Joe Lon ver Nooy of Meyer, Arkansas, and though called the “prettiest girl of all time” in the MS is not yet acronymed P.G.O.A.T.

271A-D = IJ 503-7. Nearly identical to the published version. This is the selection from the MS, of the three or four Dave offered, I chose to run in the RCF “Younger Writers Issue” in spring 1993.

272-91 = IJ 508-27. Trevor Axford’s role in this much-revised chapter was originally assigned to a “Danny Fuller,” crossed out and replaced by Jim Struck. Following the reference to Brewster’s Angle (IJ 511), the MS has this excised, bracketed note: “[Caroline Sutton, ‘How Do They That,’ angle at which light hits thing so they produce horizontal waves and thus glare].” (See Sutton’s How Do They Do That: Wonders of the Far and Recent Past Explained [1984].) Another e&b’d note reads: “[Use McLean bldgs., part of McLean’s tunnel map, for schema of ETA]” (MS 275). The “diddle-check” goes on a little longer in the MS as the moppets give more explicit examples of inappropriate contact, e.g. Tina Echt’s query, “‘You mean like when Uncle Rollo back home in Pawtucket likes me to climb on his lap and bounce up and down and play Horsie-With-Progressively-Lumpier-Saddle, he calls it?’” Tiny Gretchen Holt and Jolene Criess ask similar questions (MS 277). A section detailing the more brutal disciplinary methods at other tennis academies in North and South America was cut following the reference to ETA’s puker-drills (IJ 515). The footnote to “Coatlicue Complex” reads “No clue” (IJ 516, 1036 n.216), but the MS helpfully supplies another e&b’d note: “[Carnes, ‘Out of the Shadows’ p. 69—Aztec mother-god who symbolizes power of life and death that each mother holds over her infant]” (MS 279). (See Patrick Carnes, Out of the Shadows: Understanding Sexual Addiction [1990].) As kids Hal and Orin called Tavis Gretel after a cow they’d seen at the Catskill Game Farm with a hole in its stomachs “with like plastic caps over them, and tubes, so you could look in and see internal digestive processes going on right inside the cow” (MS 280; cf. IJ 1068). There are a few notes in margins where Wallace considers whether he should make Tavis Avril’s biological brother or not; it appears he began with biological and only later changed it to adoptive. Tavis’s interview with Tina Echt is much longer in the MS version. At the equivalent to the bottom of IJ 521 the MS reads: “This is embarrassing, but her [Avril’s] diminutive for Harold James Incandenza is Patoot, which don’t ask” (MS 286).

292-96 = IJ 531-38. The MS omits the opening sentence. In the margins Wallace wrote little notes to himself about certain passages, e.g., “G[ately] needs to be more sensitive,” Joelle “needs to be more Southern,” like a director rehearsing actors. The MS omits the last two sentences of the published version. Typed a few lines later is an idea: “Joelle as child model, mother and twin brothers just as gorgeous—posed as attractive family in picture frames in picture you buy and discard to put your own imperfect picture in frame.” But Wallace circled this and dismissed it as “possibly too cute.”

297-307 = IJ n.324, 1066-72. At the top of the first page of this episode Wallace wrote “Fix or cut,” compromising by fixing it up (expanding it to twice its original length) but moving it to the endnotes. Instead of the Russian T-shirt (IJ 1069) Pemulis wears one that’s “pork-colored, with a swine in a police cap counting currency and the words Keep Our Cops Kosher.” In addition to praising the axiom and the lemma (IJ1071) Pemulis goes on at length in the MS on the principle of induction, Descartes and St. Augustine, hypothetical math problems, etc., but Wallace wrote “Too abstract” at the bottom of one page and abridged most of it. (Pemulis doesn’t name the set of mathematicians at the top of IJ 1072, though.)

308-14 = IJ 538-47. In the MS Lenz keeps his stash in “Blakiston’s gargantuan Gould Medical Dictionary” instead of in James’s Principles of Psychology, but at the end of the episode Wallace has this handwritten footnote to the line “a waste of time and tension and yet still not be able to stop worrying about it” (IJ 547): “cf. William James—‘Recent works on the psychology of character have had much to say on this point. Some persons are born with an inner constitution which is harmonious and well-balanced from the outset. Their impulses are consistent with one another, their will follows without trouble the guidance of their intellect, and their lives are little haunted by regret. Others are oppositely constituted; and are so in degrees which may vary from something so slight as to result in a merely odd or whimsical inconsistency, to a discordancy of which the consequences may be inconvenient in the extreme.’ Varieties [of Religious Experience] p. 141.”

314A = IJ 548.

314B-D = IJ 550-53. A duplicate of MS 251A-C; this one is clean; the earlier one has minor revisions.

315-21 = IJ 553-62 (excluding Hal’s interlude on 560). In the MS., instead of looking “like Warhol with a tan” (IJ553), Lenz resembles “Cesar Romero after a hideous mishap” (cf. IJ 276, 894). The MS’s footnote to “hydrolysis” (IJ 557 and n. 232) reveals one of Wallace’s drug sources: Anthony B. Radcliffe’s Pharmer’s Almanac: A Layman’s Guide to the Pharmacology of Psychoactive Drugs (1985; rpt. Ballantine, 1991). The stories Lenz and Green exchange (IJ 557-59) are weirder and more exotic in the MS., regarding, e.g., Elvis’s twin brother in utero Enos, mirror-cults, and a “pocket of persons in Rhode Island and Delaware who believe the Biblical Antichrist appeared and walked among the earth for a seven-year period between 1972 and 1979 in the guys [sic] of televised Dating Game game show host Jim Lang.” (Handwritten at the beginning of this episode is the note “All typos intentional.”)

321A = IJ 227. In the MS it’s “Helen L. Slansker, 33,” working out of Tucson rather than “Erythema AZ” (IJ 227); there’s no such town, of course, but every Gaddis fan will recognize erythema as the skin disease from which Wyatt Gwyon suffers in The Recognitions (p. 43).

322-27 = IJ 563-65. The MS version is much longer because Wallace took some snippets and dispersed them elsewhere in the finished novel.

327-29 = IJ n.90, 1000-02. Day is not quite as verbose in the MS version (which, e.g., lacks his final paragraphs on the un-American, illogical nature of AA [IJ 1002]).

330-42 = IJ 575-89. The MS contains about 400 words at the beginning that Wallace cut (mostly Lenz boasting that many of the Ennet House females “want him to X them from all possible angles of attack in the worse possible way” and telling Green about the screenplay he’s writing) or moved around (e.g., to n.239). At the equivalent to the end of the paragraph at the top of IJ 578, Wallace cut this amusing bit: “A Euro-punk now crosses the frame, abundantly leathered, with prolix hair, pale, spikes radiating from skull and wrists, jackboots, pale and with a long jaw, taking forever to cross the alley’s mouth. Lenz tells Green there’ve historically been Euro-punks for decades: he says the definition of a Euro-punk’s: two haircuts, one head” (MS 333). The MS underlines Green’s familiarity with Hawaiian music (i.e., it’s his consciousness that identifies the Don Ho album): “A slack-steel guitar. Influences on West Coast jazz circa the 1940s and 1950s. Green had read up on all things Hawaiian, in grade school, sitting silently in the library corner’s beanbag chair under a poster of Chuck Norris holding up a book and saying reading is fundamental” (MS 340).

343-44 = IJ 589-93. This brief sequence shows more revision than any other episode in the manuscript. “Hugh” was another early name for Orin. The MS lacks the two paragraphs from “He keeps trying to imagine Madame Psychosis” through “because Mario never changes” (IJ590). To Mario, the Ennet House originally “smells like God” before Wallace changed that to “smells like an ashtray” and reworked the God reference (IJ 591). (It was about this time that Wallace, the son of atheists, got religion.) In the MS Mario hears a recording of a Madame Psychosis show, but “it’s not a live broadcast, because tonight on WYYY Miss Diagnosis is doing a Pig-Latin reading of John’s Revelation that Mario could only take five minutes of” (MS 344). After the line (added by hand) “It is increasingly hard to find valid art that is about stuff that is real in this way” (IJ 592), Wallace cut this paragraph, from a letter Mme. Psychosis once read aloud on her show:

“So but I’d always feel strange, then, when we fucked [amended to “did it”]. It was like an all-body hallucination—that, beginning at opposite ends of the world, we hurtle toward each other, each bound for the opposite point that had launched the other, and that in the best of worlds we’d pass each other in opposite flight, impossibly close, sliding past each other like two planes of glass, too smooth to touch. But that here we snag somehow. I get caught on you. Something catches, keeps us from hurtling on past each other to the place we need to get to, each other’s place. We’re caught on each other in mid-hurtle. We struggle and thrash, trying to disengage. It’s no use.” (MS 344)

344-46 = IJ 593-96. Another heavily revised interlude.

347-53 = IJ 200-11. This is the chapter I suggested to open the novel, and while Wallace obviously didn’t agree, he did move it closer to the front. He originally wrote “severe cyctic acne” before substituting the all-purpose Boston adjective “wicked” (IJ 200). After the sentence ending “techniques and public relations, etc.” (IJ 203), the MS has a 2500-word footnote (pp. 348A-D) concerning a “professional stem-artist” named Gordon W. Eagan, “a three-decade heroin addict who claimed without bravado to have raised and fed into his right arm sums equal to the yearly GNP of most small Caribbean nations.” Set in November YDAU, it details his various scamming techniques; one of his cons was fellow-Ennet resident Ken Erdedy, who now reacts “with a kind of celebrity-recognition-type fervor.” In the MS the cummings tatt is spelled correctly (cf. IJ 208).

353-66 = IJ 601-19. The MS version of the climactic fight scene is very close to the final version, footnotes included. Lenz seems to be wired on cocaine, not “Bing” (IJ 605; in fact, many of the amusing slang terms, like “eating cheese” for ratting, were added later). The Nuck’s .44 was originally a mere .22. At this point in the MS there’s a handwritten page, 360A, describing the shooter’s stance: IJ 609.

366A-E = IJ 596-601. Orin is age 26 in the MS version of this interlude, which is about half the length of the book version.

367-76 = IJ 620-26. Instead of “Hal and Mario have both been to a few” (IJ 622), the MS reads: “I’ve been to a few” (MS 370), one of many indications that Hal is in some sense the narrator of the novel. (On the other hand, see 433-43 below.) The MS has Luria P--- instead of Hugh Steeply in Tine’s office (IJ 622); the WYYY engineer has a spine-split copy of The Tao of Physics instead of Metallurgy of Annular Isotopes (IJ 624).

377-88 = IJ 627-38. The Syrian Satelliter and Moment profiler were added later to the chapter’s first paragraph. The descriptions of the students’ eating habits were greatly expanded for the novel. The Darkness gives an extended account of one of his parents’ “connubial battles” (MS 378-79). Mrs. Incandenza originally used green pens rather than blue (IJ 631; MS 381 has the note: “change all pens she chews on to green pens”; contemplate for a moment going through the entire novel looking for such instances). After Stice cites his old man’s dictum (IJ633) someone in the MS adds: “A Bedouin contortionist” (MS 382). In the MS Struck taunts the others by relating “how he was on the phone to this girl in 16s down at the Bradenton School he was going to X before 1 Jan. or die in the effort, says he was on the line to this girl and how she relates that her doubles partner had an attack of the moists for one of Struck’s intimate circle up at ETA, very casually,” then goes on to describe her with as much attention to her tennis style and equipment as her physical attributes (MS 383-84). Struck: “But so Fern says she knows the guy by sight but isn’t sure of the name. . . . She says the one with the long arms and the hands like a strangler.” “That’s half the guys at this school,” someone objects (MS 385). (Turns out Troeltsch is the lucky guy, which is greeted with incredulity all around.)

388-97 = IJ 651-62. The MS’s opening paragraph is more perfunctory the novel’s (which still economically sets the scene with short sentences). Stice’s service motion is in only the McEnroe tradition; expanded to McEnroe-Esconja for the novel. The MS description of Gately in the hospital is much more crowded; instead of asleep alone (IJ 654), he is “thrashing” in bed from pain: “Calvin Thrust is at Gately’s bedside, arms crossed, gasper unlit, watching Gately thrash and flush fever-bright. Pat Montesian, Joelle ver N., Bruce G., and Gately’s sponsor Bobby H are down the corridor in the CC reception area, listening to the vending machines hum and gurgle and want coins, waiting to go in and be there for Don Gately. The US Marshal stationed at Gately’s room’s door has received notice of one visitor at a time, he said” (MS 390-91). After the reference to “Queer” Tony, the MS pictures Randy Lenz on the north side of the Mass Pike trying to thumb a ride westward. Orin embraces not the “Swiss” hand-model but “the Italianate wife of the Italianate mayor of a Phoenix suburb” (MS 391).

397-413 = IJ 666-82. The MS has only one footnote (n.272) to the novel’s seven for this chapter, a typical ratio. Traub is called Farb in the MS. The MS notes “a concentration of adolescent-high graffiti on the wall,” e.g., “‘All Hail Alberta. O.I. ’N E.I.’ in a heart, with arrows” [Orin Incandenza + Elaine (as Avril is called a few pages earlier) Incandenza?], “Spore-factor Six—13 Million Triobonds Can’t Be Wrong,” “Gone fission,” and higher than the rest, “Happiness Need No Longer Be Pursued” (MS 401-2; cf. 233-51 above).

Thierry’s last name is Ontan in the MS. Pat Cash is “in asylums by the mid twenties” rather than simply “vanished by the twenties of age” (IJ 676). (There are many similar handwritten changes to imitate French syntax in this chapter.) Thierry’s interpolations on IJ 679 were added later. In the MS DeLint notes that “The founder’s Academy motto was ‘I CARRY MY MASK IN FRONT OF ME AT ALL TIMES’” (see 32-38 above) but that Schtitt changed it to “‘CONTRARIA SUNT COMPLEMENTA,’ which is from the man Niels Bohr, who meant substances and events are of necessity the same things, the players and the games are the opposites that are just the two sides of of [redundancy sic] the one thing they must transcend, to achieve it’” (MS 412; see IJ 81 for the final motto, but and also see IJ 713 and n. 298 for an extremely loose translation). Wallace cut some interesting comparisons that DeLint makes: “Hal to me is reminiscent of a girl named Goolagong, Australian, the 1970s, same touch and control, a sentient stick, the best pure female player in the era of late King and the young Evert, but she’d have these Incandenza-like lapses where she’d go what her coach Tony Roche called going ‘Walkabout,’ an Australian mumbojumbo term, a kind of trance where she’d kind of zone out, puncture her gestalt, seem not to care. Also this girl Mandlikova in the 80s era of Navratilova and Austin. Face like Jimmy Connors but the best little hiney in the history of tennis. Incredible strokes, natural player, but would leave herself and hover” (MS 412-13).

414-17 = IJ 682-86. Matty is 26 in the MS instead of 23. Note 278 (IJ 1052) was originally the episode’s last paragraph.

417-19 = IJ 548-49. With a few exceptions (pp. 448-60, 474-76), the MS is very clean from here to the end, with justified margins, and sequentially paginated (by hand) without alphabetical inserts.

419-22 = IJ 686-89. In the MS DeLint isn’t described in detail as he is in the novel, and Hal watches a different set of cartridges: “He watches the Alberto V05 parody [Cage; see 469 below] and ‘Pre-Nuptual [sic] Agreement Between Heaven and Hell’ and ‘Dark Logics’ and then ‘Adultery In a Narrow Bunk,’ . . . He watches ‘Death in Scarsdale’ and ‘Transparent Tigers’ and ‘Homo Duplex’ and ‘Kinds of Pain” (MS 419-20), followed by Medusa v. Odalisque and Wave Bye-Bye to the Bureaucrat.

422-24 = IJ 689-91. Not dated in the MS.

424 = IJ 692. Note how the spacing is off in the published version: there should be a 3-line section break at the top of 692.

424-30 = IJ 692-98. The MS lacks the introductory sentence. A first-person “I” appears a few times in this chapter of the MS. Ernest Feaster was originally surnamed Harris.

430-32 = IJ 698-700. Again, not dated in the MS. At the end there’s a note “section not finished”; the episode is resumed at IJ 714.

432-33 = IJ 700-01. The MS has only the Troeltsch and Schtitt/Mario interludes; the other three were added later. Again, there should be a 3-line section break at the top of IJ 701.

433-43 = IJ 701-11. In the MS, Bridget watches Blood Sister alone with Hal at first (and indulges in Haagen-Dazs instead of yogurt). Fran is “pie-faced” in the MS rather than “hanuman-faced” (IJ 703, an Indian monkey). The novel’s  “It remains to be determined . . .” (IJ 707) was originally “It’s unclear to me whether Joelle ver Nooy, whom Hal doesn’t personally know . . .” (MS 438), which complicates the question of who exactly narrates this novel. In the MS, Joelle thinks of Gately with “unabashed” rather than “fearful sentiment” (IJ 707). The MS has “jig” for the novel’s “colored” during the Mattapan man’s story (IJ 707-11; i.e., Wallace decided to filter it through the Southerner Joelle’s sensibility rather than the black Bostonian’s).

443-47 = IJ 711-14.  The MS continues beyond the point where the novel ends this sequence as Bridget offers to tell Hal the funny thing Pemulis did earlier that day (IJ 702-3). Pemulis gave her a lift in the truck, and at a stoplight noticed a blind man with cane and sunglasses. As the man crossed in front of him, Pemulis put the truck in neutral and gunned the engine, scaring the blind man half to death. “Section not finished” scribbled at bottom.

448-60 = IJ 755-69. At the top of the first page Wallace has written “Found Drama II.” In the opening paragraph Bernadette Longley and Fran Unwin were on the courts, but Wallace replaced them because this episode apparently occurs while they’re watching Blood Sister with Hal. The MS, like the novel, has a “second tenor” mysteriously turn into a “baritone” within a few sentences (IJ 756). The Gilbert Treffert poster (IJ 757) was originally Gilbert LaTouche. The 49-star U.S.A. flag (IJ761) originally had 46 stars. Both MS and novel end with one of Wallace’s prettiest paragraphs (IJ 769).

461-68 = IJ 769-74, 782-85. The Moms’ dog was originally called Roger rather than S[amuel?]. Johnson. After Hal says he doesn’t know whether he misses Orin or not (IJ 771), Mario asks: “Remember when you were really little and Himself would always call you his Little Button, like Come To Papa My Little Button, and one day in the driveway in Weston you disagreed, you made your hands like fists down at your sides and put one foot down hard and went to Himself you went I Am Not A Little Button. And Orin was there and he went That’s What All The Little Buttons Say, Kid” (MS 463). There is no break or interruption in the MS version.

469-73: cut. Six short sections; if one analogue to IJ’s “anticonfluential” structure is channel-surfing, one can think of these as mildly interesting snippets until the main program resumes. The first is entitled “JAMES INCANDENZA’S FIRST ATTEMPT EVER AT SOMETHING FILMED, ‘CAGE I,’ NEVER PUBLICLY SEEN BECAUSE IT’S DULL AND HEAVY, A 28-SECOND PARODY OF AN ALBERTO V05 COMMERCIAL, FEATURING AN OLD PRE-DIGITAL TELEVISION SET, A CLEAN WALL MIRROR, AND TWO IMAGES IN BOTH, ONLY ONE OF WHICH IS ATTRACTIVE.” A brief script follows, with the model saying things like: “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful. Hate yourself because you’re not.

The second is “HAL INCANDENZA’S FIRST 2 WRITTEN COMMENTS ON ANYTHING EVEN REMOTELY ECONOMIC . . .,” in which young Hal praises the penny, concluding: “Pennies seem more like a synecdoche of fear and aggression—have pennies at the ready, ready to direct them outward, lest the pennies come back your way, for you to have to lug around, or keep in a jar.”

The third section lacks a title and reads in its entirety: “Assuming you’re not bedridden or institutionalized for detoxification or something, ie. assuming you’re just like an average US person, can you remember the last time a whole day went by without your buying something? No matter how small. Something. Is this a bit weird?” (MS 470).

The fourth section has like a 150-word title about what Geoffrey Day thinks about after waking up in the middle of the night, feeling like “A SMALL PALE SOUL PREY TO THE WHIMS OF A GREAT ROARING NATURE, LIKE PASCAL UNDER REMOTE SKIES, AT NIGHT:” “We are romantics, Americans, today,” it begins. “Romantics believe that nature is the spirit’s repository and projector”; unlike “the farmers of yore,” who treated nature with respect, modern-day Americans like Lenz say “the great thing about nature is it’s one big toilet.” (It’s a subtle passage that resists abridgement.)


The final section is “HAL INCANDENZA’S ONE EXTANT WRITTEN THING ON DUCKS, SUBMITTED 21 NOVEMBER YR./WHOPPER FOR THEN-PRORECTOR JANICE SNEE’S OPTIONAL AND PRETTY EASY ‘NEW ENGLAND ECOLOGY WORKSHOP,’ A KIDS’ CLASS, HAL BEING ONLY TEN AT THE TIME, WHICH ACCOUNTS FOR A CERTAIN STRAINED, TIP-TOE-LIKE QUALITY TO THE PROSE OF HIS MEDITATION ON THE DUCKS IN BOSTON’S PUBLIC GARDEN.” Hal notes that “ducks’ trade secret” for flourishing in their cold, wet environment is their “oily exudationary layer,” which if compromised by “a mom using a spray bottle with a weak boric acid solution to scrub the duck clean and oil-free before a son picks it up” will cause the duck to “fall prey to the full fury of the wet, cold environment in which it makes its natural home.”

474-75 = IJ 785-87. In the MS Hal’s conversation is described as “upscale Boston speech.”

475-86 = IJ 795-808. MS is almost identical to the book version.

487-520 = IJ 809-45, 846-51. The MS has fewer paragraph breaks in this long sequence. MS reads “your display of reluctant virtue” instead of “reluctant se offendendo” and its accompanying note (IJ 814). Wallace expanded the paragraph now spanning IJ817-18 to include the details about Pat’s (and Joelle’s) red hair and physical appearance. Mrs. Lopate (IJ 818) is called “the Thing, the catatonic lady from the Shed” in the MS. There’s no section break in the MS as on IJ 827. Cheers!’s Norm is spelled correctly in the MS. The poseur “Schwulst” (IJ 835) replaces the MS’s “Bochco.” (Steven Bochco is a writer/producer best known for his work on Hill Street Blues; Schwulstis a German word for “swelling, tumor,” or figuratively, “bombast, turgidity.”) Wallace shortened the MS’s “the car-switching hour” to “the switching hour” (IJ837), probably to bring out the pun on “witching hour” (and maybe even to allude to Hamlet’s “the very witching time of night” [3.2.413].) No section break in MS between IJ 845-46.

520-23 = IJ 851-54. The MS lacks a date and the details about the Boards and A.P.s being three weeks away (IJ 851). In the MS “the opponents were to be the Ukrainian Jr. Davis and Jr. Wightman Cup teams,” and through the rest of the MS it’s the Ukrainians rather than the Quebecois who are expected.

523-32 = IJ 854-64. In the MS, Orin’s “only aesthetic interest in Joelle had been in a face he could make into anything anybody watching might wish” rather than “first aesthetic and then anti-aesthetic” (IJ 855). At the point where the novel states, “What’s unendurable is what his own head could make of it all” (IJ 860), the MS has Gately remember Ferocious Francis describing at length what his head made of his problems (MS 528-29). Joelle’s family bull was originally called “Big Nig”; her Uncle Lum was originally Uncle Punk. At the point where the novel’s episode ends, the MS continues with Gately’s “memory of the summer at 13 he worked in Beverly for old Gus Carty the lobsterman. . . . The thing Gately remembers best, besides the odor, is the way all the trapped lobsters’ eye-stalks were always stuck out protruding between the reticular bars of the trap, every single eye-stalk of every single one, so the eyes always looked out at open space. The advantage of eyes that projected way forward: the eyes never had themselves behind bars. A lobster’s ommatophoric Denial” (MS 532, a variant on ommatophorous, “bearing an eye, as an eye-stalk” [OED]; cf. IJ891).

532-42 = IJ 864-76. In both MS and book the digital display reads “11-18-EST0456” (IJ 865), even though this scene is presumably a continuation of IJ 851-54, dated 11-20. “The window was unobserved above The Darkness’s breath-line” (IJ 865) originally read “above the Wraith’s breath-line.” And in fact, there are several places in this episode where “The Darkness” originally read “the Wraith.” Hal even calls him “Wraithster” at one point (MS 539). (Q.v. IJ 943, where Stice “thinks he’s been somehow selected or chosen to get haunted or possessed by some kind of benefactor or guardian ghost.”) In addition to imagining his father’s ghost and black spiders (IJ 870), Himself “claimed to be tormented by an apparition of Ethel Merman that wouldn’t shut up and let him sleep” (MS 538; Wallace probably remembered he already used Merman earlier w/r/t the DMZ’d soldier [IJ 214]). After Stice shrieks “Jesus God put it back!” the MS continues: “The little second face’s blue eyes protruded like ommataophorous [sicthat word again!] eyes” instead of “like cartoon eyes” (IJ 871).

543-53 = IJ 883-96. Wallace added to the MS the foreshadowing to “Fackelmann’s eliminated map after the insane scam on Sorkin” (IJ 886). Gately’s girlfriend’s name is abbreviated in the MS Pamela H.-J.

553-61 = IJ 896-902, 906-11. The MS begins with reference to “Stice’s detachment,” not “defenestration” (which would be correct only if you decide “fenestration” can mean getting stuck to a window, which it usually doesn’t). In the MS Hal experiences not a panic attack but “an attack of jeda-vu” (another interesting word choice). The oft-mentioned film cartridges are described as “the size of old 45-rpm records but had the glassy shine and diffractory reflective qualities of the first-generation compact disks Disney Leith had brought in to class” (MS 554). All of the material from “Her smile in the wedding photo is homodontic” to “the Moms and C.T. have never represented themselves as anything other than unrelated but extremely close” (IJ 901) isn’t in the MS. There is no section break in the MS.

            Wallace added the first paragraph after the section break on 906 to the resumption of this episode. In the MS, the Moms had Himself interred in her family cemetery in Ste. Thérèse des Monts, Quebec, rather than in L’Islet Province (IJ 907); similarly, Hal flew to “Ste. Thérèse des Monts, a small town built around spud-storage facilities fewer then twenty clicks south of the Baie des Chaleurs” rather than St. Adalbert (IJ 910). Kieran McKenna was first described as having a “little retroussé nose” before it got downgraded to a “little porcine snout” (IJ 909). “Peterson’s The Cage” (IJ 911) isn’t in the MS (which suggests Wallace learned of this “1947 classic” [IJ 986, n.b] after he already gave the title to three Incandenza films). The MS identifies the quotation “For while clinamen and tessera . . .” (IJ911) as coming from Harold Bloom’s The Anxiety of Influence, pp. 122-29 (which Wallace coyly acknowledges in n.366).

561-85 = IJ 902-6, 911-38 (excepting the interlude on 916). A long, uninterrupted sequence in the MS, very close to the book version. Gately’s “cognomen” (IJ 902) was originally a “moniker.” In the MS, the wienie recites Howl more plausibly in Pig Latin instead of Chaucerian English (IJ 906). In the MS, Otis P. Lord for a while is in the bed next to Gately’s, there to get the Hitachi monitor over his head removed, but Wallace later deleted all these references except for the bed-frame assembly-work on IJ 918-22. The Dworkinite protest group was originally called Womyn’s Sexploitation-Preventionand-Protest Phalanx: WEPPP rather than FOPPP (IJ 929). The crucial paragraph on IJ934 beginning “His fever is way worse” is only partly present in the MS (and the brief interlude not at all), which then continues “And so but the next morning found Gately and Fackelmann still there in the corner. . . .”

585-98 = IJ 941-58. Again Hal refers occasionally to The Darkness as the Wraith or Wraithster in the MS. Originally there was no reference to the “print of Lang directing Metropolis” (IJ951). The “another attack” mentioned at the bottom of IJ 951 reads “another attack of jamais-vu,” which is maybe what he meant earlier by “jeda-vu.” (Jamais is French for “never.”) The MS lacks the reference toConsummation of the Levirates (IJ 952; Levirates follow the Jewish practice where the brother of a deceased man marries his widow; Hal’s illustrated rug presumably depicts an orgy of such weddings. The biblical Onan refused to consummate his Levirate duty and had his map eliminated by his god as a result, but lives on in the various O.N.A.N. puns in IJ). Wallace added the three paragraphs on IJ 954-55 from “Then it occurred to me” through “to cripple myself to avoid (or forgo).”

598-99: cut. Two pages of brief AA testimonials, e.g.:

            “If you’re having trouble with spirituality, welcome to the club.” –Charlie M., Brookline Young People’s Group, Monday, 11/16/YDAU

            “I came in to save my ass and found my soul was attached.” –Cheryl U., BYP, Monday, 11/16/YDAU

            “They say it’s good for the soul, but I don’t feel nothing inside you could call a soul.” –Nell G., The Allston Group, Friday, 11/13/YDAU

599-601 = IJ 958-60.

601-2: cut. Orin leaves distracted phone messages on Hal’s answering machine. He notes how moths and insects are attracted at night by his lighted window, trying to get in, then wonders if “this is what we are to God, little night-things whapping at a lit window, trying to get in” (MS 602).

602-9 = IJ 972-81. The main narrative of the MS concludes just as the novel does; Wallace knew early on how he wanted it to end. But after the final sentence’s “and the tide was way out,” there are these enigmatic lines:

18 – Hal and Helen, Hal and Exhibition, Pemulis and DMZ

19 – Gately and Joelle. ‘They sewed his eyes open and Superglued the back of his head to the wall and propped the TP viewer in front of him and put something in the viewer. The chinks had propped up mirrors all around him so he couldn’t look away’

Then there’s a handwritten note “SECTION UNFINISHED,” followed by “Resume sec. after filmography.” No clue.

610-16 = IJ 985-93. The MS version of Incandenza’s film bibliography, added as an appendix, is close to the novel’s, with a few exceptions: in the MS, the authors of “The Laughing Pathologists” (IJ 985, n.24a) were limited to Comstock and Posner, and they treated Michael Snow (instead of E. and K. Snow) as well as John Waters. Following Union of Theoretical Grammarians in Cambridge, the MS adds:

Union of Publicly Hidden in Lynn. B.S. Meniscus Films, Ltd. Documentary cast w/ narrator P.A. Heaven; 78 mm.; 60 minutes; color; sound. Filmed proceedings in a Boston, MA suburb of “anonymous” meeting of the Union of the Hideously and Improbably Deformed, a support group for aesthetically challenged persons struggling with issues around light and sight. MAGNETIC VIDEO, PRIVATELY RELEASED BY MENISCUS FILMS, LTD.

Cage III andNo Troy appear in different positions than in the novel.


And so but it should be obvious by now that not only did Wallace make very few cuts—about 40 pages, and almost none of the ones I suggested, as it happens—he wound up adding a considerable amount of new material. In 1994 and 1995 Wallace added the opening sequence (IJ 3-17, set a year later than the main narrative rather than several years in the past, as he originally had it), the mold-eating incident (10-11), several scenes featuring Orin (65-66, 565-67, 574-75, 971-72, 1038-44), Pemulis’s drug lecture (66-67), all of the Marathe/Steeply dialogues outside Tucson and most of the Wheelchair Assassins material, Mario’s first and only romantic encounter (121-26), the hilarious e-mail about the bricklayer’s accident (138-40), the explanation for why videophony didn’t work (144-51), the workout (198-200), the helpful calendar of subsidized time (223), the discussion of the “billowing shape” (648-51), the Bain/Steeply correspondence (663-65, 1047-52), all of the material on pp. 714-55, the funny scene with Marathe and Kate Gompert in a bar (775-82), several Rod Tine scenes and related interrogations, Pemulis hiding then losing the old sneaker containing the DMZ (700, 916), Joelle’s apprehension and release (934, 938-41, 958), the Assistant District Attorney’s talk with Pat Montesian (960-64), the forthcoming exhibition fête (964-71), and maybe half of the endnotes. That is, Wallace added at least 200 pages of material, plus expanded many of the previously written episodes, and yet it’s been said the publisher cut 300-400 pages, which puzzles me. (I suppose it’s possible that, after revising and expanding the original manuscript, then adding some 200 pages of new material, Wallace went on to write an additional 300 pages, all while teaching at ISU, but that seems a bit much even for a prodigy like him.) At any rate, it’s to his editor’s credit that, instead of insisting on further reductions, Pietsch decided to market the novel’s gargantuan size as part of its appeal.

            The finished novel was delivered mid-1995 to Little, Brown, which issued a first state of galleys in two volumes, offset and reduced from Wallace’s final typescript. A second state of galleys, the “Signed Advance Reader’s Edition” (whose print run has been variously estimated at 200, 500, and 1000 copies), was produced in the fall of 1995, and the handsome book appeared in January of 1996.

            As a coda, I’d like to reprint the review I wrote of the published novel for the Review of Contemporary Fiction (vol. 16, no. 1 [Spring (i.e., January) 1996]: 141-42), some of which was misquoted on the jacket of IJ, which I’ll explain below. (That Spring 1996 issue was not uncoincidentally the “Future of Fiction” issue Wallace guest-edited.) Friends aren’t supposed to review the books of friends, but we were pretty lax about that sort of thing at RCF. Dave later told me his editor liked my review enough to enlarge and post it on his office wall, and that I was the only reviewer to note that, while set in the future, the novel was a response to “the need to excel in the Reagan eighties.”




David Foster Wallace. Infinite Jest. Little, Brown, 1996. 1,079 pp. $29.95.


While reading William Gass’s The Tunnel last year at this time, I feared I was witnessing the last of a dying breed, the encyclopedic American novel that began with Gaddis’s Recognitions in 1955, hit its stride in the sixties and seventies (Giles Goat-Boy, Gravity’s Rainbow, Gaddis again with J R, The Public Burning, LETTERS), went baroque in the eighties (Darconville’s Cat, Take Five, Women and Men, You Bright and Risen Angels), then raged against the dying of the light in the nineties with Powers’s Gold-Bug Variations and Gass’s massive masterpiece. Who was left to write such novels, or to read them at a time when some scorn such books as elitist, testosterone-fueled acts of male imperialism? For those of us who regard these works as our cultural milestones, not as tombstones in patriarchy’s graveyard, David Foster Wallace demonstrates that the encyclopedic novel is still alive and kickin’ it.

            As with The Tunnel, sheer style is the first attraction of Infinite Jest. Even in his precocious first novel, The Broom of the System (1987), Wallace was unfurling long, complex sentences, by turns sonorous and satirical, that were a joy to behold. Infinite Jest displays a wider range of styles—from the subliterate monologue of a poverty-stricken abused woman to technical explications of the properties of various pharmaceuticals—but the main narrative style is both casual and complex, slangy and erudite, a kind of slacker mandarin with comically manic specificity of detail. Even if you have trouble following the multiplex narrative at the macro level Wallace offers huge entertainment value at the micro level, flaunting (but in a good way) an amazing command of late-twentieth-century English, with its proliferating technical terms, street slang, and babble of late capitalism. Only Gaddis and Pynchon have this range, and Wallace takes the language places even those two don’t go.

            At the macro level, Infinite Jest consists of numerous “anticonfluential” (Wallace’s word) episodes set a dozen years or so in the future (as was The Broom), at a time when numerical designations for years have been sold to corporate sponsors: hence we have the Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment (in which most of the novel takes place), the Year of Glad, the Year of Dairy Products from the American Heartland, and so on. The narrative focuses on two suffering individuals: Hal Incandenza, a brilliant student and gifted tennis player attending the Enfield Tennis Academy and smoking way too much pot; and Don Gately, a petty criminal and recovering narcotics addict on staff at the nearby Ennet House Drug and Alcohol Recovery House (“Redundancy sic”), and the narrative shuttles between these two locations (both in the metro Boston area) with occasional side-trips to Arizona, where Hal grew up and where other members of the Incandenza family live. (There is a subplot concerning Quebecois separatists and a lethally entertaining video cartridge.) Thematically, the narrative shuttles between addiction and recovery.

            Addiction struck William S. Burroughs at midcentury as an encompassing metaphor for many facets of American life, and at century’s end Wallace finds a similar metaphor in the recovery from addiction. While Burroughs dwelled with sadistic glee on the horrors of addiction, Wallace takes on the horrors of withdrawal; addiction in Burroughs was largely a response to the need to conform in the Eisenhower fifties, while in Wallace addiction is a response to stress, to the need to excel in the Reagan eighties (the novel’s “ethical” setting, if not its historic one). Again like Burroughs—who is named in the text and seems a pretty clear influence—Wallace uses insect imagery to heighten the repugnance of addiction and detoxification. Infinite Jest is a Naked Lunch for the nineties.

            But there’s more: tennis as a metaphysical activity; a hundred pages of endnotes, some with their own footnotes; a parody of an annotated filmography; mindbending excursions into game theory; a Workers Comp claim worthy of a Roadrunner cartoon; an essay-length explanation of why video-phones are doomed to fail; and some incredibly sad stories of damaged human beings with more problems than you’ll ever have. The novel is so brilliant you need sunglasses to read it, but it has a heart as well as a brain. Infinite Jest is both a tragicomic* epic and a profound study of the postmodern condition.




*I originally wrote “comic,” but changed it to the more accurate “tragicomic” right before sending the issue to press; unfortunately, the version sent to Little, Brown was the earlier, uncorrected proof copy (some magazines do this to give publishers time to quote from it if they wish, as LB did here), hence the “comic” in the blurb that appeared in the cloth and paperback editions.

            I now regard Infinite Jest as perhaps the most important novel published in the 1990s and am grateful I had the opportunity to follow its gestation. Dave paid me a fine if underserved compliment by inscribing my copy of the first edition “For Steve—Thank you. Your suggestions in 93/94 made this better.”



Questions? Contact Steve at mooresteven[this is where you put the 'at' spamblock thing]


Update Note: 11th May, "April" corrected to "Avril" where required. Update 20/9/08 email address update