Backwards City points to The Rake, who has caught Dave Eggers out on some David Foster Wallace flip-flopping. His first review of Infinite Jest was a major pan, but now, years later, he praises him highly in a forward to the same book. Change in taste or, as has been suggested, change in status?
"Infinite Jest" also ends abruptly, leaving as many questions unanswered as does Jim's suicide. Like his alter ego's experimental films, the book seems like an exercise in what one gifted artist can produce without the hindrance of an editor. Subsequently, it's also an exercise in whether or not such a work can sustain a reader's interest for more than 1,000 pages and thus find an audience outside academia. Wallace's take on that can be found in the book's apt title. It's an endless joke on somebody.
(We will leave aside the hilarity of Mr. E—– making an oblique dig at someone for operating without the "hindrance of an editor," as much as it pains me.)
Anyway, let's take a look at that brand spankin' new forward again, as Mr. E—– (ca. 2006) returns ten years later to praise Infinite Jest to the high heavens.
David Foster Wallace has long straddled the worlds of difficult and not-as-difficult, with most readers agreeing that his essays are easier to read than his fiction, and his journalism most accessible of all. But while much of his work is challenging, his tone, in whatever form he’s exploring, is rigorously unpretentious.
Well, "rigorously unpretentious" (2006) isn't exactly the same thing as being full of "superfluous and wildly tangential flights of lexical diarrhea" (1996), now is it? But let's keep going:
The book is 1,067 pages long and there is not one lazy sentence. The book is drum-tight and relentlessly smart and, though it does not wear its heart on its sleeve, it’s deeply felt and incredibly moving.