Adam Levin’s Infinite Jest

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Published September 17, 2010

The warnings peppered throughout 33-year-old Adam Levin’s debut novel, The Instructions (McSweeney’s), share one overarching theme: Beware Gurion ben-Judah Maccabee. The star of Levin’s 900-plus page epic is a troubled youth who promotes violence—both physical and figurative—at his junior high school, and has ideas about good and evil bordering on the messianic. But Maccabee is also a scholar—a self-identified “Israelite” who just may save his people and his classmates, who are suffering through their school’s last-chance program appropriately named The Cage. Levin’s scrappy, dialogue-heavy style has already gained comparisons to Philip Roth and the late David Foster Wallace. And considering he spent nearly ten years constructing four days in the life of his main character, it’s clear that Levin, like Maccabee, is ready to break out. More info at mcsweeneys.com.