What is it about? It's about tennis. It's also about drugs, sobriety, film history, and a gang of wheelchair-bound assassins (among other things). Somehow, though, David Foster Wallace skillfully ties all of them together. It has footnotes (1). It takes place in a future where years are subsidized (Year of the Trial-Size Dove Bar, Year of the Whopper, etc.) and divides its time between a tennis academy and a halfway house for recovering addicts. It also deals with an ultra-rare movie featuring a woman so beautiful, seeing her face causes insanity (2), the grief process (3), and how global politics and nuclear war can be reenacted in a tennis game. It's dense. You'll be confused at first. Keep reading. Read the footnotes. Keep reading. It's a hard read, but it's incredibly rewarding. You'll want to reread it. You'll keep thinking about it. Keep reading. (1) Lots of footnotes. Seriously (a). (2) "There's noooo business like shoooow business..." (3) And how to cheat it. (a) Like, footnotes within footnotes. Often stretching for pages at a time. Be prepared to use multiple bookmarks.
The story of an intelligent but zany dysfunctional family is set in a drug-and-alcohol addicts' halfway house and a tennis academy and follows such themes as heartbreak, philosophy, and advertising.